I have written here previously about my culinary legacy. My mother was English and in the English culinary tradition I grew up eating family favorites such as beans on toast, toad in the hole, and watery over-cooked vegetables.
My palate was trained on the popular foods of the 50's and 60's. Highly processed foods were the norm...cheese whiz, Velveeta, and anything made by Hostess! The TV dinner was invented in the 50's and it was an exciting meal when we actually got to eat one. My parents liked an English breakfast complete with bacon and eggs fried in the grease. My dad liked a side of fried bread too. My brother and I liked cereal and fought over which of us would get the free prize.
I was labeled a picky eater at a young age. I prefer to think of myself as discriminating, but I admit that I am not an adventurous eater. I bought a clove of garlic for the first time in my 50's. What? Garlic salt isn't the same thing? Last week I cooked lentils for the first time. The week before I cooked barley. The beef and barley soup was a hit, the lentils and chicken sausage not so much.
If I were just feeding myself, I would survive on grilled meat, pork and beans, and potato chips. Well, that and snack food like microwave popcorn and M&M's. Wash it down with a diet coke and life is pretty near perfect.
Earlier this month I visited my granddaughters in Austin. One thing we do when I visit is cook together. That is something of a challenge for me given my culinary background. Early one morning Megan was eating her breakfast (healthy cereal with no sugar or free prize) and watching me make her lunch.
"I really like when you make my lunch for me, Nana." she said.
"Why is that?" I asked her.
"Because you make triangles" she told me.
It's reassuring to know that I don't need to have great cooking skills to please a five year old. I just have to take the time to cut her sandwich into quarters.
After school that day I taught my two granddaughters a secret family recipe and let them make it themselves. Into their cups of milk they measured two spoons of Hershey's syrup and then gently stirred.
"Oh, look Nana! It's turning CHOCOLATE!!!" Megan shrieked.
They had never made chocolate milk and it was as if Nana had performed a miracle. I guess I do have a few culinary skills to pass on to the next generation after all.