Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Nana's Culinary Legacy
My mother was English. She cooked traditional English food…and by traditional, I mean bland and over-cooked. I grew up with beans on toast, Yorkshire pudding and roast beef, and fried English breakfasts. I don’t think I ate pasta until Chef Boyardee created spaghetti O’s. I mention spaghetti O’s as an example of an international meal in my house.
The only fresh vegetables in my childhood home were served boiled. Canned peas, lima beans and brussel sprouts were the vegetables of my youth. When I tried to think of memorable meals from my childhood, it wasn’t a Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner that came to mind. I mostly remember having to try evil smelling concoctions of kidney, liver, or tripe. The only pie my mom made was of the steak and kidney variety.
My gastronomical horizon was expanded at George K. Porter Junior High School when I took Home Economics. Girls took Home Ec. and boys had Shop. One of the first things I learned how to cook was French Toast…how international is that! In addition to French toast, we also learned to make banana bread in a soup can.
With my culinary history, it’s no surprise that I came into marriage with few kitchen skills. Fortunately we received several cookbooks as wedding gifts and I know how to read. Armed with the rudimentary knowledge of cooking I learned at George K. Porter Junior High and the Betty Crocker’s Cooking For Two Cookbook, I managed to keep my family fed.
I am reminded of my culinary legacy every Thanksgiving. For the past several years we have celebrated the holiday at my daughter’s house in Austin. My daughter has blended the traditions of our family with those of her husband’s. From her husband’s side of the family she makes a rice stuffing. From my side of the family we have little weenies in barbecue sauce in the crock pot and “green salad.” The green salad is cool-whip and Jello pistachio pudding with pineapple and little marshmallows. So, I guess my culinary legacy isn’t any better than my mother’s.