The other morning my pal, Marcus, at the gym mentioned that he had skipped breakfast and was feeling rather hungry. It seems that whenever someone is hungry, some sort of food topic comes into play. This particular conversation settled into favorite foods and dishes that we rarely or never eat anymore. Some of the foods are simply not manufactured at all anymore, or only a special demographic of people consume it. Often times, the food simply fell out of favor or we just forgot that it even exists.
The reminincing started right after I expressed my surprise that Marcus knew better than to do a workout on an empty stomach and that he should probably have had something light to tide him over. Marcus asked if my Swedish grandparents ever served Rusk Toast when I was a kid. I laughed and told him that they certainly did. It was staple they enjoyed with coffee. I said that I didn’t particularly care for it because it was hard as a rock and so very bland. Whenever I felt ill and grandma J was around, she’d put a few Rusk toasts into a bowl and pour warm milk over it. I guessed that was the origin of the term “milquetoast”.
Marcus then cautiously inquired as to whether or not I’d ever heard of a food called “mush”. I instantly knew exactly what he meant. I told him that was a common and cheap food that people of my dad’s generation ate and got tired of back in the good ol’ days. I remember having it served as a hot cereal in a bowl with sugar and milk, but I enjoyed it fried into cornladoos or fritters. You take the cooked cornmeal mush and fry it in oil. The crispy fried mush is then spread with butter and served with maple syrup. I’m surprised that I haven’t even thought about this for decades. I said I’m going to buy some cornmeal and make a batch this week.
I asked Marcus if he had any other childhood food memories. He said that a couple of times each month, his mom served liver loaf for supper. He said it was the most gawdawful swill he ever experienced. On the bright side, the family was served a special dessert cake or pie at that meal.
Of course, the talk degenerated into fond rememberances of favorite breakfast cereals that we can’t find in the supermarkets anymore. Marcus said he really used to enjoy “Alpen” granola cereal. We both agreed on “Heartland” granola. I think that one is still available if you search carefully. I said that my one guilty childhood pleasure was “Sugar Jets”. I sorely miss that unhealthy but scrumptious breakfast food.
He asked if there was any particular food that made me want to choke. Right away, I thought of ambrosia salad or any of the gelatin based, so-called fruit salads. Ambrosia salad is a wicked blend of whipped Jello, fruit chunks, coconut and walnut pieces. It was the fluffy Jello combined with walnuts that made me feel nauseous. There was another mixture that curdled my gut. Shredded cabbage in lime Jello. I have an excuse, now as a vegetarian, in that I simply don’t eat any gelatin.
About five miles into our bike rides the subject of old fashioned desserts came up. One I haven’t had in years that I just love is Apple Pan Betty. It’s similar to apple crisp, but richer somehow. I don’t know mom’s recipe. Marcus said one of his most fond memories is eating Black Bottom Pie. He said it was loaded with chocolate and had a custard like consistency. He said I’d probably turn it down, because it contains gelatin. I mentioned that I lament the sight of lattice topped pies. The art of creating a basketweave pie crust top has gone away around these parts.
As our workouts ended, Marcus said we could probably talk for hours on end about foods that people have forgotten about. He had to get home in a hurry, though, so he could eat.
The Blue Jay of Happiness misses the appearance of homemade suet cakes that used to be prepared by hand then placed outdoors for birds for winter feedings.