In my last post I made as silly remark about fixing myself a fried Spam sandwich which garnered me a couple of comments about that kind of food. That got me to thinking about some of the foods I grew up with. Mother was very conventional in her notions of what food should consist of, but Dad was another story altogether.
Dad dearly loved pickled pig's feet. Every once in a while he would buy a jar as a treat for himself. Mom turned up her nose. She didn't like how they looked or smelled, so Dad and I would go out on the back steps and eat pickled pig's feet straight from the jar, tossing the bones to the dog, who then wasn't allowed in the house until the effects of the pickled bones had passed through his digestive system.
Dad loved the pies and cakes that Mom made. And he could bake an apple pie to rival all others himself. But often times when no dessert was on the table, he would tear up a slice or two of bread into his coffee cup, pour a little hot coffee over the bread and top it off with a spoonful of sugar. He called this Poor Man's Pie. He told me once that desserts were rare when he was growing up. His family was rather poor, eking out a living on a small farm in northern Minnesota. With nine children in the family, basic meals were more important than dessert. He said his mother came up with this concoction as a means to satisfy a sweet tooth.
Mother didn't go into town alone very often. Riddled with arthritis, she was physically incapable of grocery shopping and carrying heavy bags of food from the car into the house. Dad worked in town, so he mostly bought the family groceries on his way home after work. Which is why an odd assortment of food in cans or jars wound up in our cupboards. Dad liked to try new things.
One of the first of these experiments that I remember was Potted Meat. Comes in a little can - smaller than a can of tuna. Looks kind of like bologna that has been whirled in a blender for a while. It tastes sort of spicy. Whether it is really meat is open for debate. Dad loved the stuff. He made sandwiches with it. What he liked best was that it was cheap. As a kid I had to try most everything he brought home that was new and different. I found that I actually like the stuff. It is on my food storage list as something to have on the shelf for a quick, easy sandwich. Along with Spam.
I wish I knew what brand of canned ham Dad used to buy. It was delicious. We went on a lot of picnics at the lake in the summertime. Mostly with my aunt, uncle and cousins. Our family nearly always furnished a canned ham that we sliced up to go on homemade buns, and potato salad. Sometimes the ham was sliced and fried for breakfast and sometimes it was roasted in the oven until nicely browned, usually with a raisin sauce on top. It was all good. But the last canned ham I bought that I could afford was so bad the dog wouldn't even touch it. We're talking about a dog who, given a 10 second window of opportunity, would be buried up to her tail in a sack of evil, foul smelling garbage that was sitting by the door, waiting to go out to the dumpster. That's bad.
About the only thing that Dad brought home to try that I couldn't eat was sardines. I think sardines are one of those foods that a person either loves or hates. Dad loved them. I hated them. Just couldn't stomach those oily little fish crammed into that can. Dad said that was alright. He would eat my share for me.
Gee, but I miss Dad.