Come on in, kids. Hurry on in. It’s a surprise. Today we are going to eat like kings.”
My mom stood holding the squeaky wooden screen door wide open as my two brothers, my little sister and I all bolted in. Our surprise treat was a family version of Waldorf salad—or Waldorf dessert as we sometimes called it. As we ate the crisp cubed apples mixed with crushed pineapple, raisins or dried cranberries, sliced celery and walnuts, Mom told us this story.
“You see,” she said, “when the king and queen of England made their first visit to the United States of America, they stayed at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. The chef at the Waldorf invented a new dish for them, and you are eating it right now.” All those years, I believed that story—though later I learned it wasn’t exactly true. I still felt like royalty when I ate it.
Whenever my dad summoned us, he used a different approach. “Come on in, kids. Hurry on in. Today we’re eating straight from the hand of God himself. No middleman today. This didn’t come from a store … straight from God to your plate.”
Hearing this, we kids knew it was harvest time and we were having an all-veggie dinner from the 60-by-100 foot garden Dad tended. We salivated and licked our lips, especially when fresh corn on the cob and just-picked tomatoes shared the table. If it had rained recently, we also knew that Dad had been out hunting edible mushrooms, which would be pan-fried and on the table, too.
My knowledge about good food is from my childhood. Today, this is called healthy eating. In my parents’ eyes it was simply fun.
The AARP Bulletin’s What I Really Know column comes from our readers. Each month we solicit personal essays on a selected topic and post some of our favorites in print and online. Marjorie Miller Vogel is a reader from Holland, Mich.