Each generation, as they become young adults, dreads becoming anything like their parents. As the years pass, some see the wisdom of their parents, and strive to be just like them. Others see the mistakes made, and do their best to do the exact opposite of whatever their parents might have done. I think we all end up with a good balance of our ancestors hiding somewhere within us. This can be both good and bad.
As a kid, I remember watching as my dad got ready to eat his dinner. We’d all come to the table, ready to eat, and dive right in. Not dad. Nope. He would first take out a stack of slices of white bread. He was not quite ready to commit to putting the twist tie back on, limiting the number of slices readily available. So, he would leave the bag open, but set the stack of slices on top, somewhat delaying access to more. It was the early 60’s…white bread was big. WONDER Bread helped to build strong bodies 12 ways, you might remember.
So, with his bread stash at the ready, he would then begin to load his plate with food. Whatever it was, there was a lot of it. Dad was big on eating, and big on getting us to eat. Dad was just big! After the filling of the plate, he would enter the seasoning phase. Salt, pepper, hot sauce, steak sauce…whatever the taste du jour. Usually there was something to munch on on the side, such as green onions, or maybe fresh jalapeno peppers. Date ate them raw, and whole, just like a carrot stick! He did like to dip the onions in salt, so he would put down a napkin and make a tiny salt mound on it for dipping.
While all of this preparation was going on, my brother and I were already at least halfway through our meals. In the early years, we watched in wonder, but as we got older, we started kidding him about the process. (My family was big on sarcasm, and we became little smarty pants at an early age.) Once he finally started to eat, you could tell right away he was serious about it. He followed each bite of food with a bite of bread (a very bad habit I have spent a good portion of my life battling!) He would work up a sweat as he ate, mostly from the hot sauce, or jalapenos. We used to joke with him as to how he might consider using a slice of bread as a hankie, and wipe his brow with it.
After all those years of watching dad’s dinner rituals, you’d think I’d be a speedy eater, just to protest my parent’s habit. And there are times when I AM a speedy eater. Having been a teacher, you learn quickly how to inhale your lunch in about 10 minutes, because it’s all you have. And loving food, as I do, I tend to gulp and finish my meals fairly quickly. BUT…I have noticed that in recent years, I have started to go through my own pre-meal rituals. Yes, I find myself taking the time to arrange everything, season, cut, butter, and finally eat. My God, I have become my father! At least I don’t stack the white bread!