Friday, November 14, 2014

Food glorious food - No saveloys, please

Gack!  Another earworm.  And this one goes back to sixth grade at Number Six School in Woodmere, New York.  The Lawrence-Cedarhurst Union Free School District movers and shakers were extraordinarily imaginative when it came to naming the elementary schools.

Yes, that's my elementary school for sale

Sixth grade plays, very important.  We did H.M.S. Pinafore, while Miss Kass's class put on Oliver, which at that time was a fairly new musical.

Food glorious food
Hot sausage and mustard
While we're in the mood cold jelly and custard
Pease pudding and saveloys
What next is the question?
Rich gentlemen have it boys

Okay, a couple of things come to mind - this is America and kids are still hungry, and that's not necessarily parentless kids living in an orphanage. Our government supplies food stamps and other financial assistance to low-income families with children.  There are free breakfasts and lunches available from public schools.  If a family comes to the attention of DCF - my world and welcome to it - unless there is present danger, the family is wrapped with services to help keep the children safe in an intact family.  That includes financial assistance when warranted.  I realize that the victims of homelessness and human trafficking are likely to go hungry, but I don't think those numbers alone account for the percentage of American children who do not eat on a regular basis.  

So I must be missing some other social or societal factor, and I don't claim to know all the answers.  But I will throw one idea out there.  Too many parents don't know how to food shop effectively and economically, and they also don't know how to cook.  I know I went through a semi-rant on this subject last month, October 20th to be exact, but it still irritates me that there are parents who are screamingly resistant to cooking for their children.  (It also irritates me that there are parents that blow their food budget on drugs, alcohol, and designer potato chips, but that's a whole other can of rutabaga.)

Cooking for a family can be easy and relatively cheap, but it takes time, it takes planning, and most of all, it takes sacrifice.  Oh, and at least one good all-around cookbook.  Mine have been well-loved and very well-used.

Food shopping is one of my favorite things to do in the world.  I hate the mall and I hate shopping for anything I can't buy online, but I'll spend hours wandering around any grocery from Publix to Pathmark, Walmart to Waldbaum's.  I never use coupons, but I am a very careful shopper.  BOGOs are my friend.

There are different ways of stretching a food budget, buying on sale being the most obvious.  Ground beef instead of steak, whole or quartered chicken instead of boneless and skinless chicken breasts, tilapia instead of ahi tuna; slipping an extra can of beans into the pot of chili or an extra cup of cut white turnips into a stew; serving an array of inexpensive side dishes, based on potato, rice, pasta, kasha, couscous, or one of the superfoods like quinoa, and vegetables; using prepared and processed foods as an ingredient rather than as the main event.  All obvious stuff to most of us, but if someone wasn't raised in a home where the parents cooked and shopped, not so obvious.  

If you've ever eaten in the home of a family with strong ethnic identity, you have probably seen some of this stretching.  Italian pasta, Hispanic rice and beans, Pennsylvania Dutch seven sweets and seven sours, Asian rice, Eastern European dumplings, and I know there are so many more but my brain is beginning to sputter.  Bread or biscuits. Soup.  You get it, I know you do.  The question is, all those parents of hungry kids - do they get it?  If not, why not?  And how can that be changed?

To say I am a crazy food obsessed cat lady would be a slight understatement, and I know that every parent is not going to embrace cooking as I have, but nothing feels as good as nurturing your kid.  I should know, I've been feeding a vacuum-cleaner-with-teeth for 27 wonderful years.

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