Friday, August 7, 2009
The Lunch Table
Yesterday at lunch I picked up a grilled-right-in-front-of-me (outside over real flames) chicken sandwich and sat down with four friends to enjoy conversation and a little bit of this summer’s oh-too-rare sunshine. My friend Sue chose the chicken as well, though hers was sans bun. As we whiled away our lunch hour on the patio overlooking the parking lot, it felt more like we were sitting by a pool at a country club (imagination is a wonderful thing!). The hour spent was restorative and filled with interesting conversation and insights into each others’ worlds and family histories. I squinted through most of the lunch, since my sunglasses were left behind at my desk doing no one any good. My ears and mouth worked fine, though, and I heard some really wonderful commentary on how our mothers used to cook.
It started with a comment about my never-ending quest to find the perfect vanilla yogurt, of which my now eight readers are well aware. Ellen said her perfect-appearing vanilla yogurt, in a glass container from home, was a combination of Stonyfield’s French vanilla and plain varieties. She loves plain but I can’t do it. The conversation shifted to Ellen’s mention of Ina Garten’s recent show where she made grilled Arborio rice cakes with cheese, topped with a Greek-yogurt sauce. Everyone had just eaten and still there was a collective “mmmm.” Mary spoke of how, back in the 80s, she used to make her own yogurt with a Salton yogurt maker, something that plugged in and had four containers and sat on the kitchen counter. Through some kind of heat and vibration the Salton eventually produced yogurt. With four children, she couldn’t keep up with the demand and reverted to store-bought.
Today Lisa had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat (and a bag of gorgeous strawberries), and I remarked how sometimes, a pb&j just hits the spot. All agreed.
Tracy took one look at our grilled chicken and abandoned her brown-bag lunch for something off the grill. She had brought from home a container of salad greens and one of sliced cucumbers in a soupy white sauce made from mayonnaise, something she says is big in Michigan. We got on the topic of mayonnaise vs. Miracle Whip. Sue, also from Michigan, prefers Miracle Whip. If you want to polarize a group of women at lunch, talk about Miracle Whip. I happen to like its spicy sweetness, but I wasn’t raised on it. Sue was raised on it and loves it. Others talk about MW as if it is the red-headed step-child – not really wanting to admit that they once liked it on their bologna sandwiches with white bread. It’s almost PC to dislike Miracle Whip (and white bread) today.
The most politically incorrect admission of the lunch hour was a conversation about the grease can on top of our mothers’ stoves. It seems most mothers had a grease can (though my mother did not) and whenever eggs or potatoes were fried, a spoon was dipped in to the grease can and the eggs or potatoes were cooked to a crisp deliciousness in the verboten ingredient. Mary said that someone she knows even cooked eggs in residual bacon grease after frying up the crispy strips, to which I replied that my Aunt Loretta did the same thing, that they were the best eggs I’d ever tasted, and once in a while, I do it too! Such admission/confessions are made only to the closest of friends, or to the eight readers of a particular blog, but there is beauty in truth. If most days you have yogurt or oatmeal for breakfast, and if you fry your maybe-one-a-month occasional egg in bacon grease, I say, enjoy it, and you might as well butter your toast that day, too!
Photo credit: Photo image: http://www.victoriantrading.com/store/catalogimages/22w/22w541.jpg