Mom And Depression Canned Goods

January 24th, 2011 § 6 comments

HG’s family, like most American families of the time, had very little money during The Great Depression  (What should we call what many Americans are going though now—The Mini Depression?).  However, the HG family sure wasn’t hungry.  For much of HG’s childhood  (before Mom, to HG’s sorrow, was converted to health foodism),  the cornerstone of the evening meal was meat stewed for a long time with plenty of garlic, onions and potatoes.  There was fried fish accompanied by spaghetti doused with canned tomato sauce (sounds strange and awful but it worked for little HG).  Favorite vegetable dish was tzimes, a carrot bake featuring carrots, honey, chicken feet and a load of chicken fat to be soaked up by rye bread.  (Now, this sounds really terrible–especially the chicken feet–but it was surprisingly tasty}.  Lots of other jewish/Eastern European staples: Blintzes, matzo balls, chicken soup,  herring (schmaltz, pickled and fried); stuffed cabbage, chopped liver, gefilte fish,etc. Cheap, savory and good. One dessert: Stewed prunes and apricots (salutary for, ahem, regularity).  Oh, there was another dessert: Canned peaches and pears.  However, this was a dessert governed by chance.  That’s because they came from Mystery Cans. Mom, always alert to bargains, would go to the A&P Supermarket and buy Mystery Cans for two cents each.  Why Mystery Cans?  That’s because the cans had lost their labels.  The ingredients were a Mystery.  Dinner over,  Mom would hold a can to her ear and shake it.  She believed she could identify by sound whether the can contained fruit or vegetables.  Her batting average was about .400.  Sometimes HG  had a nice bowl of peaches.  But, more often some cold brussel sprouts, or lima beans or asparagus spears were placed before little HG.  Protest didn’t work  “Eat!! Eat!!,’ shouted Mom. “It’s a vegetable!! It’s good for you.”   (Must have been healthy…HG is alive, isn’t he?).

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