Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Cheesburger, Cheesburger, Coke No Pepsi

When I was growing up there was also different food. I never knew it was different until I started going to school, eating occasionally in the cafeteria or seeing what my schoolmates had brought for lunch from their homes.

Their food was different, weird, strange.

My exposure to food had been at home or downstairs at my grandmother's flat, both food expedition locations were always Russian Food.

I grew up hating cheeseburgers and steak.

But now, I love them, maybe because the above mentioned items had not the slightest resemblance to my families description of those items.

A cheeseburger for my mother (God rest her Soul) was one slice of American Cheese, carefully placed on top of a single piece of white bread, then gingerly slid under the oven broiler drawer.

Most of the time, the so called cheeseburger was removed mostly all black from the nice yellow American cheese slice blistering into large black blisters, framed in equally blackened bread crust. She would always scrape the carbonized bread from the top and tell me that the cheese tasted better that way. Sometimes the cheese was Velveeta, which later on in life I found out it had no resemblance to actual cheese....

Our family wasn't rich or well off, but we managed to have steak once a month or so.

To me steak which I hated, was a thin piece of meat no thicker than about 1/2 of an inch, placed on a cookie sheet and placed in the broiler drawer under the oven compartment.

My dad always knew when the steaks were ready by the amount of smoke and flames shooting out of the drawer which billowed up half a foot or so. There was always a reminder of the dinner afterwards by the darkened soot that remained on the front of the stove until my mother cleaned it.

Fish cutlets were another staple growing up.

I never like fish cutlets either, because every other bite was immediately followed by choking or trying to remove small fish bones.......you get the picture? Russians for some reason loved fish cutlets, especially made from Carp.  Carp is the fish that most everyone throws away because it has too many bones.

This was all done because our family had to live within it's means and cheap fish has a lot of bones, trust me. Another weekly must have was Borscht, the soup made from beets and anything else that might be kicking around the refrigerator.

We all grew up healthy, all thanks to the hard work of my parents. For that I thank them!

The next day followed by Kasha , cooked so dry that spoonfuls of mayonnaise could not impart any moisture into the meal. For those of you who don't know what Kasha is, Kasha are buckwheat groats. A staple in any Russian family, why I will never know.

Mom and Day thought it was just fine. An veritable gourmet delicacy from the old country.

What all those growing up meals did was give me disdain for those items.

It was only after high school when I was somewhere and people offered me a steak. Then they asked my how I wanted it?

Huh? What do you mean?

Rare, Medium, Well Done?

Not wanting to look foolish I said medium. Little did I know that medium would have been considered raw in my previous household.

The tender, moist piece of meat was delicious!

A time before I was visiting some friends and we were all heading out to a local drive in.

I had never been to a drive in, so my friends ordered cheeseburgers. I proudly said I would have one also. When these meat things arrived, I was going to tell them that they had gotten the order wrong, but instead decided to eat what I was given. It was very rude not to eat what people prepare or ordered or treated you to, in the old days...

Imaging my surprise when what I bit into was a moist piece of meat, didn't taste burnt, had some tomato and lettuce on it and tasted absolutely device.

So, that's what a cheeseburger tastes like......Wow!

What made me think of this, was having a few guests over for dinner the other night. Asking how they wanted their steaks, 75% of which said well done. How sad, I guess having juicy flavorful meat is an acquired taste too.

Now I will try pretty much almost anything. Lots of regional dishes and ingredients to try, some are great, so are so-so and some are well let's say they are an acquired taste.

That can be a topic for another post.....

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