He Didn’t Get That From Me!

Healthy Eating and Other Ridiculous Ideas

There’s an old saying, "The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” and I used to agree completely. But that was before one of my own little apples hit the ground at least a mile from the trunk and just kept right on rolling. I’m speaking, of course, about my youngest son. Let’s call him "Jason”.

Volumes have already been written about this boy (the do-it-yourself psychiatry books tell me it’s cathartic) so for the sake of this discussion I’m just going to zero in on the latest piece of evidence that proves my point about the apple.

First we’ll begin with a bit of history. You see, I come from a long line of good cooks. Not chefs, mind you. Just really, really good cooks whose west Texas farm kitchens offered up meals that were simple, hearty, earthy, and delicious. The astute reader will notice here a total absence of the words "healthy” or "nutritious.” This is not an oversight on my part. You simply can’t slap those labels on a menu of fried chicken, country gravy, buttery mashed potatoes, green beans cooked in bacon, buttermilk biscuits, sweet tea and warm cherry cobbler topped with homemade ice cream. (I just gained two pounds typing that sentence.)

This is the fare I was raised on, and it’s the food I took delight in feeding my family. Is it any wonder then that after all the years spent perfecting the flakiest pie crust, the puffiest yeast roll, the juiciest pot roast and the cheesiest macaroni my feelings are just a little bit hurt to discover that my son, my own flesh and blood, the fruit of my pork loin with glazed onions, has turned his back on it all? And yet he has.

The earliest signs of this startling development appeared when Jason moved into his very first apartment. Like any decent mother would, I dutifully equipped his kitchen with the basic essentials – a rolling pin, a candy thermometer and a Fry-Baby – but to my dismay he never used them. Instead, he went out and bought one of those counter-top grills, you know the kind that funnels the grease down into a little trough. Only he wasn’t capturing that precious grease to make gravy. He was…he was… (I can hardly bear to say it!) He was throwing it away!

Next he changed how he ate his vegetables, preferring his broccoli lightly steamed (translation: "raw and crunchy”) rather than cooked to death in a casserole with soft white rice, Cream of Mushroom Soup and Cheez-Whiz the way every decent American knows it’s supposed to be.

Before long the word "organic” started showing up everywhere – even on his laundry detergent – and he was constantly whirring up all these weird concoctions in the blender (just thinking about it makes me start singing, "Great green gobs of greasy, grimy gopher guts”!)

To my credit I handled his disturbing new eating choice with grace. After all, he was a grown man and if he wanted his taste buds to atrophy, far be it from me to suggest otherwise. But the weekend he came home and I opened my pantry to find jars of wheat germ, bottles of fish oil capsules, boxes of flax-seed "power bars” and a 20-gallon drum of whey protein sitting cheek by jowl with my beloved Crisco and little cans of "Vy-eenie Weenies” – I don’t know, something inside me just snapped.

The next morning as I watched him pour soy milk (ick!) over a bowl of cereal that looked like the stuff I used to shake out of his sleeping bag after a week at Boy Scout camp, I laid my hand gently on his and said, "Sweetie, you know I love you, but this has got to stop. You were raised better than this. You need lard. I need lard. All God’s children need lard. Now why don’t you dump that slop down the disposal where it belongs and let me fix you a decent breakfast?”

Bless his little heart, he looked at me with those big brown eyes and smiled. "Okay Mom, if it’ll make you happy.” And then, as I headed for the fridge he said, "Mom? Can I have waffles and sausage and three fried eggs, and if it’s not too much trouble, maybe some biscuits and gravy too?”

Did I mention how much I love that boy? He’s the apple of my eye. An apple, it turns out, that didn’t really fall that far from the tree after all.

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