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Value of home-cooked meals lost on child

When I was a little girl, I was always DYING to go to my friends’ houses for dinner.

Like, every day.

The chances were slim unless Pop was working. He always wanted his family around the table together at suppertime — a notion that evoked many an eye roll from me in my youth.

As an adult, I totally get it, having blinked when Kyle was 4 then blinked again and — BAM! — he’s 22 years old, which is patently absurd when I myself haven’t aged a day. Mwah ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Anyway, I guess it just proves that old saying: Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes! Ahem.

But back to childhood family dinners,

I am not exaggerating when I say there were times when we literally dreaded the 5 to 6 p.m. hour. That was usually the time we were told — forced — to, “Sit down and eat, damn it!” by Pop.

That was just his affectionate way of ringing the dinner bell, I suppose.

Either way, when he called (and God forbid you were outside playing in the summertime and didn’t hear him on the first go-round and he had to resort to whistling for you), we ran home as fast as we could and put our bottoms in the chairs at the kitchen table.

This we did, knowing full well that we’d be eating some disgusting, horrendous concoction Pop forced Mom to make.

Make no mistake, my Mother was, is and always will be an excellent cook. It’s just that Dad dictated the menu, capisce? And that’s why we ate things that I thought were ungodly gross — only to have grown up to appreciate that what we were eating was some gourmet grub.

You know, horrid options such as eggplant Parmesan, chicken caprese, breaded veal cutlets, risotto and, of course, the deeply dreaded homemade frittata. Peppers and breadcrumbs, seafood stew, white pizza, muffuletta … Oh, sorry, I guess that’s enough with the examples. I got carried away — and a little hungry!

Hmm. Indeed, there are many art forms lost on children, peeps. It’s sort of the whole casting pearls before swine situation. Ugh.

How was I to know that what I considered offensive to the palate as a youngster was actually some super-fab sustenance? In fact, I distinctly remember on one occasion when we were invited to this big, fat Italian wedding. Mountains of cookies, tons of meal options (all Italian, of course), and just tons of edible things as far as the eye could see.

Shortly after my sister Gina and I got in the food line, she did something I thought was entirely insane: She globbed a heap of eggplant Parmesan onto her plate.

Quickly eyeing my parents and brother, who were already headed to the table, I grabbed her by the arm.

“What are you doing? You don’t HAVE to eat that. We’re at a wedding!” I said to her, my eyes saucer-wide.

“Um, yes I know. I actually LIKE eggplant Parmesan, Pats,” was her reply.

EWWWWWW.

Oh, well, one person’s poison is another’s perfect plate.

Naturally as I’ve matured, so has my sense of taste. There are very few foods I don’t enjoy and / or won’t try today. So, mangia mangia, everyone, and don’t be afraid to leave your comfort food zone — unless someone tries to force eggplant on you. Ick.

Kimerer is a columnist who loves to cook for her fam and friends — but still hates eggplant. Contact her via pkimerer@zoominternet.net.

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