Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Ago

My mother's kitchen, looking west.
Bernie asked me today about what kind of refrigerators our parents had when we were kids.

I know what kind his parents had, because the 72-year-old GE creature is still happily humming away in our garage. My parents had a similarly sized Frigidaire.

Both sets of parents upgraded to newer frost-free models sometime between our clueless pre-teens and unobservant teen years; Bernie's parents kept their GE (thank goodness) while my parents ditched the Frigidaire.

Today's point was that our parents made do with teensy fridges, while we have this 26-cubic-foot Samsung glitzy utter lemon bastard, and the ancient GE I tricked my mother-in-law out of, and a small chest freezer, and all of them are crowded. "How did our parents manage with such little refrigerators?" Bernie asked.

I opened our Samsung Traitor Piece of Shit (which today was not leaking condensation water all over my new tile floor) and had a peek. "Well, there are things that my mother did not store in our little Frigidaire."

Ice water. We have two gallons of purified water in the fridge, because John has kidney problems, and because not only do I loathe the taste of the hard water here in Ripon, but also the clay content constipates me. (I know, TMI. Oh well.) My mother was a great unbeliever in ice water, and considered those neighbors who kept water in their fridges to be ostentatious. We did have two ice trays, but use of them was frowned upon as a kind of weakness.

Looking at my own storage, I can see things in there my mother would never have tolerated. Top shelf: more than one jar of jelly. More than one flavor at a time would have been more than enough. No way would she have had pomegranate, grape, and strawberry. Nor would she have kept a mason jar of dog-quality chicken broth, which I do, for Howie's sake.

Meat drawer, (dropping to the bottom of the fridge) Mom would never have had cotija cheese, mozzarella cheese, pecorino romano cheese, pepperoni, quesadilla cheese, snack string cheese, summer sausage, gorgonzola cheese, a big storage container of grated cheddar cheese, a block of regular sharp cheddar cheese, a chonk of extra-kick-ass-sharp cheddar cheese (for snacking), or salami, or bologna, or packaged sliced turkey. Those things were simply not on the menu. Dad had, at times, a small wedge of cheddar cheese we'd snip at when he was drinking beer and felt munchy, but it was not used in cooking and was not a staple.

Veggie drawer? There was no such thing. Vegetables with our meals consisted of canned corn, or canned peas, or lettuce and onion salad. Maybe pickled beets. In summer, sliced cukes or tomatoes. Mom would not have had a big bag of kohlrabi scored on a store mark-down day, or asparagus, or broccoli, or mushrooms, or spinach. She did not know how to cook them, eat them, and they did not exist for us.

Leftovers? Her meals were made to be eaten on the day of the cooking, and if there were leftovers, they were eaten the next day as the next day's meal. No finicking. No discussion. There was no such thing as having to mark a container with the date to make sure it was eaten before the end of the week. Next day.

In my mother's Frigidaire there were also no:

Tabasco sauce
Steak sauce
Soy sauce
Green tabasco sauce
Blue cheese salad dressing
Ranch salad dressing
Horseradish sauce
Barbecue sauce
Shrimp cocktail sauce
Cottage cheese
Greek yogurt
Worcestershire sauce
Heavy cream

Because we lived in a small town, and the markets were within walking distance, she never stocked milk at more than a quart, butter at more than a pound, eggs at more than a dozen.

"What the hell did you eat?" Bernie asked me.

"Basic meat and potatoes meals, and leftovers."

"That's why she was so skinny when you married her," chimed Alex, butting in on the conversation as she passed through the room.

To be continued ...

No comments: