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Channeling Food

by Eva Pasco 

Channeling FoodThough this ramble pertains to a real life incident which serially occurred during my childhood in the Sixties, it has nothing to do with social or technological change, assassinations, fashion, music innovations, Camelot, civil rights, gay and women’s liberation, Vietnam, or sexual freedom. It’s all about “channeling” my food—yes-- grooving, guttering, or furrowing my mashed potatoes. Dee Dee Sharp’s “Mashed Potato Time” (1962): Mashed Potato, Ya a weem o wep a weem o wep, /Mashed Potato, ya, ya, ya, ya, It's the latest, aw baby,/It's the greatest, come on honey,/ Ya, ya ya, ya…Chances are, the steaks were high for channeling my food every Monday night after ritual religious instruction classes.   


During the early Sixties when I was a finicky eater, and bad to the bone as in skin and bones, with the handle “Skinny Bones” –a sizeable bunch from each  Lincoln Community School classroom attended religious instruction classes every Monday after school. Transported to Lincoln Memorial by volunteer parents and our parish priest, we got a ride back home via charted school bus. Since my father worked two jobs to bring home the bacon, dinner time was on his schedule and my mother catered the evening meals to his every whim. Without fail, he looked forward to a dinner of steak, mashed potatoes, and a tossed salad doused with oil and vinegar. This same meal I’d now chomp at the bit for, was one I dreaded. 


 Most times when I’d arrive home on Monday evening, my dad had just about finished eating dinner. Mine was warmed up which meant things had sort of dried up, rendering my steak smothered in onions like shoe leather. My mashed potatoes clumped despite rivulets of gravy.  Fussy to begin with, I’d cut minute pieces of fat I’d detect on my steak with surgical precision. Between spitting out pieces into my napkin, burying others into furrows I’d grooved into the mashed potatoes, and storing several pieces in my jowl pockets to flush down the toilet—I barely ingested protein.  I’d toy with my potatoes and neglected my soggy salad.  


All the while I channeled my food, my mother let me know she was wise to my subversive tactics and admonished me to eat which caused tears to well. My father ordered me to sit there until every bit was finished.  Soon deserted at the table while he left for work and my mother started the dishes, I’d make scraping sounds with my fork but still couldn’t bring myself to eat what had become colder and more congealed.  Eventually my mother took the plate away and I was off the hook.  I could start a separate story about how I’d separate the chick peas from the pasta in pasta e ceci, cringing in horror, at my mother’s perverse remark. “I see you’re saving the chick peas for last.”  


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