Dinner, anyone?

Steve and I were talking last night about the old blog and he told me that I needed to tell you all a little story about why no one should ever invite themselves over for dinner at our house.  We put a beautiful piece of flank steak onto the counter last week, in a lovely soy, ginger and garlic marinade; it was frozen solid, so we thought it would be fine to leave out until Steve came home at lunch and could put it into the fridge.  However, his dog apparently thought it smelled as good as we did, and got into it.  Only, you know, it was frozen, so she could really only gnaw a little bit off of one side of it.  He came home and caught her, and end of story.  Except, of course, that we actually just washed it off and cooked it anyway.  As Steve exclaimed, “That was a $10 piece of meat!” and my thinking is that if you get it hot enough, all the germs will be killed off.  None of us got sick, anyway, and it ended up being a damn fine piece of meat.  I think it was actually a little more tender than it might have been otherwise, you know, without the gentle gnawing.  A sort of natural tenderizer, if you will.

Food is a funny thing to me.  We grew up poor, so we never got to have the kinds of things even my kids get, and we don’t get a lot of shit food.  But I remember walking to the grocery store with my mom and my sisters in the hot dark night of a Colorado summer, and we only did this once a month or so, so it sticks in my head.  We could pick one thing as a treat-just one, and it could be whatever we wanted, even if it meant we had to put something else back on the shelf that we had on the main grocery list.  It surprises me that I remember this so clearly, because I couldn’t have been more than 4 or so, but we none of us ever picked candy.  I know my mom always bought herself a pound of Bing cherries, a sister always chose an orange, another picked a bag of sunflower seeds, the last sister a coconut, and a pomegranate was my choice.  I don’t know if we all craved those particular items because of a lack of something in our diet, or if we picked things that seemed to last longer, I don’t know.  I do, however, remember how wonderful it was to sit in the kitchen and know we had this one whole thing all to ourselves.  It is a good memory, one I cherish, and something I also did with the kids when we were dirt poor-they could pick the one thing at the store, or we would go to McDonald’s once a month, and I hope they remember it as fondly as I do.

Like I said, we were poor, and my mom’s family was poor, and food-well.  We all learned that there are some things you just overlook; we cut the mold off the cheese and eat the rest, as long as the bread smelled okay it was okay to eat, even if it was hard as a rock-that’s why there are TOASTERS, right?  Leftovers in the fridge for over a week were ground up with potatoes into hash,  and on one memorable occasion we had Ramen Noodles at my grandma’s that were really old, so we just picked the weevils out of them and ate them anyway.  It was just how things were, and even though it makes me gag NOW to think about it, at the time, it was eat what was there or eat nothing.

Things aren’t that bad now, and haven’t been for a long time, but some of that, what would you call if, thriftiness?  Frugality?  Whatever it is, I still carry it over to my life now.  For good or ill, I should say-because I am either really great and blase about it, like in the case of grilling the gnawed on meat, or totally weird about it-like, I won’t eat tuna fish if it has been covered up and put back in the fridge, even if it is only an hour old.  I will eat leftovers for lunch one day, and after that, no way.  I only drink out of the top half of a gallon of milk, and it has to be ice cold.  I don’t eat egg salad sandwiches or meatloaf or canned peas, EVER.   I have an unhealthy obsession with food I am not even eating (I could tell you daily what my good friend SJ eats, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, because I ASK her every.single.day.).

Sigh…I was going somewhere with this post, making some point, but said point has escaped me.  I was just thinking about this after reading Michelle’s post awhile back about her Mother’s Legacy, and as I went through the fridge looking for something to take for lunch (potato salad left over from Sunday?  Hell no.  Lunch meat that was unopened but left on the counter all night?  Perfectly fine), how food can nurture or damage, sometimes both in the same meal.  How it can be the best most wonderful experience there is, or something that you have to do to stay alive, no matter what it is you are putting in your mouth.  How food is the one constant at celebrations or life or times of sorrow or loss, how we show we love and hate.  I have such a strange relationship with food, and I know it, and sometimes I can even laugh and make a joke out of it and sometimes I am ashamed and embarrassed, and sometimes there is progress made; I can now, for example, have two foods actually touch on my plate, unless one has juice that might sort of dribble over into the other one, and not only do I not gag when I smell powdered milk, I can sometimes cook with it. 

However, I haven’t progressed so far that I can throw away a perfectly good chunk of meat just because the dog chewed on it in one spot.  And I also pick up food off the floor and brush it off and eat it, and I have never ever sterilized anything in my entire life except for canning jars.  I will still toast slightly stale bread, and yes, I actually save bacon grease to cook eggs with.  Which is why we don’t have a lot of people over for meals.


18 thoughts on “Dinner, anyone?

  1. LOL. You don’t have company for dinner and I barely eat out. I have food weirdnesses so strange sometimes even I wonder how I never became anorexic.

    But hey…it is what it is, also? Can’t let good food go to waste, or so my momma told me.
    .-= briya lynette´s last blog ..My Weekend (In Pictures) =-.

