I remember Sundays when I was growing up as being rather groggy and lethargic days. Finally the adrenaline of the week had run out, and the sharpness of mind rendered from low sleep and cramming for tests between field hockey practice had faded. After a week of churning out delicious dinners with the required starch-vegetable-protein ratio, my dad would either decide that we went out for lunch or raid the pantry. Sometimes he’d crack open a can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom and throw in some cooked macaroni, and we’d slurp it up with Chinese soup spoons out of a bowl whose bottom was lined with cubes of Spam.
Of course, these days my sophisticated sensitivities baulk at this sort of philistine slop…
Ha. I kid no one. The apple does not fall far from the tree.
I don’t think I could bring myself to actually buy a can of Spam (the shame! the fierce judgement!) but if it was served to me I’d relish each fatty, salty bite that would melt on my tongue.
As for the Cream of Mushroom, I heated some up for myself about a year ago and was sorely disappointed. It was tasteless and grey. The bits of mushroom resembled clots of snot. Perhaps it was my father’s loving touch (and the Spam? no the love) that made those Sunday slurp sessions so comforting.
As I get older and start to see my parents as people and not as Mommy and Daddy, I miss them more, and so I try to conjure them up in ways that make sense, that is, through food. The other week I roasted a beautiful birdy (free range and antibiotic-free of course, to balance out my Spam guilt) and made broth with the carcass. I threw in some whole cardamom pods and slices of ginger, along with the requisite celery, carrots and onions. After straining the broth and letting it sit overnight in the fridge so I could scoop the solidified crust of fat off the top, I made soup: peas, carrots, celery, bits of chicken, a light hit of turmeric as an ode to Campbell’s neon yellow Chicken Noodle soup, and of course macaroni. I love the shape of macaroni: if you turn it one way it looks like a smile, and if you turn it another it resembles the shape of a rainbow – both cheerful things, which is what my father is.
I ate it steaming hot, with a Chinese soup spoon.