Monday, December 8, 2014

A Chicken in Every Pot

First stated by Henry IV of France as, "I want there to be no peasant in my realm so poor that he will not have a chicken in his pot every Sunday," and later in the United States during the Hoover campaign for presidency as part of an advertisement.~~Wikidictionary

For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land. ~~Deuteronomy 15:11 KJV

I remember when a chicken dinner on Sunday was a marvelous treat. For much of my life, we were down on the poverty level. I think the difference between then and now was folks knew how to garden, how to shop so their dollars stretched until they snapped, and how to cook in order to make the most of what they had. In my childhood, eating in a restaurant was so rare I could count those times with the fingers on one hand: once when I was eight and my father and three brothers were in the hospital my mother and I had burritos at a tiny roadside cafe on the way to visit them (an hour long drive); once the day before my mother's funeral my aunt and uncle took me for a hamburger, thinking I might be more inclined to eat away from the chaos at my grandparents home; once when I was staying with a cousin in a hotel in Chicago; and once when my parents took us all to a Chinese restaurant after we shoveled our car out from a twenty-six inch snowfall. 

I do not count the three or four Christmases my step-uncle took my brothers and I to a famous smorgasbord and puppet show in Chicago. That was a Christmas gift.

TV dinners, prepackaged goods, microwave dinners didn't exist. Vegetable came fresh or canned. Meat usually was purchased at the butcher (fresh ground hamburger while you wait--thirty cents a pound). All our bread was bought at the day old bakery around the corner. Every night dinner consisted of a meat, a starch, and two vegetables. We never went hungry.

Now candy, cake, and other sweets--that was an entirely different matter. Cake was something that appeared on birthdays or other special occasions. We got a few pieces of candy at Christmas. And soda...I don't remember ever having soda. Until I left home on my eighteenth birthday we had milk every night with dinner. Not whole milk. Mom mixed dry milk with whole milk, half each. I never actually had whole milk until I was living on my own. Except back when my dad was working as a milkman. 

The point is, we were never hungry and ate well because my parents gardened, shopped carefully, and prepared the food in a way that gave them the most for their money. Occasionally, someone in our church would 'donate' the extras from their garden. Whatever it was, we ate it. There wasn't any such thing as not eating something because you didn't like it. If you weren't allergic, then you ate it.

I have a notion a lot of folks wouldn't survive now. The other day I read a blog about what to donate to a food pantry and while I agree with some of it (if you wouldn't eat it or feed to your family, then don't donate it), I was also a little put out by the volunteers who reported some people wanted more cookies or sweets or refused fresh veggies. I've had time to think about it since then.

We've reared a generation completely unfamiliar with 'real' food. There are children who don't know where French fries, ketchup, and other foods come from. They've never eaten a banana or orange or carrot or apple. They don't know that milk and meat come from animals. I'm not talking about some third world country here. Those children live so close to the earth they know exactly where food comes from. I talking about American children--children growing up in one of the richest countries on earth.

A chicken in every pot? We'll have to teach folks how to cook them first.


1 comment:

  1. sadly true. My favorite food was made-from-scratch macaroni and cheese. There were no boxes of mac and cheese. Only elbow mac, real cheese, butter, milk, and some flour and salt. It was quite a treat.