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Things I (mostly) don’t eat anymore

April 15, 2020

I once ate a squirrel.

It’s not something I normally talk about or even think about. But these shelter-in-place days can take the mind to unusual places. And what I have been thinking about lately is the things I don’t eat anymore.

I’m not talking about food I gave up for health or religious reasons. What is on my mind is some of the meals I was served as a kid but haven’t been put in front of me in decades.

What I believe may be going on here is nostalgia for the carefree country life of my youth, which reminds me of the people with whom I shared these meals. I’m sure that part of it has to do with the loss of my mother last summer at the age of 96. Both my parents are gone now. We missed my mother at our Easter dinner table. I always cook the ham her way, which was passed to her from my grandmother: with brown sugar and a Coke. And I add some cloves. And I miss my mom’s big breakfasts, especially biscuits with cooked apricots.

My parents were older when I came along, children of the Great Depression. My dad was a full-time carpenter and a part-time farmer on our 100 acres, split by a creek. I live now on a couple acres outside a town of 30,000. One of the reasons I bought this place is my 2-acre yard is bordered by a creek, which reminds me of home. I have time now to gaze out our back windows every day now, and I see my folks: my dad feeding the cattle or working in his shop, my mother working in the garden, or the sights and smells that drew me to the kitchen.

When I was pretty small, we were coming home from church on a Sunday afternoon, heading down the gravel road near our house, when my Dad spotted a squirrel in a mesquite tree. He went in the house, got a gun, came back out, shot it out of the tree, cleaned it, and cooked it for dinner. I never before or since ate squirrel. I was quite young at the time, and I have no memory of how it was prepared, what it tasted like or whether I liked it. (Tastes like chicken?) I was thinking the other day that having eaten squirrel probably gave me something in common with the Beverly Hillbillies– then I remembered that their usual main course was possum, not squirrel. And I never ate a possum.

This is the only time I knew of my Dad doing something like this. I have no idea why he even had the idea. I suspect that it could be a link to his own childhood, when killing something for dinner might have been a great help to his large family.

I have no interest now in eating squirrel. But something I would not mind eating again is pork or calf brains and eggs. Yes, you read that correctly. Often when my mother was out of town, my Dad cooked brains mixed with scrambled eggs, along with hot biscuits. I loved them. I haven’t had them in years and am largely prohibited from talking about them in our household.

 

Other things I don’t eat anymore:

 

  • Chili and eggs. This was my Dad again. Scrambled eggs mixed with a can of chili. I have not had any recent cravings for it.
  • White gravy. OK, well I still eat it sometimes. But no one can make it like my Mama.
  • Redeye gravy. Good stuff. If you know anyone who serves it, sign me up.
  • Fried bologna. My dad got on a fried bologna kick once, and we had it on toast every morning for a while. I’d eat it again. Maybe.
  • Chipped beef on toast. I don’t think the version we had is the traditional recipe known in other parts of the country. What I remember is hamburger meat mixed with white gravy. I would eat it again.
  • Cinnamon toast, or I think some people call it sugar toast. More sugar involved than cinnamon. Butter some bread, spread sugar and cinnamon on top and put it under the broiler. Yum. Grabbed this on the way to school on many mornings. We just don’t ever think of making it anymore.
  • Cold fried chicken with mayonnaise. I still do this sometimes if no one is looking.
  • Cornbread and milk. My Dad’s favorite. I don’t make cornbread as often as I would like to.
  • Fried egg sandwich. Sometimes I still get a craving and will have one. Good with mustard or mayonnaise.
  • Frog legs. Had it once. Tastes like chicken.
  • Turnip greens with vinegar sauce. The last time I probably had this was at a Cracker Barrel somewhere.
  • Potted meat and saltines. I like it. Other members of the household are not fans.
  • Did I mention my mother’s cooked apricots? There was always a big bowl of these on the table for breakfast. I can taste them now.
  • Tomato preserves. I loved these, too. My mom canned them. I rarely see them anywhere and doubt I have the expertise for making them.
  • My grandmother’s homemade chicken and dumplings, with dumplings that swell up as big as your fist. For years, I made these once a year on a bitterly cold day, but have not now in a few years and I miss them. It is a time-intensive process but worth it!
  • Also, my mother made the best “Eagle Brand lemon pies” with graham cracker crust. This was her go-to pie. Maybe I’ll give it a shot.

 

 

So, what food do you remember from your childhood and rarely eat anymore? Do you miss it?

 

 

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 16, 2020 12:17 am

    Mom’s biggie was fried calves liver. Not one of my favorites. Does not taste like chicken.

  2. April 16, 2020 12:37 am

    I love this (though I would never eat squirrel)!

    I’ve lately found myself craving the foods of my childhood as well. For Easter, I finally learned how to make my mom’s Mexican rice. I also obtained some free-range eggs from a friend to make one of my grandfather’s favorites: refried beans with eggs on homemade flour tortillas. I’m told my grandfather was fond of eggs with everything–including fried bologna. His daughters would tease him about this, saying, “papas con huevos, weenies (hot dogs) con huevos, huevos con huevos.” It’s hilarious when my mom says it but you probably had to be there 😉

  3. Patricia Anne Dickerson permalink
    April 16, 2020 2:18 am

    I dont think this is about food at all. We’re wanting a slower, safer, more comforting time for our families. Food is just one way back to it.

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