As a follow-up to my last diatribe on the called-for Food Gestapo I go back to my suggestion that if folks would actually sit down to a family meal on a regular basis our eating habits would improve vastly and junk-food related medical conditions would abate.
In that context I include as follows an excerpt on family meals from my recently completed (this morning) and still unpublished (see ‘this morning’) manuscript concerning my childhood and youth in the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby.
I include this for two reasons 1) because it’s mine and so I can, and I want it to gain exposure so my words get comfortable in a public purview and 2) because it offers some insights on how different mealtime was when I was growing up. And we weren’t much different from any family of the era. So, I hope you enjoy.
Meals in the family home were basic in nature. Granted, there wasn’t a lot of money in most households of the day, but even so, there was even less inventiveness or sense-of-adventure. Meatloaf, sausages and mashed potatoes, repellent canned peas, pork chops, macaroni-and-cheese (which was served far too often, leaving me disliking it to this day), and then the big Sunday roast. Sometimes beef, but more usually pork or lamb because they were cheaper. Maybe a chicken on rare occasions and, for some odd reason, chicken was considered almost a gourmet treat.
I’ll give my mother credit in matters culinary. In the first place she was a good cook and secondly she honestly tried to educate our reluctant palates to dishes she’d either heard about, or had found in Ladies Home Journal, McCall’s or Family Circle, and she would attempt to foist the concoctions on her wary family, only to be greeted with:
“What’s this stuff?”
“It’s called Beef Stroganoff.”
“I don’t like it.”
“You haven’t even tried it.”
“I still know I don’t like it. It looks like dog-food and smells like puke.”
At which point my ultra-sensitive mother would often flee the room in tears, leaving the rest of us feeling like rats, but still disinclined to eat the stroganoff. As an aside, I thoroughly enjoy stroganoff today, along with many others of her ‘experimental’ dishes like the aforementioned lasagne, or even boeuf bourguignon, which struck me as being suspiciously reminiscent of plain old beef stew.
We didn’t dine out much when I was a kid. We certainly never went to fancy restaurants and Burnaby did not offer a proliferation of dining options in those days. There were some basic places, a couple of Chinese joints (too foreign for Dad), and our mainstay. This was a place on Edmonds near Kingsway called Rob Roy. I doubt if there was a Scottish connection, somehow.
Anyway, I recall their slogan was “Coffee till the pot runs dry.” Not much of an enticement for me, since I didn’t consume coffee at that age. Anyway, if we were to go out en famille, it was generally to Rob Roy for some fare like the aforementioned meatloaf, porkchops, or maybe a ‘hot roast beef sandwich’ on white bread, smeared with gloppy cornstarch thickened gravy. Never a hamburger.
For some reason we never went for burgers when I was a kid. I didn’t even have my first one until I was about eight and was out with an aunt and uncle of youthful, bon vivant tastes.