‘Food’: I don’t ever remember eating that corn pudding
At the end of this month, we’re all going to overdose on it.
I don’t care much for Thanksgiving as a holiday. I mean, there’s nothing really wrong with it. It’s just that it’s all of the work with little of the reward. I don’t get to watch my kids open presents. I don’t get to wake my kids up, for a change, on Thanksgiving morning and demand that they haul their hineys out of bed to tear into some pumpkin pie.
Author’s Note: you best believe I’m setting my alarm for 3:15 a.m. on Dec. 25. Because all I want for Christmas is a chance to shatter someone else’s sleep for once.
But that’s another column for another month.
It’s almost hard to believe that we’ve come right out and dedicated an entire day of the year to celebrate specifically with food (I will not, I repeat NOT, get into the historical accuracy of the malarkey they teach elementary school kids about the first Thanksgiving, and refer here instead to what Thanksgiving has become), considering the fact that food is already at the heart of every emotionally-charged (and emotionally flatlined) social interaction known to man. Death in the community? Take the family a casserole. Brand new baby in the neighborhood? Take the new mom a casserole. New family moved in next door? You know what to do.
Casserole it up, y’all.
Grief, joy, rites of passage, celebrations, tragedies, holidays, Friday evenings in the summer with no rain and fire wood. It really does not matter what the occasion for gathering happens to be. For humans, food is a part of it. Breaking bread with others is one way that we connect with one another. Simply sharing a meal in and of itself is an act of communion. No matter what differences we have with one another, we all eat food. We all require food. It’s the shared need for nourishment that reminds us how much we have in common, and how much more important that basic need is than the splitting of the hairs of ideology and belief.
Muslim, Christian, Jew, Agnostic, Pagan, Atheist, Satanist…everyone needs to eat.
Everyone can empathize with the sensation of hunger.
And the opposite of that sensation, hunger, is the comfort of fullness.
We’re vicious animals, we humans. We’ll tear one another apart for resources. It shouldn’t be that way. Our ability to understand the feeling of hunger should make us more able to empathize with others. We should be feeding one another. Nourishing each other. Not denying others nourishment in order to fatten ourselves.
Regardless of the questionable veracity of the typical elementary school First Thanksgiving lesson, one thing is relatively certain: Corn was there.
Corn was the most basic crop in this country in the 1600’s, by all accounts, and by the same accounts the colonists owe a significant debt of gratitude for their Wampanoag instructors who schooled the newbs in corn cultivation by fertilizing the earth with fish. While the bounty we spread before ourselves later this month may bear only mild to moderate similarity to the actual first Thanksgiving “feast,” we can rest assured that the corn was there, and that it looked a lot more like the corn recipe I’m about to drop on you than your typical steaming bowl of golden nuggets.
Which, actually, sounds pretty icky when you describe it that way.
My grandmother, Louise, my father’s mother, is far and away the family member I most associate with food.
Mama could cook, girls and boys.
And I remember so many of her signature meals. Homemade stuffed noodles. Black bottom pie. Bread from scratch. Mmm. There’s no mistaking where my matronly upper arms come from, kids. Same person who gave me my appreciation for carbohydrates.
But I don’t remember ever, ever eating corn pudding that she made.
I’m sure I did. I mean this is one of her go-to recipes. One of the main family staple recipes, so I know she must have made it for me at some point. But there are a lot of memories from my childhood that I can’t quite access in any great measure of detail, and I suppose it’s as true for the good as the bad. I came across this recipe about fifteen years ago, when my aunt and uncle – my grandmother’s son and his wife – lived in Virginia. I spent a lot of time about an hour outside of D.C. in their home. From a quick weekend jaunt to a week and a half vacation, I loved to visit them. Part of what I loved was the shared experience and effort made in making meals together.
And it was in Virginia that I was exposed to my grandmother’s corn recipe. The only corn recipe any of us ever need.
The corn recipe to end all corn recipes.
The grandmother of all corn recipes.
Hahaha. Haha. Ha.
Okay. So that joke was…dare I say it…kinda corny.
Okie doke. I’ve officially made my own self sick.
If you’ve never had corn pudding, and if you like food, then just get ready because this is going to blow your foodie noodles. Just in time for Thanksgiving, here’s a new recipe to try: