Have I mentioned I was raised a “city girl”? I think the fact that, by the time I came along, my family didn’t have a garden and bought all of our food at the grocery store was a direct result of Mama’s childhood memories of usually only being able to afford food they raised themselves. Consequently, she reveled in finally being able to afford already-canned vegetables, and already cut up meat like roasts, chops, pieces of chicken and ground meat that were purchased at the grocery.
So, the beginning of my education in the reality of the food chain came when I began dating Hubby-to-be, the farm boy.
After we had dated for a while, we started going to church together. We would attend my Baptist church with my parents on one Sunday and his Lutheran church with his parents the next Sunday (we were equal-opportunity worshippers!).
When we attended church with my family we would go back to our house for dinner, which was usually Mama’s wonderful pot roast that had been slowly cooking while we were at church. I will forever remember the experience of walking into the house after church with the smell of that wonderful roast greeting us at the door.
And on the Sunday’s we attended his church, we would then go to his parent’s farm for his mother’s much-raved-about chicken dinner. When he first told me what we would have, that sounded wonderful. I loved chicken.
But, when I began going there, I had a problem. As we would drive into the barnyard, we would drive through a flock of chickens, and then we would go in the house and eat … chicken!! Yikes! Wayyyy too short a loop in the food chain for this city girl!! I found myself avoiding looking directly at the chickens in the barnyard because I was afraid of making eye contact with next Sunday’s dinner!
I, of course, couldn’t refuse to eat the wonderful (to everyone else) meal his mother had made, but I certainly didn’t eat as “heartily” as I was capable of doing. And, the chicken wasn’t the only food I had a problem with — the peas were crunchy! Okay, maybe that is a slight exaggeration, but they were much firmer than any pea I had ever eaten, and bright green! I was used to canned, Army-green, mushy peas. I didn’t remember ever having fresh peas before, and they not only looked different but they tasted totally different too! Now, it’s hard to imagine that I would have preferred canned instead of fresh peas, but, especially when you are young, it’s all about what you are accustomed to eating.
When I look back, I wonder if his parents and siblings looked forward to me coming to dinner because it was so entertaining to watch me experience “farm food”. I’ve never had a poker face, so I’m sure every emotion I experienced showed clearly on my face.
Over the years, I did come to appreciate and enjoy my mother-in-law’s farm cooking, including her chicken which she fried and then baked slowly in the oven — fantastic! Very different than my mother’s cooking, but every bit as good, in its own way.
And, it did make it alot easier when Hubby’s parents quit raising chickens so that I at least didn’t have to avoid the accusing gaze of the condemned as we drove through the barn yard.
Just the beginning of many lessons learned when a couple start learning about the traditions and life styles of each other’s family.