Monday, April 26, 2010
Oh but they were! I guess that the first, and the weirdest thing, I remember seeing someone eat was something that the family that lived in front of us ate. Tooter (I can't tell you why they called him that... I think his real name was Donald), his wife Billie, and their kids, were good people. Donald used to Doodlebug with Jo Ann and I and Tina was a little doll baby with black hair and huge brown eyes. She was too young to hang out with us older 6 year old kids...Later Miss Billie had a baby girl and named her Patty Jo. I loved that baby!! So much so that I snuck into the bedroom one day and climbed over the edge of the crib and took her out and held her for a long time. Miss Billie was furious that I had done that but I couldn't help myself. I had to hold her. I think Miss Billie wasn't really mad but she scared me so that I never did that again. I always asked and she always let me hold her. One summer morning, eager to get started on the days hunt for Doodlebugs, Jo Ann and I went to get Donald who was just about to sit down to breakfast. Not wanting to be rude, Miss Billie asked us if we wanted to have some eggs and grits too. Of course we did because you know food always tasted better when it was next door and shared with your friends! We sat down and waited while she fried all of us an egg, and laid it over the creamy, steaming hot and buttered grits. We all liked our eggs with the yellow runny so we set to smashing the egg into the grits. I was just about to shovel a spoonful into my mouth when Miss Billie set the bottle of ketchup in front of Donald - who immediately opened it and poured a great glop of the red stuff right in the middle of his perfectly good grits! My gosh! That was almost against the law! No one put ketchup on eggs and NOBODY in their right mind would mix it with grits if they did! But he did... and Miss Billie must have found the looks on mine and Jo Ann's faces amusing because she started laughing and told us we should try it. We declined. However, curiosity got the better of us, and we tipped a tiny taste of ketchup right onto the edge of our grits, and stirred... and cautiously tasted, and I remember thinking that I had never eaten anything that tasted quite that good in my whole life - besides peach ice cream or something. Holy cow, that was good! Once in a while at home I'd get brave and douse my grits with ketchup, ignorning the sceptical looks of Mama and Daddy... They probably knew I would grow out of it, and I did. Sometimes I think I want to try it again... and I always talk myself out of it. I can't bear to think that it might taste as bad as I once thought it would and I will have ruined a perfectly delicious plate of grits.
The second oddest thing I remember seeing someone eat was when I had lunch one day at my neighbor's house, the Kennedys. All morning I had played with Louise and Sherry (I had outgrown Donald and doodlebugging). We played in their back yard and in ours and occasionally a delicious aroma would cross on a breeze and I thought I would starve! Miss Florence called the girls in to eat and as I was with them, she invited me too. I couldnn't wait to have some of whatever she'd cooked. Soon we were sitting around the table and in the center was a big silver pot, steaming, and a plate of soft white bread. Mr. Wilbur took the first ladle of what was in the pot and when I saw what he put onto his plate, I suddenly was not very hungry. He'd dished out a fish in clear broth, and that wasn't the problem, even though I didn't like fish... This fish was whole. The head was still on, as was the fins and the tail. It had been gutted, thank goodness, but that was about as good as I can say about that fish. The ladle went around, Miss Florence got her fish, Marsha got hers, and Tammy got her soup too. I was handed the handle and reached over to take out a little broth and to hopefully break the fish in half because I knew I could not eat it. I did manage to do so and spooned it into my plate. I took the smalled piece of fish I could. Miss Florence thought I hadn't meant to and I had to hurriedly assure her that I had as much as I could possibly ever eat, and reached for some of the loaf bread. I didn't know, but soon found out, that the eyeballs and fish heads were a delicacy that the Kennedy's prized! My refusal to take the head of the fish instigated a fight between Sherry and Louise over who would get the eyeballs from my fish... I could not believe that they ate them, and was horrified when Louise popped one into her mouth and crunched down. I heard a squishy pop... I hastily forced down a few bites of the white meat of the fish, swallowed some bread behind it, drank my tea and thanked them for having me for lunch. I convinced myself that I was needed at home right away and excused myself. I never ate with them again unless I knew what we were having beforehand. Once it was fried chicken legs and loaf bread sandwiches. Pure heaven!
One last thing that stood out as weird was a chocolate gravy that Willese Carroll cooked for breakfast for her kids. We often got a ride to school and we walked down to their house to wait for Miss Willese to get ready to take us. Some mornings she'd just be finishing up breakfast and we'd get a bite of something before we left. She had biscuits usually and a pot of bubbling cocoa syrup on the stove. I don't know how she made it but Jo Ann loved it! Anyway, occasionally Miss Willese would call early in the morning and Jo Ann would run down the path to her house to get a biscuit with chocolate gravy... It was really cocoa, sugar, butter, milk and it was cooked down to a thick brown sweet gravy. I don't think it was a hit with me.
Watching the fight for fish eyeballs had cured me of taking a shine to anything out of the ordinary.
Maybe it's boring but I prefer my grits with butter and no ketchup, I like butter and honey, or sausage gravy on my biscuits... and if anything I'm being served has eyeballs, I think I hear my Mama calling.