Planning For the Future While Living For Today

My husband and I plan to retire to New Orleans in a few years. His plan is to walk the streets, teach a little, visit the used and antiquarian book stores in the Quarter, and drink lots of coffee. My plan is to write, and teach cooking classes and writing classes in our home. And walk the streets and read and drink coffee every day. In between, we’ll play with the grandchildren.

While thinking and planning for the future, and thinking about my blog, I have decided to include my cooking skills into my narrative posts and write about food from time to time. Got to ready myself to present those cooking classes. My mother was a wonderful cook, and always focused on making a dish look pretty. I hope I live up to her standards.

A good start is when I learned that there were more cheeses than hoop cheddar in the red rind. That was the kind my father always brought home. His habit was to eat this cheese on Sunday nights with sardines, onions and saltines. I joined him. I’ve loved “real” cheese ever since.

He was never one to take any kind of government assistance. My mother said he had too much pride. But one time (perhaps the mid-1950s) there was a huge truck in Hattiesburg and if you lived in a certain neighborhood (presumed to be low income) you could go there and receive a big block of cheese from the government. My father, being the cheese-lover that he was, could not resist this event. I had a vision of a big round, red-rind wheel of cheese. A hoop of cheese like I had seen many times in the small stores in that time. What he brought home was much different.

He brought home a paper wrapped stick of cheese about a foot long. On the wrapper were the words, “Slices and melts well.” We saved it until Sunday night. He readied the sardines, onions and saltines, then meticulously unwrapped the prize and cut into the cheese. As I watched, I almost gagged. This was not “real” cheese he said. It was too soft. He called my mother. “Sugar, come look at this. Ever see any cheese like this?” We stared into the package, then he scooped out a taste. “Tastes a little bland.  Like there’s not much cheese in it.”  I was eighteen years old when I learned about Velveeta.  I’ve never liked it. It does melt well, but you can forget about slicing it.  Give me “real” cheese, but these days I’ve lost the taste for sardines.

What foods do you remember from your childhood?


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