Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Four and Twenty Blackbirds Baked at Home

Wednesday, 20 days to go

I know they say hindsight is 20/20. But, I really should have seen this coming. My employer was about as subtle as a Mack truck. About a month before the layoffs commenced, my company had a series of seminars on "Living Well in a Bad Economy." Most of them were about foreclosure help, retirement investment strategies, stress management, etc. One of them was "Lowering Your Foods Costs" and my co-workers and I thought that would be an interesting seminar to attend. OK, OK - they provided food samples and we wanted a free lunch. Ah, memories. The good 'ole days, when we wanted a free lunch was just because we were lazy.

The woman who gave the seminar was used to an audience of indigent women with large families that had never learned to cook or shop for food. I believe as part of a welfare/food stamp program. She explained this and modified her presentation for the 50 or so fairly kitchen savvy, upwardly mobile (or so we thought) women in front of her, who were now ardently eyeing the food samples. She also explained that she was a chef by profession but her sous chef was not available that day so she brought her 84 year old mother to help. Her Mother, she explained had raised she and her siblings during the Great Depression. Mom responded with an eye roll that would make any teenager envious. And it was on.

This demonstration was supposed teach us to be self-reliant and save money. To not be dependant on what the supermarket (and the "man") provided. She proceeded to show us things like butchering a whole chicken yourself, making everything from scratch (anything pre-packaged was "vile"), baking your own bread. Admittedly, a lot of this was lost on us - I personally drew the line at making my own pancake syrup - but not on Mom. Every time her daughter said, "Bread costs too much" or "money is hard to come by, why waste it" her Mom would say something under her breath, but just loud enough for those of us the front row to hear. She made her opinion of the current economic crisis quite clear.

The chef would say, "Times are tough and they are going to get tougher" and her Mom would suck her teeth and whisper, "this ain't nothin." She looked at us with the disdain that only someone who had been there could. At one point in the presentation, the chef explained that she had ruined the dessert (the lemon bars) and threw them away only to find the current offering of "lemon balls" on a serving plate. The fact that Mom had dug them out of the trash was not lost on us. But she looked at us smiling that sweet octogenarian smile , and whispered, "too good for you all I suppose." You and me sister, you and me.

1 comment:

Charlene said...

Great post. You make your own pancake syrup??? That is impressive!