The prompt I chose this week:
Describe your least favorite meal growing up.
Everyone loves a good steak, right?
Not when it's really liver. Take my word on that.
My brother and I spent lots of time with our grandparents. They lived through the Great Depression. They rinsed out plastic bags and reused them. They caught rainwater in barrels and used the water for the outside flowers.
They lived "waste not, want not" every day of their lives.
When the garden's bounty of vegetables was ripe for picking, we went to work. We'd sit under the toby tree (really it was a catalpa tree - sometimes named toby for the long, cigar-like seed pods it produces). That tree provided the most shade while we snapped beans or shucked corn in the hot summer sun. My grandparents worked together to blanch and freeze the beans and corn. If the crop was plentiful, they could forget about buying them in the store for an entire year.
My grandparents bought groceries only once a month. During the summer, Greg and I went with them. My grandmother would push the cart. She'd see some food she liked and throw it in; my grandfather would check the price and put the item back. Somehow, they managed to end up with a cartful of food that satisfied both her tastebuds and his wallet.
I pretty much ignored them until they got to the meat counter. If I saw a white plastic deli container being placed into the cart, I knew we were going to have "steak" for supper.
My grandfather cooked most of the meals during the week. In fact, he did most of the housework, other than laundry.
I've been looking for a husband like that my entire life...and The Mister shows real promise at times.
But I digress.
Have you ever really looked at liver? It's an INTERNAL ORGAN, FOR GOD'S SAKE (oh, how I wanted to say that back then!) - but I knew better than to be disrespectful.
It's a blood-red slab of meat, shiny and slimy looking. My grandfather would dredge it in flour and then fry it with some onions and a big 'ole dollop of Crisco.
Are your arteries hardening just imagining that?
Have you ever smelled liver and onions frying in a cast iron skillet?
The scent of the iron-rich blood of the beef combines with the iron in the skillet. Added to the stench is the greasy scent of Crisco sizzling and melting. The smell of onions turning at first translucent, then browning in the oil adds to the overall aroma of doom.
My grandfather would smile while cooking, and would repeatedly ask us if we were ready for steak.
"Grandpap, that's not steak -that's LIVER!"
"And you'll eat it, too...or get nothing."
Supper was served at about 4pm on those summer days. There were no after-dinner snacks. The kitchen was closed. Period. No alternate meal was ever cooked. If you didn't like what was served, you didn't eat...until breakfast the next morning. And really, NOT eating was NOT an option. If the plate was set before you, you ate what was given.
The dreaded main dish was usually served with mashed potatoes and a vegetable, or a dandelion salad (picked from the yard) with a warm bacon dressing.
Hannibal Lecter was wrong - Fava beans and a nice Chianti couldn't improve this meal.
The liver tasted awful. But I choked down my "steak" each and every time it was served. I'd sit at the oilcloth-covered kitchen table and eat every bite of my supper. And I WAS grateful for it, really.
I just wished he didn't feel like he had to lie to us about it. We weren't dumb, we knew it was liver.
I almost cried when my first husband told me he liked liver and onions.
I bought that vile organ meat and grimacing, dredged it in flour. I cut the onions into rings. And I cooked it for him, the same way Grandpap cooked it for me.
I cooked it exactly ONCE. Obligation fulfilled. Check THAT wifely duty off the list.
But there was no way in Hell that I was going to eat any of it.
I like my steak to be steak. Medium rare, if you please. I like to see the pink middle - and make sure it isn't that solid, brownish-grayish crap they call liver.