Riding Life!

Riding Life!
Life is like a wild horse--Unless you ride it, it will ride you! (from the movie: "Princess of Thieves.")

Sunday, September 19, 2010

C: What was Mama Thinking, Anyway?

kroger This week I made a foray into the beautiful, new, expansive, gourmet Kroger that has just grand-opened in our area.  This gorgeous store with its wide selection of everything from the exotic to the mundane, is entertainment, not grocery shopping.  I mean, how much more thrilling can you get than choosing your own loaf of  “artisan” bread from the bin and dropping it into the slicer? Why, it just makes you want to buy, buy, buy (imagine that).  But I digress…

This post is not about gourmet food.  It is about childhood memories and the things I recall eating waaaaaaaaay back then.  And asking: why?

We ingested many unhealthy things back then (notably gallons of Kool-Aid), although I believe our diet was likely much healthier than it is today.  We certainly did not eat fast food as a way of life, and Mom cooked from scratch mostly.

Still, there are those big questions—mostly centering around “meat products.”

What has brought this on is that as I was tooling down the Kroger aisle, looking for water-packed tuna, I spied the canned corned beef. 

As you know, food is not just about taste and nutrition.  There is a huge corned beef emotional component to it.  As I regarded the canned corned beef, I recalled my lunch sandwiches, made by my mother, with yellow French’s mustard and my favorite dill pickle slices on canned corned beef .  Before I knew it, one of those cans was in my basket.   When I got home I crafted myself one of those sandwiches, and it was as good as I remember.

When I got up to wrap the leftovers, I hesitated (my emotional/nutritional craving momentarily sated).  That canned corned beef looked for all the world like…well, like….well—oh, I can’t say it.  Let’s just say that Chili and Scout got the leftovers, and that seemed appropriate.  Given what it looked like, I mean…

So, back to the question:  Why did we (do we) eat such things?  Why would I eat canned corned beef when I make a killer one from the brisket?  I meant the gourment deli was just steps away—they’d have corned beef? 

I threw the can away before I yielded to the temptation to look at ingredients and nutritional information printed on the label.  I.Don’t.Want.To.Know…

I began to recall some of the many questionable things I ate as I grew up.  Please tell me if you, too, experienced any of these.

viennasausage Vienna sausages.  I wondered about the name.  Here’s what Wikipedia had to say about these convenient little “meat sticks,” (ugh! What a term!):

A Vienna sausage (Viennese/Austrian German: Frankfurter Würstel or Würstl… The word wiener means Viennese in German…In North America the term vienna sausage has most often come to mean smaller and much shorter smoked and canned wieners, rather than hot dogs…made from meat such as chicken, beef, turkey and pork (or blends thereof) finely ground to a paste consistency and mixed with salt and spices, notably mustard, then stuffed into a long casing, sometimes smoked and always thoroughly cooked, after which the casings are removed as with hot dogs. The sausages are then cut into short segments for canning and further cooked.

As with any sausage, the ingredients, preparation, size and taste can vary widely by both manufacturer and region of sale.

Meat paste, huh?  Well, we ate ‘em a bunch when I was growing up.  We still occasionally eat them, but I insist on not thinking about it when I do.potted meat

We also occasionally would eat “potted meat” on crackers.  This, I guess, is  just the pure “meat paste” not stuffed into the casing.  I’ve given this up.

Spam.  ( There was also a product called “Treat”).  Myths abound about what these delicacies are made of.  We at this mostly lightly fried in a skillet…I’ve given this up, too.

And, then, there is the grand-daddy of all gross meat products, in my book.  My pigsfeetmother would not touch them, but she allowed us kids to join our dad in gnawing them: pickled pigs feet.

If you have made it this far without gagging, I’m probably about to fix that because I need to tell you that my brother and I learned to just ignore the stiff hairs that would sometimes remain on them and chew on the salty, vinegary fat that was clinging to the bones of these trotters. 

Really, Mom, what on earth were you thinking???

There are many gross things I never touched: members of my family, for example, love cracklin’ cornbread (look it up).  I don’t touch tripe (chitterlings), brains (ask V), squirrel and most other game (I prefer domesticated), oysters or snails (I don’t care how fancy-dancy you think this stuff is).

And it is beyond me why anyone would eat a frog.

So, all-in-all, I’m pretty picky.  So, why canned corned beef?  Why????  C.


Dodie said...

I have eaten every one of those mentioned foods. But then I am 81 years old. End of discussion.

Jody Blue said...

Did you know there is a spam museum in MN? We call spam "mystery meat" but most Minnesotans know that it's shoulder of pork and ham.

Mamma has spoken said...

I too have fond childhood memories of canned meat. Namely spam. I remember my mother making several dishes where spam was the main ingredient. She also bought a lot of the can mackerel and made fish patties out of it. Oh and lets not forget sardines. Though that's one I wouldn't touch now with a 10 foot pole.
Recently, I ate White Castle hamburgers. I loved them as a child, looked forward to the times we could have them as a treat (this was a rare thing since we had to go several towns over to nearest WC). Well.....lets just say some memories are better in the past......

Mamma has spoken said...

OH and PS
When as adults, my siblents and I asked mom why she fed us the can meats. She replied that it was cheaper than fresh meat and a great way to stretch the grocery money from week to week especially during the lean times. guess there were many a lean times because we had can meat at least once a week!

kath001 said...

Thoroughly enjoyed this post, C! :) My bf and I once got to talking about the kinds of meals we ate as kids, and we decided it would be fun to cook an old-fashioned meal from our childhood for her daughter and son-in-law. We had fried Spam, pea salad, canned shoestring potatoes, and fruit cocktail. We thought it was very authentic. They were underwhelmed. :)

kath001 said...

Here's a ps from me too.

By 'bf' I mean best friend, not boyfriend. :) You know, just in case there was any confusion.

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

Ah yes, we had our share of convenience foods too--but like your mom, mine cooked healthy, mostly from scratch meals. The first convenience foods I recall were Jiffy cornbread mix and Minute Rice (ugh)!!! And oh yes, we musn't forget Campbell's soup--especially Cream of Mushroom! As women entered the workforce in droves to counteract the effects of increased taxation, more and more "CONVENIENCE" unhealthy, over-processed food appeared on grocery shelves! At least that's the way I see it!

Vee said...

I've eaten frog. I even helped to catch them...

Corned beef, spam, and beef tongue were the staples of sandwich lunches at my grandparents' home. I can't bring myself to keep them around, but I do secretly wish for deviled ham.

Fun post!

Oh that Kroeger's...I want to visit one.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

I have eaten many things I wish I hadn't........ Canned meat was considered a treat when we lived with my grandparents on the farm. Chefboyardee Pizza and canned pasta meals were my mother's stand-by. I tried some recently and I still don't like it!

Vickie said...

My mama made Spam fried. We had to make our groceries stretch, too. I LOVED potted meat, now I wouldn't eat it. I still love Vienna Sausages (only the chicken ones - do I think they're healthier? Probably not but I like to think so) I would not eat sardines and still won't. Mom made salmon patties and potato patties from old leftover mashed 'taters. I do like those still and make them for my family sometimes.

You brought back some memories this evening C!

Happyone :-) said...

The only thing I've eaten on your list is corned beef.
Meal time was not a happy time at my house so I don't really have fond memories of food.

Lindy said...

You left off the fried chicken feet. My Dad used to wax poetic about eating them on the farm when he was a kid. My personal favorite from childhood is scrambled eggs with canned herring roe. I have not seen it in years. I guess you have to live near the coast to like fishy food for breakfast. We always had fried oysters for Christmas breakfast, too.

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