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I love food. I read cookbooks for fun, look up restaurant menus online, and take great pleasure in preparing food for my family. I remember discontinued products, like Kellogg's Concentrate, with a wistfulness that I'm not sure is normal after the 30+ years since I last ate them. I look forward to my next trip to Paris because of ice cream from Berthillon, hot chocolate from Angelina, and that artisan baguette from a little boulangerie on Ile St. Louis that I read about in the Paris Access guide and only managed to buy one of six or so years ago.

I also have bad food memories. These are less common, but I have three in particular that have stuck with me from childhood. My family believed in membership of the Clean Plate Club, at least at my dad's house. My stepmother is an exceptional cook, and I was never a picky eater. Some foods were exempt from the Clean Plate Club, usually if my dad deemed them inedible.

Throughout my childhood, my dad relied on the Consumer Reports cereal review to determine acceptable breakfast foods. However, on one occasion, I somehow convinced him that Lucky Charms would be an excellent addition to my mornings. After one bite, the slimy marshmallows convinced me otherwise. Daddy was annoyed that I was so unhappy with my new cereal, but for some reason decided I didn't have to finish the bowl. I think that happened because he took a bite of the cereal and was just as appalled as I was. Now, my dad is a man famous in our family for never letting food go to waste, but I'm pretty sure that box of Lucky Charms ended up in the trash.

The next Clean Plate Club exception was Shrimp Diablo. I remember the recipe sounded inoffensive enough, but my stepmother fixed it and it was terrible. It was so bad that Daddy insisted that it be a repeat recipe because Barb MUST have made a mistake the first time she fixed it. No, it was just as bad the second time. I remember Daddy adding all sorts of things to the offending dish in an attempt to make it palatable, from Texas Pete to sugar. No more Shrimp Diablo.

My dad always made me try things, but if I really really didn't like them, I didn't have to eat them. Sometimes he would get mad and make me try things again, like mushrooms, but if I still didn't like them I didn't have to eat them. The one exception to this was Clam Pie. I don't know why I had to eat that, but I remember sitting for hours at the dinner table, looking at the horrible greenish gray blob that was Clam Pie. I rather liked clams, and I think the pie crust was good, but the only other two ingredients I recall in the pie were onions and sour cream. I do not like sour cream. The pie sat on my plate, a large wedge about four inches high, waiting for me to consume it.

I don't even remember who won the Battle of Clam Pie, but years later when we moved into our new house, I named the formal living room "Clam Pie", as the walls were that familiar greenish gray, and the off white trim looked like sour cream. The butter yellow of the carpet with its garish green and gray roses added to the nightmare of Clam Pie. I was relieved when my stepmother finally got around to redecorating that room, especially since I had to walk through it to get to my bedroom. I think at this point Clam Pie has taken on Lovecraftian proportions in my memory, the Cthulu of the food world.

Even now, the memory of Clam Pie is making me nauseated, so I believe I need to cleanse my palate with some mint chocolate chip ice cream, or perhaps a perusal of the menu from the restaurant I'll be dining at tomorrow evening.

Date: 2011-12-01 04:10 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Very funny stuff! (it's Shrimp Diablo BTW) My dad was a Clean Plate Clubber too. He once forced me to eat lemon jello against my will.

Date: 2011-12-01 01:20 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Oops, I couldn't make up my mind which one it was.
And thank you! :)

Date: 2011-12-01 09:17 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
I enjoyed the humor shared in this a lot.

Date: 2011-12-02 01:15 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Love the description of Clam Pie as the Cthulu of the food world - just from your description, I would wholeheartedly agree!

Date: 2011-12-02 09:03 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
This was me when I was little, only with peas. Even to this day I can't eat them. Great entry!

Date: 2011-12-02 07:41 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
I know what you mean about missing discontinued food. We used to have a fast food chain called Mrs. Winner's, and they had great biscuits, but the best thing about their biscuits was the strawberry shortcake they made with them. Ooh, I miss that strawberry shortcake. :)

Also, Lucky Charms are best dry, straight out of the box.

Date: 2011-12-02 07:42 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
I like that you named the living room Clam Pie!

Date: 2011-12-02 11:29 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
That clam pie sounds like the stuff of nightmares.

I went to look up Kellogg's Concentrate and found a facebook fan page - apparently there's a lot of people who are nostalgic.

Date: 2011-12-03 05:52 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Hey now, I love Lucky Charms :p

I'm glad my mom was never one to make us clean our plates. As long as we ate, she was very accommodating!

Date: 2011-12-03 07:15 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
I was a little picky as a child but we were allowed no exceptions to finishing our plates..and we didn't get to choose what was on our plates.

I spent many hours staring at my plate, not able to make myself eat it.

But I was "punished" as my mom used to say, "May you one day have a picky child." My girls eat almost everything but my son is much, much pickier than I was.

I'm glad the room is redecorated now!
He never had any unmitigated disasters, thank goodness, and sometimes he came up with some absolutely delicious concoctions... but I was never a fan of his tuna casserole. But then again, I've yet to find any variety of tuna casserole that I enjoy, so that's not really his fault.

A very nice piece.

Date: 2011-12-04 03:27 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
The clean plate club. Winner!

Date: 2011-12-04 05:10 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
my grandparents were also in the clean plate club. this is the reason that I am vegetarian today.

Date: 2011-12-04 05:20 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Great memories.

Date: 2011-12-04 09:37 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
I love lucky charms.

Glad I'm not the only one whose memories, and writing them down, caused nausea.

Date: 2011-12-04 10:04 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
I wonder where that clean you plate club was started, but I ended it in my family with my children. You have to try it, if you don't care for it okay.

Nicely written,

Date: 2011-12-05 01:19 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Ugh! Seeing as I am allergic to clams I got the queasies thinking about clam pie!

Date: 2011-12-05 06:37 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Just the name of it alone seems perverted. I can understand how it might be a turnoff, though I can't imagine wanting to have to think of it again by dubbing a common area with its moniker. I do hope you won that battle, though.

Date: 2011-12-05 08:53 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Hahaha. I found it hilarious that you renamed your living room "Clam Pie". I just don't like clams in general. Unless maybe it's clam chowder. And the clam pieces in that are just so tiny that it's fine for me to eat.

Date: 2011-12-06 12:51 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
There have been very few bad food memories as entries. And I like yours. I like that "the Clam Pie has taken on Lovecraftian proportions." That's great.

Date: 2011-12-09 03:55 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] karen blandford henderson (from
I can see this is my head and made me think of foods I didn't want to eat when I was younger. this was an awesome read :)
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