  2. 1st, that is funny as shit about the dog. I would have done the exact same thing. Shoot, my dogs lick me in the mouth, so what is the difference?
    My step dad tell some of the same kind of childhood stories.
    When I was young, we lived in a small town in Colorado and were pretty poor. The local police would call my dad when someone would hit a deer and we would go pick up the meet.
    So my mom jokes that we ate road kill for real!!
    .-= Danielle´s last blog ..I think I will keep her! =-.

  3. Yes -even when you don’t like what I’m eating, you know. But now, I am totally going to tell you every single time I drink out of the bottom half of the milk…

    I’d have cooked that meat too, you know it.


    except I don’t mind when foods touch each other-that’s the West Indian in me. Everything kinda get mixed up together.

    I would NEVER throw out food just because the dog licked it.
    NO WAY

    Interesting how you all naturally chose foods now considered to be “super foods” for your special treats

    .-= michelle´s last blog ..Friday Fragments =-.

  5. I JUST TODAY ate food that fell on the floor. Hell- it was good deli sliced chicken. I miraculously got it before the dogs did. So what?
    There’s nothing wrong with being frugal. At all. And yes, food is complicated and it brings with it all sorts of weird memories and associations, good and bad.
    Good post.
    .-= Ms. Moon´s last blog ..Boob Tube =-.

  6. Actually… I think you could have me over for dinner. I call it “Depression Era Mentality” – and I’ve got it, too.

    Doesn’t EVERYone just cut the mold off cheese? The rest of it is perfectly fine. That flank steak marinade does sound good. I might have to make that myself.
    .-= Michelle´s last blog ..But I Didn’t *MEAN* To =-.

  7. I love the dog story. I would totally do that.

    We were well-off for most of my childhood, but I still remember how my mom made going to McDonald’s on payday a special treat for us. It’s all in the presentation of making it special.

    I’m compulsive about expiration dates, but beyond that… hell, food costs money.
    .-= Cat´s last blog ..Sad =-.

  8. We had ten kids in our family, so on the using food up thing, nuff said, right? Once my mom made a chocolate cake with coconut icing in the shape of a bunny for Easter. She stored it overnight in an oven we didn’t use (in the kitchen in England, so it was cold in there). Easter morning, when she took the cake out, a goodly number of ants had taken up residence, in the cake, that is. We didn’t serve it to the company, but you can bet she cut out the pieces where the ants were, put the rest in the fridge and we ate it that night for dessert. =o) N2
    .-= N2´s last blog ..Everything’s Comin Up Roses =-.

  9. Well, when you were telling the story about the dog chewing just a little off of the steak, my first thought was to cut around that part and cook the rest. So, you’re perfectly normal if you as me!
    .-= Jill´s last blog ..True story =-.

  10. You are so right about how food can trigger memories. I love your memory about picking the one thing for yourself and I have a similar memory myself. My mom was a single mom of 3 kids under 4 when she first got divorced. Money was tight and food was just the basics but every Sunday we got to go to the bakery by our house and pick out a doughnut. They were the best damn doughnuts I’ve ever had. Looking back I think the owner let us have them for free too.
    .-= Mindy@SingleMomSays´s last blog ..You Can Call Me Baby… =-.

  11. The part about the dog eating the meat totally cracked me up. For the record, I do some of the same things. I really enjoyed this post and how you explained about the relationship us humans have with food. It was dead on.

    I haven’t been keeping up with your blog (I suck) but I read through some of the older posts and just want to tell you that I’m thinking about you and Hannah and the rest of the gang. I heart you Kori!
    .-= Erin´s last blog ..Changes and Synchronicity =-.

  12. thanks so much for your comment on my “our mommyhood” guest post! i love this piece about food. i have a very strange relationship with it too, which is why i’m overweight. well, part of why i’m overweight–the other part has something to do with the fact that i’m lazy and don’t work out as much as i should.

    anyway, i totally understand where you’re coming from–my family was really poor when i was growing up, but i was an only child for a long time, so my mom would sometimes just go without so i could eat. and my husband NEVER wastes food–he grew up on an island in the south pacific where people don’t ever throw food away, so that’s how things work in my house.
    .-= alexis ´s last blog ..diarrhea: it’s not fun. =-.

  13. When I was in law school (read:poor) we used to do group cooking and I remember a time when a friend made this fabulous spaghetti sauce but when it came time to strain the pasta the whole pot went down the drain on the garbage disposal side – of course we just reached in and pulled it back out. It looked like it had a bit of confetti in it but when you poured the spaghetti sauce on the pasta you never noticed it.

    I never knew ramen could go “bad”

  14. Meh, I do all of those things too. Most, at least. Not the hash thing. Reminds me too much of what I fondly called my mom’s “Garbage pail soup.” She called it kitchen sink soup. But cheese with mold? Big deal. Some people pay for it that way! And why should one night out scrap that expensive lunch meat or dip?

  15. Oh ewww! You’re serious that you won’t eat the tuna, but you will eat the dog’s dinner? When I come to your house I will have the tuna that was fresh an hour ago instead thank you very much.

    Stale bread is indeed what toasters were made for. But somehow I can’t handle mouldy bread. Mouldy cheese of course – a lot of our cheeses are bought with mould on them.

    You’re weird. In a good way. But I’m not coming over for dinner.
    .-= Mwa´s last blog ..A small and joyful thought experiment =-.

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