Southerners love to eat. I can remember going to my grandmother’s house growing up and- no matter what time of day, or what giant coma-inducing meal I had just eaten, a plate of steaming-hot, deep-fried deliciousness would be placed before me with the gentle imperative “Eat.” As if, at any moment, I was going to evaporate from malnourishment. To the untrained eye. this seems like a very lucky break.
But, there are a few snags.
1. Grandma could be a bad cook. This was never a problem for my grandmothers. But your Grandma or Aunt S0-And-So might insist on piling your plate high with unidentifiable, amorphous blobs of something she calls ‘casserole’. Then follows the agonizing moment where she watches you take the first bite to make sure you enjoy it just as much as she dreams you will. Smile and nod, you tell yourself. Smile and nod.
2. The unending, repeating insistence for you to ‘have more’. Seconds can be great. But thirds and fourths are pushing it, and eighths are downright nauseating. Especially if you are having more and more of Aunt Mabel’s Magical Mystery Casserole.
3.The obligation to eat it all. Little kids have a problem with perspective. I can remember being excited to go to Captain D’s when I was a kid [problem one], because they had something called the Clean Plate Club. Simply put, if you ate all your food, I mean if you crammed every single bit of deep fried something-kind-of-like-seafood and its related side items straight down your gullet, then you would get a reward. And by ‘reward’, I mean a lollipop, and by lollipop I mean one of those crappy bank suckers that all tasted the same no matter what flavor they were and had the little, loopy stick. [The fact that this was my motivating factor was problem two with my young perspective.]
This must be a generational thing. Because my grandparents used to insist I pretty much lick the plate 0f nutrients before I could be served my sizable bowl of ice cream. Luckily, grandma’s homemade fare goes down a lot easier than Captain D’s.
For those of you who insist on relevance, I’ll put it to you like this.
My life so far this month is one, never-ending all-you-can-eat buffet of Aunt Mabel’s Less Than Edible Surpriserole. Helping after helping of totally non-delicious, weirdly textured, complicated situations that I am expected to not only enjoy, but completely process and remove from the plate, whilst eagerly waiting for more. I don’t have the heart to out and out tell you it’s not great. But it’s not. And I’m just doing my best to choke things down and stay alive.
Bon appetit, right?