Grandma was not a good cook. I remember lots of tough pork chops, warm bologna sandwiches and frozen chicken nuggets. There were a few things she could do well, like baked macaroni and cheese, but not much.
Grandpa didn’t get in the kitchen much, but he could make a few things. His chicken rice soup was pretty good. For the most part though, I mowed through meals because they didn’t taste good. Ketchup and gravy were my friends, since they made the food almost palatable. I don’t know if I was meant to be skinny or if was a result of the lousy cooking and low nutritional value of the food I ate. I didn’t see a vegetable that didn’t come in a can until I was 12 years old.
Food wasn’t so much a happy part of my childhood. There is one food-related thing that I am extremely grateful for though. grandma had a rule about food. “You’re not allowed to say you don’t like it until you’ve tasted it. You WILL try every food once.” Despite all she put me through, I could look her in the eye and thank her for that. It was a rule I encourage others people to spread as much as possible.
When I got older and had to cook for myself and a husband, I tried all sorts of things. We were dirt poor and I had to get creative. Ground beef was cheap, so I invented all kinds of ways to serve it. I’ve eaten food bank food more than once in my life. I’ve learned to be creative with my cooking and my eating, and I try every food I can, every chance I get.
Now I have a great love of food. I’ve written about it before. I thank grandma for that. So many people turn their noses up at food and never know what they’re missing. Parents struggle with picky kids who only want candy and nukeables. Not me. And I spread my love of trying new food to everyone I can. Several people have thanked me for it. I was glad I could broaden their horizons.
I’m actually surprised too. I wasn’t allowed in the kitchen and what cooking I learned was Rice Krispy Treats and croissant rolls in home-ec class. Somehow, I became a great cook. People love it when I cook, and I love doing it. I’m still learning too. I never stop learning new techniques and ingredients. Maybe being thrown into the fire when I got married at 18 and had to cook for a husband helped. Thank goodness I was smart, that helped too. But now I love food and cooking.
So even from the hell that some of us go through, good things can arise. Nothing is ever all bad. It may take years or even decades to find and see the good, but it’s always there.