The following stories were submitted by readers in response to our "Favorite Food Story" contest.
Winner: "A Colorful Experience"
"A Colorful Experience"
My best friend knew how much I loved hot dogs and figured out a way to make the red dogs fit into the pink theme. She brought pink pastel marshmallows from Easter and skewered them with the hot dogs. It was a strange concoction and the kids were cautious to eat it at first, but once they did, they realized how good those skewers were. It soon became my favorite food.
My friend and I grew up and moved to different places. We lost touch for a
while and didn't see each other for years. But on my 23rd birthday, there was
a strangely familiar woman standing outside my office. "I brought you lunch,"
she said. She handed me a plate wrapped in tinfoil, and in it were four hot
dog and pink marshmallow skewers.
Notable Mentions:"Country Cuts"
Growing up in Brooklyn, 4 of 8 apartments were rented by relatives in our tenement building. My grandfather, an arch welder who worked on the Jersey docks for Bushy Steel for 40 years, also was the super of our building. A South Carolina-born farmer, he was raised killing game. The concept of supermarkets escaped him long into his New York years.
Deep-sea fishing ships brought him great fresh seafood, and other ships brought him foods from foreign lands. But he also bought live fowl and game, which he always slaughtered in the basement. As children, my siblings and cousins will never forget birds flying around headless, with him telling us to throw a bucket over them before they bled all over the place.
He had us skinning squirrels with razor blades (not NYC but upstate squirrels), skinning eels (which I love to eat) and anything short of coons and possums. He and his welding colleagues from the docks (most of whom emigrated from Europe and Asia) would trade recipes on how to cook wild game. Like my grandparents, they ate in 90% of the time, and there was no fast-food mentality in the working class.
I grew up with a taste for wild game thanks to Granddaddy, but my concept of the practical uses of a basement will never be the same.
"Long Distance Delivery"
Back in 1963, our family moved out to Centereach, Long Island, "the sticks," 60 miles away from Brooklyn. I was 12 at the time and hated living out there. One of the things I missed the most was Lenny's pizza, the original on Nostrand Ave. My dad commuted to work in Brooklyn and arranged with Lenny (real name Joe) to pick up a half-baked pie or two every Friday to bring homem where we would complete the baking.
I miss those Fridays and haven't tasted better pizza since. I'll never forget the sight of Dad walking in with those pies.
"Peanut Butter Combos"
3 interesting combos from different entries
Peanut butter and pickle, on white bread.
Peanut butter, relish and jelly sandwich... in that order.
Peanut butter and sardines
"More Food, Less Fat"
It was high school circa 1969, and when my mother was feeling generous, I'd get a dollar for lunch (at a time when school cafeteria lunches cost a whopping 35 cents).
With a half-hour for lunch period, I'd scramble up to the "Ave.," the main street in town, and inhale 2 large slices of pizza, at 25 cents a slice, and then wash them down with a Coke, another quarter.
On the return trip I'd dash by the bakery for a Napolean (15 cents), and squeeze in a last pit stop at the five and dime, to top it all off with some chocolate Ice Cubes (2 or 3 for 10 cents).
I don't know what was more amazing: that I managed to make all those stops and eat all that food in 30 minutes for one dollar, or that I weighed less than 100 lbs. back then!
P.S. It's CHOCOLATE MILK and Pepsi that's a wonderful combo!
P.P.S. Can anybody beat my favorite grammar school lunch? Garlic pickles on Italian rolls with margarine!
My food memory centers around my grandmother. I was around nine and we were at her house for Christmas dinner. I was playing around in the kitchen trying to 'help' when I put my hand on the lid of a huge pot. She warned me not to look, but I opened it and there was a dead rabbit inside. I nearly fainted.
That night we all ate rabbit stew except for me. I didn't put together the worst part until years later - my pet rabbit had died a few days earlier.
Pavlov's dog dilemma
The s o u n d of the
Good Humor man's truck
Ringing his bells of
Bliss--on the other side
Of streetline dividing
Our ordinance not allowing vendors--from the "other side" of pleasure... one step over-and my oral orgasm began!
"Cool and mobile"
I remember waiting for the ice cream man to come around. First you would have Good Humor; then you would have Bungalow Bar. But how many remember the Howard Johnson Man! He would come around with that weird truck with the orange roof!
Spaghetti Sandwiches!! Eggplant Parmigiana Sandwiches!! Glorious Italian food leftovers!! Carefully prepared and lovingly served a night or two before, by Nonna Lucia, these cold leftovers ("They taste-a better the next-a day!" Nonna would lovingly say with great authority) kept Ace and Sis from too much appalling exposure to the dubious school lunches served at JHS 135.
We knew one kid who bought a salad, only to find a piece of buttered wood (a garnish?) in the bowl. Another time, a smiling cafeteria worker gave out "free milk!" "OH BOY," we said -- and our grins quickly puckered - it was SOUR!!! Thank God for Nonna's culinary talents -- pizza, plus spaghetti, eggplant and anything she could cook that we could get to fit between two slices of bread!!
"Fish on the go"
My family travled a lot when I was a kid and we often ate at truck stops. For some reason I always ordered fish sticks and rootbeer! That combination now makes me want to puke - but I loved it at the time!
I remember eating lunch in our junior high school with several of my friends. We usually ate the cafeteria food, unless it was too bad to eat, and only good to fling. On those occasions, you would fling it somewhere in the cafeteria, with the hope of it landing on someone. Of course, you didn' t want the cafeteria monitor to find out, so you'd do it in a sneaky fashion.
On the days when the food was edible, we'd "wolf it down" as quickly as possible because whoever finished first would have "rights" to start eating the other guys' food. One day we were having meatballs and mashed potatoes. I really couldn't stand the way they cooked the meatballs. I said, "Hey, anyone want my meatballs?" and before I could even finish the sentence, four hands descended on my plate to scoop up what was there. It was truly a memorable experience.
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