Edna, Verna, and I had just finished our Morning Meet Up at the Mall, as we call it. We had completed our walk and our coffee shop visit was about to conclude.
“I’ve got to get home and put my roast in the Crock Pot,” Verna said.
“Hmmm … that sounds good,” I replied.
“Oh, I get so tired of the same old thing. I wish I were a more adventuresome cook,” Verna said.
“You need to be more like Marge Simpson. She said regular ham didn’t thrill her anymore; she was crossing over to deviled ham. Maybe it’s time you crossed over to something a bit more ‘devilish,’ Edna advised.
“Oh, you could start out by putting red peppers in your meatloaf,” Edna teased.
“Seriously, what would you describe as adventuresome,” Verna asked.
“Well, there’s sushi. Raw fish is always an adventure. And white asparagus is big nowadays. If you’re eating out you might try a tapas restaurant.”
“Funny you should mention tapas,” Verna replied. “The other night my son said he was taking us to a tapas restaurant. I misunderstood what he said. And I shot back, ‘Oh, no, you’re not taking your father and me to any topless restaurant.’ We had a good laugh and went to the topless—I mean tapas—restaurant and it was great fun eating all the little samples of food.”
“I’ve noticed that some of the old foods are becoming trendy again,” I said. “Every time I pick up a food magazine there’s a recipe for chicken pot pie. My mother used to cook those all the time, but I haven’t made one for years.
“Spam is back—and I don’t mean the Internet kind,” Verna added. “Now that was a meal in a minute. All you had to do was peel open the can with the attached key and you had the makings for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
“Same thing with corned beef hash,” I said. “My mother would open both ends of the can, push it out onto the counter, slice it into the frying pan and it worked for any meal.”
“Next thing you know you gals will be serving that lime Jello, with pineapple and tiny marshmallows again. Or a tuna noodle casserole held together with cream of mushroom soup and sour cream,” Edna laughed.
Verna ignored Edna as she often does and went on with her foods of yesteryears.
“I never see celery sticks stuffed with cream cheese anymore. Or tomato aspic,” she said with a touch of longing in her voice.
“No,” I said, “but I have seen dates stuffed with a Boursin cheese and wrapped in prosciutto. Very tasty, but a lot more expensive.”
“And what about succotash? When I mentioned the corn and lima bean combo at the table recently my adult children looked at me like I had just used a naughty word from the Urban Dictionary.”
I remembered it well. It was one of those disgusting dishes where the sweet corn masked the mealy, tasteless lima beans.
“My mother jazzed up our succotash with cream, butter, and nutmeg,” Verna said, “but I could never pass it off to my grand kids. She also did a side dish she called ‘stewed tomatoes.’”
More Food Nostalgia
“Yeah, I remember those. All you had to do was scrunch up a can of whole tomatoes into a pan, add some pieces of stale bread, seasoning, and sugar and you had a primitive pizza. My mother added some bacon fat, too. She kept a can of leftover drippings sitting by the stove and added it to just about everything,” I added.
Verna said she thought food was a lot tastier years ago. “Now days they’ve taken all the fat and flavor out of home cooking. There are times when you need comfort food. Raw fish isn’t going to do it for you like mashed potatoes and gravy.”
“Raw fish isn’t supposed to be comforting; it’s supposed to give you a feeling of superiority,” Edna said. “It’s primeval and unadulterated.”
“I don’t know about that,” I said. “They say it could be contaminated with mercury. But you never hear about root vegetables being chemically laced. That’s pure, satisfying food.”
“I’ll drink to that,” Verna said as she swallowed her last bit of coffee and headed towards the door. “I’ll add a few potatoes and carrots to the Crock Pot and Al will have the perfect caveman meal.”
“Add some turnips, too,” Edna shouted after her. “It’s a bad economy veggie and very chic nowadays.”