Sunday, March 23, 2008
Forgotten Foods -- A discussion with my wife over dinner Saturday night got me to thinking about foods that were common at my family's dinner table when I was growing up in the 1960s and '70s, and I came up with the following list. Most of them are foods my wife and I have never served our kids, a lot of them because they're gross, but others for other reasons, as you'll see...
Rack of Lamb with Mint Jelly -- I can remember enjoying this dish when my mom made it, which was probably three or four times a year, but I always passed on the mint jelly. I hate mint. That aside, the main reason I've not had this dish since childhood is that is just seems too close to game meat, too much of a reminder of exactly what it is you're eating. And it's probably fairly complicated, as well.
Harvey Wallbanger Cake -- Oh, man, I loved this when my mom would make it, and seeing the recipe, it's not hard to see why. We rarely bake anything in my home, but it's tempting to give this a shot (pardon the pun), because I remember it being incredibly moist and flavourful.
Liver and Onions -- I tried this exactly once as a child, because it looked like steak. Never again.
Chipped Beef on Toast -- This was probably a depression-era invention; my parents were both products of that era and the cuisine often was a reminder of how to make something out of virtually nothing. I'd probably never bother making this myself, but I remember it being creamy, salty and actually pretty tasty.
Codfish -- As a child I dreaded this dish being served up, but I think I ate it more often than not. It wasn't a favourite, but it was edible. I remember it being salty and having a strong, strong flavour that wasn't quite fishy, but reminiscent of something else altogether. Bonus memory: The fish came from the store in a wooden box. Anyone remember that?
Turkey Soup after Thanksgiving -- Again, as a product of The Depression, mom never let anything go to waste. In my modern-day home we use all the meat off the turkey for sandwiches and whatnot, but we don't go so far as to make stock from the carcass to make soup. I'll give mom credit on this one, it's probably pretty wasteful not to do this, but again, as pathetic creatures of 21st century America, it just seems like so much work. Oh, also: Turkey a la king was another dish that would be served after Thanksgiving -- turkey in a white sauce with peas, served over toast or with mashed potatoes. Which, amazingly, were always from the instant flakes that came in a huge can. This amazes me because when my wife makes mashed potatoes, she always makes them from real potatoes; there's one curious inversion of the pattern!
Spam -- I know we always had cans in the cupboard. Generally slices would be fried up in a pan and served on sandwiches. I have never purchased spam or eaten it in my adult life, although I assume they still make it, along with...
Vienna Sausages -- I can remember these being packed in my school lunches sometimes. Ears and assholes were no doubt the main ingredients, but of course pure beef ears and assholes. Or maybe pork, who the hell knows?
Beets -- Mom would make them, I wouldn't eat them. Sorry, Dwight, but beets have never passed my lips and never will. I think I heard once that they taste like dirt, and I for one believe it.
Mincemeat Pie -- Always served with Thanksgiving dinner. I might have taken a bite once, and that was more than enough for me.
Filet Mignon -- This was a once-a-week dinner in my childhood home, and probably my favourite meal that my family would eat. I would go to the butcher with my parents, who would buy individual filets wrapped in butcher paper. Each one came with a strip of bacon wrapped around it, for added flavour and moisture, I remember my mom telling me. And get this: Each filet cost a whole dollar, meaning four filets for my parents, me and my brother cost four dollars. Oh, did my parents complain about that cost! The last time I saw filet mignon in a supermarket I believe each filet cost around ten dollars. We've never made it in my home as an adult, but I often order it when eating out, as recently as last night, which is where this whole discussion began. Interestingly, other than the filets my parents would buy when I was a child, I have never seen it served with the bacon strip around it.
Raw Oysters and Frogs Legs -- No, I never ate either of these, but my parents often did when we went out to eat. The oysters were served raw on the half-shell and were accompanied with lemon to squirt on them before you slurped the snot-like raw animal out of its shell. No mealtime ritual ever grossed me out more.
Any of these bring back any memories for you? Feel free to share in the comments, or write it up on your blog, and let me know. I'm interested in whether anyone else remembers unusual foods that their family would have as a child that as an adult they don't eat anymore.
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