Friday, May 14, 2010

?...it's what's for dinner.

The last few days I've been thinking about my mother asking her mother about what her mother cooked. (The fact that I have a direct live connection - my grandmother - to someone whose identity was formed in the 19th century - my great-grandmother - thrills me.) I've been thinking about this while I do my daily planning (too much) for what to cook myself, my man (when he's not cooking for me), the baby, and "Googa," which is what the baby calls my older son. My man and I struggle weekly, if not daily, to take picky eating, the budget, convenience, health, and the planet into consideration when shopping and cooking. For any ingredient in any recipe or any foodstuff, I probably have at the bare minimum 5 choices within a 5 mile radius of my house.

I'm imagining I'm my great-grandmother (GG to keep from writing it over and over). I'm living in rural South Central Texas. It's 1916 and I have a husband and 11 children. It's late afternoon and everyone will be hungry by 6. What's for dinner? I'm not as interested in exactly what my GG would have served, but more what her thought processes were to make the meal happen. Because if I think it's stressful to figure out what my 2 kids and man and I are going to eat at 6:30 as I'm driving home from work at 5:30, what if my only choices were what was growing or walking around in my yard, or stored away from the hopefully-successful fruits of past labors? My first thought is that THAT had to have been stressful. (If I had to create meals that way currently, we'd be eating begonias and a stray cat.)

Back to my GG and imagining what she was thinking as she planned dinner... First, the time of year would be making a huge difference - was she picking ingredients, killing them, bringing them in from the barn, opening a jar of them, raiding a hive for them, bartering with her neighbors for them? Other considerations... caring for the planet and recyclable packaging... huh? Eating local... was there another option? Eating sustainable.... how about sustaining her 11 kids? Picky eaters.... here's a situation where when Mom says "eat what I make or there isn't anything else", she meant it.

These are some of the things I'll be asking my grandmother when my mom and I go interview her next weekend...
  • What were the food resources available to my GG? (garden, beef club, her own animals, neighbors, local grocery store and for what things, fruit and nut trees, beehive, etc.)
  • What was a typical evening meal like in the spring; in the winter?
  • Who, if anyone, helped my GG prepare meals?

When is the last time I stopped to give thanks for being born in a time of such choice and plenty and truly appreciated how incredibly easy the acquisition of food is nowadays and meal planning should be? Never until now. So, tonight I'll cook whatever's in the refrigerator and like it because I didn't have to kill it myself, it was already in my kitchen waiting to be cooked, and it will only take 1/2 an hour to prepare.

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