I often accuse my daughter of making things up. Like the time she told me to buy “bronze die cut pasta.” I’ve been around a long time, and I never in my life heard about pasta cut …
I often accuse my daughter of making things up. Like the time she told me to buy “bronze die cut pasta.” I’ve been around a long time, and I never in my life heard about pasta cut by a bronze die. But after she told me about this I had to go out and discover pasta cut by a bronze-die. Oh, yes, I had to find it. It wasn’t made up. This was an actual thing. Apparently it holds sauce better. Go figure.
Of course, I grew up when pasta was something you ate out of a can, and it came with tiny meatballs inside. Good ol’ Chef Boyardee. He really had something going on then. I can remember going down to Middletown if we wanted real Italian food. We went to a joint along the railroad tracks called Tony Boffa’s and the same family is apparently still serving spaghetti and meatballs to this day. It was a pretty exotic place—they had red pepper flakes right on the table!
I grew up on the classics: meatloaf, roast chicken, and ham dinners. We’d always have potatoes in some form and a vegetable or two, no matter that they came from a can. Remember creamed corn? How about those mushy sliced carrots? There was a treat! Mom was a big fan of putting the redoubtable cans of Veg-All in her soups. I mean, we loved her soups, so I guess it was all good.
It wasn’t until later in my childhood that frozen vegetables made a strong showing. Then we could have those memorable vegetable medleys that came in their own sauces. Oh, that clever Jolly Green Giant! Around this time, I seem to remember my parents getting a big freezer and putting it in the basement. It was filled with food of all kinds, including many cans of frozen pink lemonade. One day, one of us kids (I’m not naming names, but I think it was me) went down and got a can of the lemonade out and neglected to properly shut the freezer door, causing lots of unintentional thawing. In the subsequent upset, many temperatures (and tempers) flared.
Poor Mom had the unenviable task of feeding her family every day for approximately 100 years. One of her go-to Saturday lunches was toasted cheese sandwiches. Of course, when you are feeding a small army of kids—there were 5 of us—you must come up with some shortcuts. Mom would lay the white bread on a cookie sheet and slide it into the oven with the broiler on. Then she’d pop it out, flip the bread and put a slice of Velveeta on each slice. Back in the oven it went, just long enough to melt the cheese. She sometimes got fancy and added a slice of tomato to the top, but we liked it with the straight Veeta. Oh yeah.
Those were the days. The most exotic meal I remember cooking was Chun King’s Egg Foo Yung. I can’t imagine what it must have tasted like, but we felt very cosmopolitan dining on our soy sauce covered repast.
As you may have guessed, Julia Child hadn’t quite made it to Callicoon yet…
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