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Friday, June 18, 2010

Learning from the past and the future.

When I was young, we didn't have too many choices of food. We ate what Dad could grow on the farm/vineyard. In summer, there was plenty of fresh food; in winter, there were both conserved food and dried food.  We ate the same dish every day of the week. On Monday, pizza and a salad. Monday was bread-making day and while the bread was waiting to be baked at the town's ovens, pizza pans were slipped in and out quicklyand could be retrieved in no time, providing sustenance for that day.  No, it was not the pizza that Naples is famous for.  It was  a home adaptation necessary to keep the family fed for the day.

And yes, pizza would be eaten morning, noon, or night, instead of bread.  So, Monday was pizza mostly, Tuesday was minestrone, Wedn. was pasta and another legume, Thu. was meat day, Friday fish day, Sat. pasta with seasonal greens. On Sunday we feasted, with pasta and tomato sauce with meat.

My point is that we were never full. We were always looking to have that piece of bread with tomatoes and olive oil known as bruschetta and served as an appetizer.  For us, it could be breakfast, lunch or dinner. (Should you be curious to find out more about my early childhood growing up in war torn Italy of WWII, visit my memoir blog: When I Was Your Age  A Memoir.)

Sixty years later, and  my new family is cursed not with scarsity, but with abundance. Too many choices, too many opportunities to indulge and make the wrong choices



I never worried about dieting until my children came along. From the time I had them, everyone was talking about what to feed them, how often, how much.  My instincts took over many times, thank God. I chose to breastfeed before La Leche League made it acceptable, chose to make all my own baby food by blending what we were eating and freezing it in ice-cube trays, and serving a variety of fresh produce as often as I could.  It didn't hurt at all that we lived in California and in Florida those years, where fresh food is available year round.

Instincts and experience help a whole lot, letting you know what direction to move.
With the internet, with plenty of books, we can learn about nutrition and health and live well into our nineties. 

Our parents never had it this good. They never had so many choices, and so many resources.

19 comments:

Ann Best said...

Your post brings back memories of my childhood. Born in 1940 I don't remember world war II. It was the Great Depression, not the war, that impacted my parents. I heard the stories of deprivation. I didn't feel deprived growing up, but we were near the "poor" end of the spectrum. My father eked out a minimal living leasing a small gas station. Some nights for dinner we ate from a pot of lima beans that contained a few strips of bacon. That was it. But we never went hungry. Yes, today so many of us have an over-abundance. I think especially of my grandchildren. But, there still is great poverty in the world. So, what DO we learn from the past? To be grateful for what we have in the present, for one thing. Not take anything for granted, and help others less fortunate in any way we can.

Eva Gallant said...

I, too, breastfed and made babyfood of whatever we were eating with the blender. those were the days.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Wonderful post.

Brian Miller said...

all these tenchological advances and i still cant find a way to make lima beans palatable..blechk! smiles. we canned a lot out of the garden with my mom...i remember picking dinner in the field...it was fresh though...

Ocean Girl said...

Our abundance now is fast food but lack of quality time.

Enchanted Oak said...

When I was growing up, we had no such thing as fast food eateries. "Fast food" was anything that didn't have to be cooked. Like a sandwich. On white bread. Yuck.
Your weekly diet sounds delish, actually. Lots of variety there. We had lots of variety too, all store bought. Nothing, unfortunately, was homegrown except tomatoes and fruit.
When we were really poor, we lived on pinto beans boiled with a piece of saltpork with homemade bread and oranges for dessert. I remember how delicious the bread was and how filling the beans were and how juicy the oranges.
I'm not sure what I learned from the past, except that you always save leftovers to eat another day.
We still try to eat them. With only the two of us, it's hard to know how to cook in the right volume. Those leftovers get a little tiresome. They sometimes become science experiments in the far reaches of the refrigerator.

Maggie May said...

I also was brought up on very meagre rations. The Americans sent over egg powder and we had delicious omlettes. I don't think we came to any harm because of the scarcity of food.
I can't bear wasted food even to this day.
Your post took me back.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

#1Nana said...

I was born in England after the war (1950) and food was still rationed. We immigrated to the US in 1955. I still have my ration book. My childhood food memories include lots of English traditional food...beans on toast, yorkshire pudding, and sausage rolls. Got to love the uninspired English food tradition! Thanks for the memories.

Robyn said...

Sometimes I think we have too much choice and not enough of the better ones.

I'm lucky to live in a corner of the world where fresh food is abundant at this point in time.

I wish for all of us to have the same privilege of real food.

I'm not exactly sure why we need fast food a part from a few people making a lot of money.

x

Woman in a Window said...

You're so right.

Look at you here now! Ha! One leg up tentatively. That's you, right, so young. And your family. What a very special photo to share, Rosaria.

xo
erin

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Love the picture!!! You were a beautiful little girl...and yes, we are so blessed...so much available...such good food...and to be honest? I could eat Italian 7 days a week! :-)) Thanks for sharing your memories...you inspire gratitude in us all!!! Love, Janine XO

Kathleen said...

I didn't even know what potato chips were till I started school! I remember telling my mother once when she was tucking me into bed that I knew exactly what President Kennedy meant when he said millions of kids go to bed hungry each night. Such a thought-provoking post. Loved hearing about pizza night.

potsoc said...

In Québec province the hottest item in libraries are cook books. We all love eating and since Expo 67, Man and His World, ethnic cuisine and restaurants have flourished.
That was not always the story though I can't remember, even in the worst of financial times going to bed hungry. My grandmother must have been a wizard because my mother could not boil water.

becky at abbeystyle said...

"are cursed with abundance" is SOOO true. Everything you say here is true...we continue to struggle with wrong choices, too many choices while others across the waters have so little...the world's food treasure is so unbalanced.

Hobo ........ ........ ........ said...

Too many selections requires sound knowledge which is not that easy to know about each product or subject.
Great post - while reading I was emotional. Thanks for writing.

NitWit1 said...

Loved this post. I was born in the Great Depression but onlhy remember what my Mother told me about the days she and Dad ate oatmeal 3x a day and only had place setting and nickel silver for two. I do remember many cornbread and beans meals which were standard, but are still favorites of mine to this day.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

I just made a salad today from a recipe I got from a friend in my email; a recipe she got from the internet...

lakeviewer said...

Becky, what a great point! The world is so unbalanced in its food availability. We have a conscience, we always did, as Americans, to land a hand. We must continue to do so, to find ways to reach and help nations grow enough food for its citizens. We did for many years send scientists and experts to help with agribusiness and health issues.

Hunger needs to be eradicated.

Thanks, everyone for your input and insights.

L. D. Burgus said...

Very nice post. I didn't feel like facing my feelings about Father's day this year but you sure did a great job.