Word Count 467
By Nan Ressue
The food wars began when the baby started feeding herself while enthroned in the highchair. Food bits scattered on the tray became entertainment as they were dropped over the edge, one at a time. She had a strange fascination with spaghetti sauce. This lovely liquid could be smeared on the tray, sucked off the noodles, or best of all, rubbed on her bald head. She was consistent. Every meal with tomato sauce resulted in a red headed baby.
Peas were another challenge for younger eaters at the family table. You would be served as many peas as you were old with the older children yelling foul. My son John found that he could line his up under the rim of the plate and pose as a successful vegetable eater.
Ethnic Dutch dishes, prepared occasionally to please their father, were gag-you foods. Dutch Lettuce was the outstanding example. This dish started out with strips of bacon fried and snipped into small squares and added to big bowl containing shredded lettuce, mashed hard boiled eggs and potatoes. It was dressed with a small amount of hot bacon fat, brown sugar and vinegar. Not good.
Gardening was part of the family feeding scheme and the children were required to assist. My eldest daughter thought she had won the game of string bean snipping by surreptitiously adding her beans to the compost pile. Her father, as chief gardener, directed her to retrieve them from the pile and continue snipping.
It was a blue day for the children when Mother Earth News started showing up in the mailbox. That’s how I realized that free salad was growing in the yard and those lovely greens with the yellow flowers had only to be rinsed and chopped for the purpose.
My little daughter wailed, “How come we have to eat weeds? Nobody else eats weeds…”
There was usually some kind of dessert to share. Homemade cake cut in chunks was offered and you could have any one you wanted, even one out of the middle. One dessert enjoyed only by the youngest child was a triple batch of homemade Christmas cookie dough stored in the refrigerator for baking when time allowed. Two days went by before I discovered that the cookies had already been consumed. “Why fret?” I asked myself. “He saved me rolling, cutting, baking, frosting, and decorating and he had his cookies”. I found out later that his digestive tract had fought back.
One memory that still makes me smile is a comment from a neighborhood boy who often came to play and eat.
“You know, Mrs. Ressue, every time I come down here, I have something weird to eat.”
From that comment forward, I made sure he had something weird every time.