Thursday, December 15, 2011

Children cannot live on tagliarini alone. (But somehow we all managed to survive.)

My son, the Scholar, informed me and his girlfriend last week that the 18 years he was growing up and living at home we only ever had spaghetti and leftover meals for supper. I asked him how it was possible for us to have leftovers if all we ever had was spaghetti. My older son, the Sailor, tells me that to this day I ruined his appetite for spaghetti and soup. And whenever the family gets together for a meal, especially if there's someone new in the group, they have to tell about the time I inflicted torture at the supper table in the form of peanut butter pasta.

Okay, yes. We ate spaghetti maybe once a month, with leftover meals of spaghetti for a few days. But we did not eat it for 18 years. And yes, I tried to make sure that I didn't throw food out. I wasn't always successful, but you can make a good pot of Stone Soup with leftover this and leftover that. Of course, then you have to eat the leftover soup of leftovers.

And yes, I did indeed make peanut butter pasta. It was a Thai recipe. I had never fixed Thai food before, and the recipe did call for peanut butter. But maybe Adams Natural Peanut Butter isn't the way to go. I'm not sure because I never did try to make Thai food after that. We were all a bit traumatized.

I only made it the one time, but the meal lives on in infamy. Mostly because Steve had just finished lecturing the kids that they needed to eat what was given to them without complaining and they needed to eat all they were given. So when I served the peanut butter pasta, Steve had to literally eat his words. He gagged on them a bit. The peanut butter pasta wasn't that bad, but it wasn't all that good either. (Pay attention, guys, this is the only time I will ever admit this.)

Peanut butter pasta was the meal I will never live down. Green chicken and almond casserole is the meal my mother-in-law never lived down.

Mom passed on almost 4 years ago, a wonderful woman who, no matter what people said or did, would just comment with marvel in her voice, "People are so interesting!" She'd listen to the story of her green chicken and almond casserole with equanimity and very little defensiveness. Unlike my responses to my Thai fiasco, she would, in fact, just laugh along with everyone else. (I could really take some lessons from my mother-in-law!)

The casserole got green because the recipe called for almonds, so Mom used leftover cookie-making almonds dyed with green food coloring. When they went into the casserole, the rest of the dish turned green as well. When the family sat down to dinner, there it was - a pile of green chicken and some moist bright green substance. This became Mom's meal of infamy.

According to her three children, in addition to the green chicken casserole, the only other thing Mom ever made was tagliarini (which we Southerners, evidently, pronounce "tag-larni.") Mom would put up a tiny bit of a fuss when this accusation was leveled at her. And I know for a fact that the almost 30 years I knew Mom, she never fixed tagliarini. Mom's tagliarini was my spaghetti.

But poor meI grew up eating only my stepmom's hot dog and baked bean casserole with crushed saltines sprinkled and browned on top. Which would have been fine, except that she always put dried onion flakes in it, which I hated. This beans and weenie casserole routine was occasionally broken with a meal of Hamburger Helper or pigs in a blanket made with Pillsbury Crescent Dinner Rolls and Kraft American Singles. Somehow I made it to adulthood with a healthy heart after eating hot dogs in some form or fashion or sodium-laden Hamburger Helper every night of my childhood.

I look forward to the day when my grandson tells his girlfriend and friends he was forced fed every day of his poor poor childhood and how he grew up healthy and hardy despite a lifetime of spaghetti, or tagliarini, or green chicken casserole, or beans and weenies with crushed saltines. And I'm sure someone in the room will say, "Well, let me tell you about the time that your Mimsy served us poor, poor people peanut butter pasta!"


  1. I'm laughing out loud!

    We only ate canned corned beef hash with mustard on top (to disguise the taste of the hash) and tomato aspic salad. bleah

  2. Also, if you're looking for blogs to read and want to laugh until you cry, check out Hyperbole and a Half (she's in my blog roll). I cannot tell you just how wonderful Allie is.

  3. I checked out some of the blogs on your roll last night. It *is* like going down a rabbit hole! I would follow the links that the blog writers had in their posting and then follow *those* blogs. I read Hyperbole and Half's most recent posting. Loved it. I posted it on my FB wall.

    Canned corned beef hash with mustard and tomato aspic salad. Ewwwww!

  4. That is about what I ate growing up, both spaghetti, pasta and hotdogs!I so miss eating at home with my family! Its something I appreciate now that I have been gone from home for a long time!