Monday, August 22, 2005

At Mexican Safeway I bought pop, white bread, tortillas, high-pulp orange juice, sweet corn, and bananas. I saw beefy, blonde Byron, he said hello and my heart beat a tiny tad faster. Of course, he is required to say hello to everybody, but I just know he says it in a special way to me.

Flash back 37 years ago. I would go with my Mama down to Oleson's, the first supermarket in Traverse City. It was a tiny store with wood floors, towering shelves, the produce on one side and the meat at the very back. Sometimes Mr. Oleson was there and my mother would stop and chat with him. The one cash register woman had hair dyed a brassy red and she used to call me honey and pat my head. I liked her and was sorry when she moved to Florida.

My mother pushed the tiny cart through the aisles. She was buying food for five kids and hated cooking, so convenience was important. Kraft made these little spaghetti mixes- American and Italian, with tiny cans of sauce and Parmesan cheese. My mother would but one both of each and mix them to together, to tone the spice down since my father hated "spicy" food. She'd buy Kraft macaroni and cheese, instant milk, eggs, bacon, bananas, canned pineapple, jello, pudding mixes, and by the late 1960s- Tang. Space food! It had to be good if the astronauts ate it.

One of the few things she didn't always skimp on was cereal. She often bought big boxes of sugary cereals, the kinds with prizes in them. Since I was the youngest I often got to reach in with my tiny hands and pull out the prize. This was back in the days when they had real prizes in the boxes (Cracker Jacks also had real, fun toys). I still have some Winnie the Pooh plastic toys from that period.

When my father was off truck driving my mother would be adventurous and make wild dishes like tacos or chili! Wild! The tacos, of course, came in a box, with shells and a spice mix. When mummy made chili she bought a small bag of Fritos and would carefully divide them up so that we all got an equal number.

Now when Mummy comes to stay with me I do all the cooking, something she is quite content about. I've exposed her to a lot of food that she never had the opportunity to try back in Michigan- Ethiopian, Middle Eastern, real Mexican. I take her to Mexican Safeway and she pushes the cart and I'm the one that puts the groceries in (no instant milk EVER!) I don't think she notices Byron, though.

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