Saturday, October 11, 2008

What's For Supper?

Remember coming home from school and asking your mom, "What's for supper?" In my case, it never failed. It seemed like she was going to make exactly what we had in the school cafeteria for lunch. Those were the days in the fifties of optimism and prosperity was in the air. Most people believed in the advertisers promises of brighter tomorrows. Homemakers were intensely motivated with convenience foods like canned soups and jello and the media created a peace time market for war time foods. They were foods that were totable and convenient.

We watched the idealized TV shows like Father Knows Best or Leave It To Beaver. Mom served the meals with perfectly designed hair and a crisply starched dress with a tiny apron. At the table sat the perfect children and the husband in a suit coat. Little did we know, that mom was actually killing us with all that convenient food.

I remember having to eat everything on the plate, as we all did then. How criminal not to, when there were starving children in other countries. I bet I sat at the table for hours trying to chew and swallow what my mother considered steak. I would have given it to the dog, but we didn't have one. Stuffing those little green peas down the metal table leg was a chore and time consuming. Years later when the old table made way for the new one, hundreds or maybe thousands of dried up little peas came pouring out the bottom of the table legs.

The casserole was the dish of choice back then. An abundance of processed foods were avaliable to let the cook, who really didn't know how to cook, create a dish of comfort. To this day, I can't understand why these foods were considered comfort foods. Was it because we fell asleep so easily after eating them? Or, was it due to the fact that they filled us up so fast? These casseroles were so high in fat and after a decade of rationing foods during world war two, plain cooking was all that housewives could do.

I really think the companies that manufactured can openers in those days made a killing. I know because my mother had at least ten. We always had canned food and I am sad to say, I didn't see or hear of brussel sprouts until I was in college. I also remember the only lettuce was iceberg. There were two kids of dressings, orange and italian when the cooking got fancy. When I think back on those days at the kitchen table, I shudder. Maybe that's why I learned how to cook so well. Bon appetite!

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