Abiding the meat of my youth
I believe it was the Apostle Paul who said, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child.”He didn’t specify, at least not in the source I’m quoting, whether he ate as a child, but I guess it’s safe to assume that that, too, was the case. When I was a child, I certainly ate as a child. Don’t believe me? Read on, but you may not want to actually be eating while doing so. Food I used to eat Bag of miniature powdered donuts: The little white do-nettes. An entire bag, all in one sitting, on a Saturday afternoon, with two glasses of milk, while watching Wide World of Sports. Now I can hardly imagine a worse combination; powdered sugar, milk and televised sports. In those days it was like heroin. Today it sounds as appetizing as cod liver oil. What happened to me? Mayonnaise sandwiches: Here’s the recipe – pay careful attention. Take one piece of white sandwich bread, spread a medium sized layer of mayonnaise on it, then put another piece of white bread on top of it. Enjoy. I know I did. It was just so very – white.Squirrel: You know, eating squirrel as a child really was the best thing that could ever have happened to me. It is a great conversation starter (“Anybody here ever eat squirrel?”), as well as a fun icebreaker (“I used to eat squirrel – what do you think about that?”), and it provides me with the pivotal item for my “food I used to eat” column. Squirrel: the other rat meat. Slim Jims: I know that this is hardly an odd culinary item, at least statistically. Lots of people eat Slim Jims. Somebody, somewhere, is eating one right now. Perhaps someone you love. But if you were to take a moment to ponder the Slim Jim, you would probably conclude that it is not the sort of thing you would want stuck to your shoe, much less traveling through your small intestine. But I ate ’em, as many as I could. One day I took all my money and bought four of them, then ate them as I walked home from the local convenience store. Having four in my hand was total bliss, chemically enhanced manna from 7-Eleven. As I bit into No. 3, I pictured a whole room full of Slim Jims, all of them mine. Mine! As I finished up No. 4, I felt a little queasy, as I had had enough of this pseudo-jerky. But I could not shake the image of the room full of them. It was no longer a culinary fantasy, but a horrible torture. I never was able to eat another one. Thank you, childhood greed, for showing me the way. Lake kill: The stepfather took us for a swim in the lake. A large, dead fish floated up on shore, looking like it had been hit by a boat’s propeller blade. I thought it was gross, but before I knew it, it was dinner. My stepfather was very resourceful. And a fine chef. Butter and sugar sandwiches (open-faced): An easy-to-prepare delight that will have them coming back for more, as soon as they return from the dentist, right after stopping by to have their insulin prescription filled.Again, start with white bread, spread on butter, cover liberally with white sugar and eat open faced. Mmmm, mmmm. Could someone please pass the attention span? Catfish stomachs: the Hefty Bag of the culinary world. Mr. Catfish scours the murky bottom of the polluted lake, eating the detritus of the pleasure boaters as well as the heavier-than-water aftermath of whatever it is the all those fish are doing. Yum, he says. And he eats some more. Then Barry’s redneck relatives catch Mr. Catfish on a trot line and bring him home, skin him up, cut out his organs and discard them, EXCEPT for the stomach, as somewhere along the line this was determined to be “good eatin’.” Fry it up with everything else and it actually tastes pretty good. Of course, you could batter and fry a tube of Chap Stick, and it would taste pretty good. And I’m not speaking hypothetically.Barry Smith’s column appears on Mondays. Read more on Barry’s blog, http://www.barrysmith.wordpress.com.