Food and Class.. what you eat says a lot about you.

This weekend was one of those lazy do nothing sorts of weekends, since with the arrival of the little one three years ago, I rarely make plans for the weekends since kids have a habit of cramping your style. However it turned into a full weekend, which started with the little one and I hitting up a yard sale being put on by one of our neighbors.

I should start off by saying these particular neighbors are one of the two on the block that I don’t speak to other than to wave or just a passing hello if they are walking down the street. Yet they always struck me as solidly working class, I estimate them to be early 50’s maybe late 40’s. I often see the husband coming home from work in the morning with his lunch pail in hand when he gets out the car and walks to get his newspaper from the box. The wife appears to babysit the grand kids since every day I see their daughter dropping her kids off on route to work in a scrub suit, she looks to be early 20’s and the suit reminds me of the medical assisting students I would see at my former place of employment.

For the past month, I have noticed a vehicle with out of state plates and what appears to be another daughter with a couple of preschool aged kids… from my perch on the porch when I am out drinking coffee, the family reminds me of Dan and Roseanne Connor from the old 1990’s tv show, Roseanne. Hardscrable white folks, salt of the earth people.. not pretentious in any way.

So now that I have set the scene, back to the story of the yard sale. Mini-me and I roll up and they have tons of kids stuff they are selling off, which as a bargain hunter, I love that sort of thing so while the wee one and I are sorting through the goodies. The one adult daughter yells out to her kids “Go tell Auntie to make y’all some kool-aid”. I must admit, my jaw did a slight drop, see most of the folks I know these days would never in a million years give their kids, small ones no less kool-aid. In fact I felt bad recently when I told a friend that I bought a box of Lucky Charms for myself and my daughter ended up eating the box.

No, sugar sweetned cereal, kool-aid and other processed delights that I craved as a child are generally forbidden outside of the lower classes. See, food says a lot about where you came from. Fact is for years I used to eat fried bologna sandwiches with Miracle Whip but when I stopped buying white bread and started getting multi-grain bread years ago, the allure of fried bologna sandwiches went out the window. Even the spousal unit who also grew up working class has his own delights from childhood, spam and fried egg sandwiches, apparently when times was tight his Mom made these a lot.

My best friend and I joke about how we may be some of the last college educated Black folks that like swine, admittedly though most meat does not agree with me, but I love a fried pork chop sandwich, best served on white bread with hot sauce. ( I tried to give up the swine earlier this year but it started calling my name) Growing up we ate all manner of pork, though I personally drew the line at pig feet/pig ears/ pig tails and chitlins other than that I ate pork. (though chitlins was a delicacy in our family, my Mom used to cook 30 lbs of those of those wretched smelling things on Christmas and Thanksgiving)

 However as I started moving up the class ladder in the past decade, I have grown to realize that most of the brothas and sistas I meet especially if we are not from the same class, don’t share fond memories of neckbones and pinto beans. Whereas I would give a lot right now to have some fried catfish (they don’t sell this in Maine at least not fresh) and spaghetti right now, most of my sista-friends here in Maine, don’t know nothing about that.

In graduate school several years ago, I went to a Japanese restaurant for the first time with some colleagues from my department, mind you I was the only Black person in my department. Well everyone was getting hot and bothered over sushi, well at that time the kid could not wrap her brain around the idea of sushi (shit, where I come from we fry the shit) so I ordered tempura. How come everyone looked at my Black ass like I was an idiot, well I have since learned to eat sushi since after year one in grad school and learning that my adviser loved sushi, I figured networking might get better if I learned to learn the ways of the natives a bit, so I have made myself like sushi.

Yet truthfully when I hit an emotional low, I crave comfort food, and that’s when the working class side of me comes out, recently that was round steak and rice smothered in gravy with biscuits and fuck the veggies. I admit I have come along way since I would say 95% of the time I strive to eat healthy but all this to say that for most of us class even when we move up the ladder in many cases, what we eat reveals a lot about where we come from.

Now let me go get my pitcher ready for my once a year grape kool-aid and Little Debbie’s swiss rolls.

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