November 13, 2006
Originally published June 11, 2006
When I was a child, I wasn't expected to say "yessir!" or "yes, ma'am" to my mama and daddy. I was expected to say it to other adults, but home was different.
We never said grace at the table before a meal.
Mama was very religious, but Daddy wasn't, and he worked shiftwork for a lot of his life. Bejus! If my brother or I EVER woke him up when he was working midnight shifts and sleeping during the day, we could DEPEND on a rude visit from Mr. Belt and that wasn't any fun at all. You paid for that mistake because you had been told better.
I think back, since both of my parents are dead now, and I remember seeing my father come home from work in the morning, eat a plate of bacon and eggs, go to sleep and arise at about 7:00 in the evening to eat ANOTHER plate of bacon and eggs before he went back to work. He liked breakfast, even late at night.
Mama loved him, and I did, too. But when he slept after working a midnight shift, Gawd help you if you woke him up. THAT was a really bad no-no.
The most miserable week of my life came when I was 10 years old and Mama went into the hospital for a hysterectomy. I didn't know what the hell that was... and when I asked Daddy about it, he started talking about wimmen's internals and samouri swords and I became all confused. It sounded spooky as all get-out to me. I was worried that Mama might DIE!!!
She didn't. But my brother and I almost did from eating a week of Daddy's cooking.
That man was a fine person... about the very best I've ever met in this world...but he couldn't boil water right on a stove. HIS idea of a gourmet meal was chicken a la king on burnt toast. Or tomato soup and crackers. Or TV dinners still half-frozen because he never put them in the oven long enough.
He couldn't make a decent peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
He fed that crap to me and my brother and tolerated no bitchin' about it. Shut up and eat, or go to bed. Pick one option.
I always loved my mama, but I REALLY wanted to hug and kiss her when she came back home from the hospital. Bejus! I tasted REAL FOOD again, and it was good. Biscuits! Gravy! Home fries!!! Pork roast! Fried chicken! Y'know... HOME COOKIN'!!! Just damn!!!
My daddy was a good carpenter, a jackleg electrician, a decent brick-layer and he could handle explosives. But he couldn't cook for shit. It's a damn good thing that mama was fairly healthy for most of her life, or my brother and I would have starved to death. My daddy could build model ships from 1,000 tiny parts in a box, but he never learned to boil an egg in his life.
Maybe that's why I like to cook today. It's survival instinct.
All content © Rob Smith