Moms are supposed to be good cooks, yes?
Actually, reading that makes me suddenly wonder if that isn’t furthering gender stereotypes and glazing over male dominated expectations of femininity.
Well…poop. There goes my entire post. After all, how can I rant about my mom being a horrible cook when she’s really just a victim of a patriarchal society that forced domestic expectations on her?
Nah. Imma do it anyway.
My mom’s cooking was shit.
Every day, bored little wretch that I was, I’d wander to my mother, who was busily engrossed in her stone age computer (seriously, we had fucking DOS people). I’d angelically inquire, “What’s for dinner?” Nine times out of ten the answer was,
“Something with chicken.”
I still shudder at those words. The woman was obsessed with chicken. I don’t know if it was her favorite food or if she was really that unimaginative. But, night after night, we’d have the dreaded, “something with chicken.” Why is that so bad, you ask? Because the woman couldn’t cook, haven’t you been listening? Her biggest sin would have to be her ‘salmonella-must-be-a-myth’ way of heating the thing. She’d bread them in some off-brand cornflake concoction, no egg wash or flour, mind you, just slapping the cold flesh into the mutilated crumbs and plopping it in this countertop oven contraption that screamed fire hazard. When dinner was “ready,” (note the dubious quotation marks), we’d cut into the chicken and it was not unusual for a sturdy stream of blood to trickle out. I’m almost certain I heard it go, “ba-caw!” once. Rather than gasp in horror and shove the VERY offending meal back in the countertop fire hazard previously mentioned, she….ate it.
Every. Single. Time.
To this day I cook the ever-living hell out of my chicken to the point that when you stick your fork in, the only thing that comes out is dust.
As it should be.
Naturally, chicken wasn’t the only thing my mom forced upon us. There were warm mayo casseroles, warm mayo grilled cheese (lotta warm mayo), pot roasts so tough they should be in Chevy commercials, and cuts of steak so cheap and disturbing I could swear my brother pulled out an entire vascular system once and jiggled it at me.
My dad, trooper of all troopers, ate it all without complaint, save the time she served meatloaf without ketchup. He actually got up, wordlessly left with no indication of where he was going, and returned fifteen minutes later with a bottle from the store. Just as wordless, he squirted it on the now cold loaf, and quietly ate his dinner.
Some other “specialties” of hers included:
Baked spaghetti (AKA, dry as fuck spaghetti)
“Enchiladas,” (Recipe is $1.89 package of burritos, enchilada sauce and cheese. Sadly, it was one of her better meals)
Soggy nachos (Make nacho sauce, spread it on tortilla chips, bake in an oven until chips liquefy)
Brownies from a mix (Don’t forget to forget the eggs!)
Burned garlic bread (No matter how we pleaded with her to pay attention to the bread and please don’t burn it this time…)
Barbecue hot dogs (So black you had to peel the skin off to eat it)
Processed turkey loaf (She didn’t make it, just heated it up and sliced it. Still, it felt like an authentic mom dish somehow)
Stew (Oh how I loathed her stew)
Chicken noodle soup (Bland, tasteless, and filled with surprise mouthfuls of cartilage)
“Breakfast burritos,” (White tortilla, yogurt, granola, old mushy banana. Let it get soggy and ‘enjoy’. Fun fact. I didn’t know what a real breakfast burrito was until I was 20.)
In spite of my complaining, not all of my mom’s food blew chunks (that’s old timey talk for suck, just for you youngin’s out there). She made a decent scrambled egg, passable cheese sauce, and no one could heat up a Totino’s pizza like she.
But, there was one thing she was really good at. Her legendary Swiss Steak.
I say legendary because I’m pretty sure I’ve only had it twice and I can’t be certain I wasn’t experiencing some kind of group hallucination.
The steak itself stands out well in my mind. It was baked in a casserole dish. I think she pounded it with something beforehand. Probably the heavy elephant paddle she used to spank us with (the joys of being an 80’s kid). Then, a layer of steak. Next, a layer of some tomato based substance I still cannot identify. Bake it. Done.
To this day my family still talks about it. Whenever we start bitching together about how bad food was growing up, someone’s eyes glaze over. They look off softly in the distance, as if imagining a meadow filled with baby sheep and daisies. A gentle little smile tilts the corners of their mouth, and then they’ll say,
“Her Swiss steak is good though.”
And, dear readers, they are right. They. Are. Right.
So, who did the cooking in your homes growing up? Did they suck? What was the best and worst thing they made? Hit it below in the comments.