Saturday, January 12, 2013

No Mixing

Some people will think I'm making this up, but I never tasted a casserole until I went to college.  No mixing the food before eating. It didn't seem unusual; that's just how it was.  My dad didn't believe in them.  In fact, he referred to them as "damn" casseroles, using the same tone of voice as describing Utah Fishermen.  His thoughts were that a good cook didn't have to throw stuff in a pot and mix it all together.

There were a few more eating rules, such as:

1-Meat, potatoes and vegetables for the meal, but they needed to be spaced so as not to touch each other.
2-Gravy could go on the mashed potatoes but not usually on the meat, except at Thanksgiving.
3-One should apologize if one should accidentally get a drop of gravy on the edge of the gravy bowl.
4-Anyone who actually put the gravy spoon to rest IN the accidental drop of gravy on the edge of the gravy bowl was considered so insensitive as to probably not be invited back.  The rest of us knew better.
5-Cheese was not put on the dinner plate.  It was pre-cut in a plastic Tupperware container and was put on a smaller saucer that was also used for the bread, which also was not put on the dinner plate.
6-Jam had to be so thick as to rival the consistency of half-setup cement, and the more sour the better.
7-Place settings were done quite properly, forks on the left, etc.
8-A separate plate or dish was used for dessert.
9-Whipped cream had to be handmade, none of that Cool Whip stuff or Spray Cream.
10-Food was passed from right to left.
11-Baked potatoes were to be scooped out with a spoon before eating and the shells were not to be put back with the uneaten baked potatoes.
12-Nothing was served from a pot on the table.

The mid-day meal began at noon.  The table was cleaned up, leftovers put away and dishes washed, dried and reshelved by 12:15.  If you missed that window, you wouldn't have known we had eaten.

I gave up trying to maintain all the rules when I was raising my family.  If they got Campbell's soup warmed in a microwave and served in a paper bowl with some toast, they considered it a warm home-cooked meal.  One can live indefinitely while still using paper plates, paper cups and plastic utensils.  I'm not proud of it, but can tell you it's possible.

When I went to college, a roommate made a casserole.  I was hesitant and felt just a tad disloyal as I tried my first bite. Wasn't good, wasn't too bad. That's still my take on casseroles.