Okay, everyone probably has their weird concoctions or Dagwood sandwiches that they used to make. Unusual combinations put together or some bizarre family recipe that others looked at like it would crawl off the plate and bite. Sometimes you could pull someone over to your side, and introduce them to the delights of strange delicacies.
I’ve already talked about some of my gross childhood foods. Well, there were other foods that were a bit of a mystery why we liked them, or even why we would eat them. Probably the oddest was “Beans I Like.” Yes indeed; that is what we called this culinary delight. Here are the three ingredients to this uh…unique vision of nutrition. Lima beans, watery tomato soup, wieners. That’s it. We seemed to like it too, from the name. But all I can surmise is that compared to those mushy frozen vegetables that I mentioned in gross foods, these were heaven. I don’t understand it either.
Then there was Velveeta Cheese and its creamier cousin, Cheeze Whiz. Cheeze Whiz could at least be scooped onto celery or crackers but Velveeta was the closest thing to eating plastic that ever existed in a pseudo cheese. I mean really, what was in that stuff? Granted they make cheddars in bright orange and Velveeta tried to mimic that, but it was molded into these thin plasticky pieces of milk product. Of course, kids love crap and that was a parent sanctioned piece o’ crap. Sure these “foods” still exist but I think I’d rather eat a leather shoe and probably get more nutrition though I did love those Velveeta days for grilled cheese sandwiches.
A somewhat odd food I was introduced to by a boyfriend was radish sandwiches. You take bread of your choice, smother it in butter, slice a lot of radishes, stack them in, salt and pepper them, and voila. An interesting vegetarian sandwich, which could be a challenge to eat with little disks of radish slipping left and right, yet there was something good and crunchy about it.
When I used to eat hot dogs, or for that matter some sandwiches, I would toss a lot of potato chips into the bun/bread. Like I mentioned in Gross Foods of Childhood, I don’t really like mushy textures and I do like crunchy. It added another dimension of crunchy if unwholesome goodness. I’m not beyond the potato chip trick now, should I have potato chips and bread hanging about.
That really is it for the memorably weird foods of the past. There were truly good foods and the truly gruesome. One I didn’t mention before was those Jello molds with little bits of canned fruit and marshmallows in them. I know that during the War people didn’t always get fresh fruit in the days before massive shipping by every route possible, so canned fruit was sometimes a treasured treat. It falls into that mushy fruit category to me. Pineapple, not too bad. Peaches, meh. Pears…pallid corpselike mounds with no flavor. (shudder) And then in some ponderously jiggling, translucent green or orange blob reminiscent of a bad scifi B movie. Even as a kid I found that hideous and nightmarish beyond belief. No wonder I started writing speculative fiction.
It didn’t help that I ended up in the hospital at one point and was fed nothing but Jello, apple juice and consomme soup. Guess what I hate to this day? And Jello shooters (vodka used as the liquid when making Jello), please, just give me the straight vodka.
I was one of those odd kids that loved the crust on bread and always wanted the end piece (chewy) and liked what we then called brown bread, the pre-cursor to whole wheat bread. Though I do remember taking bread and compressing it (sans crust) into a dense dough ball to eat.
My family was probably a typical, whitebread Canadian family. Nothing to adventuresome except for once in a while when my mother brought home fresh crab or a coconut. Other than that, short ribs, pork chops, roast, hamburger, wieners, (tongue!), liver, fish and chips, maybe salmon, meatloaf, etc. were the common fair. Ah, those good ole days. When it comes to food it’s only my mother’s baking that was truly wonderful. The rest is happily relegated to memory.