magentagirl: (Default)
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.
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