Reflections on Food

I’m taking a little bit of ribbing over on Facebook about my initial reluctance to eat something referred to in the menu as “gyro meat.”  So far as I know, there is no gyrobeast from which this meat might be harvested. If the meat in question was simply spiced lamb, why not say “spiced lamb”?

So, a few minutes of soul-searching out of respect for the girl who watched, with fascinated horror, as the Pollack Johnny hot-dog-making machine at Lexington Market made hot dogs.  The same girl who, yes, still happily ate scrapple, even knowing what it was.

In any case, my gyro was perfectly tasty and I’m glad to add a new foodstuff to my repertoire.

Last year, through the kind offices of Mem Morman and Kent Bloom, I added beignets, which were also very tasty — and therefore amazed people who could scarcely believe that this was my first experience of the food.  Mem is also, I fear, responsible for my discovery of Greek food in general, back a couple years when we were GoHs at CoSine.

Anyhow, I got to thinking why I’m such a food illiterate.

Part of it — a good deal of it — has to do with having been born Rather A Long Time Ago to people who had been raised by people who had survived the (first) Great Depression, who were themselves very frugal, and unlikely to experiment with something so vital as food.  You bought what you knew you’d eat; otherwise, you might not like it, and food would be wasted.

It was Very, Very Bad to waste food.

When I reached adulthood, some of my friends were able to help me expand my food horizons, but when Steve and I moved in together, we were — not to put too fine a point on it — bitterly broke, occasionally rising to the point where money was only extremely tight.  We bought basics that we knew we would eat, because it would be Very Bad to waste food.

We (Steve’s family was similar to mine — trad blue collar, where the father worked the Real Job; and mom took care of the kids.  In his case, things were a little tighter still, because there were five kids — four of them boys.  My parents only had to feed two girls.)  But, yeah — we might have experienced varied and different foods by going out with groups at conventions, except, again, we were poor to the point of carrying our own cheese sandwiches with us, and eating out of our room.

Anyhow, it’s good that life is easier now, and that there are so many different things to sample.  Even if some of it isn’t immediately and intuitively understandable.

What delicious food(s) have you recently discovered?

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Progress on Carousel Seas:  1,733/100,000 or 1.73% complete

This was the tricky part — well. And not burning down the carousel.

2 thoughts on “Reflections on Food”

  1. I’ll try just about anything, barring some ingredients I *know* I hate. But then again, I spent the first 6 years of my life overseas and you ate what was put in front of you – at least a little – so you didn’t offend anyone. Baltimore has this Chocolate Affair fund-raiser for the Maryland Food Bank and I have been suckered into trying some very odd things. But they were in finger-food quantities so it was easy to try just a mouthful or two. I liked much of it. The one I was glad I tried but wouldn’t do so again – little cubes of pepperjack cheese coated in white chocolate. Different. Too Different.

  2. Octopus. Last fall, in NYC, lunch with editor. The lamb and fish side of Greek cooking, I already knew…octopus was a new one (grilled. Delicious.)

    Where I grew up, a certain amount of adventurous eating came with a low income…Mexican food being cheaper by and large. My mother was divorced; she worked full time, but in the ’50s no one thought women deserved or needed anything like a man’s wage. Even a blue-collar wage was way above hers. We had Lebanese neighbors and Jewish friends who broadened my food horizons.

    But all the adults had been through the Depression and then rationing during WWII. Food Was Not Wasted. Ever. To the point of…if something went a little “off” there were recipes for that. (“Bread mold won’t hurt you–just brush it off and eat the bread.” “If you cook it long enough, it’ll be fine. Add more spices.” My house wasn’t the only one where I heard “Don’t waste food,” and “If you cook it long enough…”) Everybody had been poor, and many still were. Eating leftovers between meals without asking: not done. They might be intended for supper, or tomorrow’s supper. You didn’t ask for more when you could see perfectly well the serving dish was empty.

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