Dinner-time with the Backwords Family

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I’ve got pretty simple tastes in food. I’m a meat-and-potatoes guy. I could probably live on sandwiches and pizza.

Growing up, my Mom cooked pretty basic American fare. Her idea of spices was salt a pepper. For dinner we’d have stuff like hamburgers and hotdogs and spaghetti-with-meatballs and meatloaf. For vegetables my Mom would open a can of corn or a can of green beans, or serve mashed potatoes and gravy. And we’d have a salad, with a big glass of milk. . . For lunch I’d have a baloney sandwich and a can of Campbell’s soup. . . For breakfast I’d have a bowl of Cap’n Crunch cereal.

For most of my childhood, the whole family would sit together to eat dinner. Mom and Dad sitting at the heads of the table. And the five kids sitting on the sides. Dinner was at 6 o’clock. And if we were playing in the backyard, my Mom would call us to dinner by ringing this cow bell.

Years later my father told me that I was always a “cut-up” at the dinner table, from the time I was a little boy. Telling funny stories about what had happened during the course of the day. Or making these witty quips. Which completely surprised me. I remembered the dinner conversations as being mostly pretty bland and mundane. Who knows. My father had a tendency to make up his own version of reality. But it’s possible.

The one dish my Mom made that was a little bit exotic was London Broil. That was my favorite dish of all the things she cooked. And she’d slice the London Broil into these real thin slices. It was crunchy and slightly burned on the outside. And red and juicy on the inside. I would eat slice after slice. I could never get enough of my Mom’s London Broil.

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After I left my family home for good at age 19, I hardly had any contact with my mother over the years. Didn’t have any kind of relationship with her as an adult. But a couple of years ago, I spent a little time with her, and rekindled some kind of relationship with her. We’d occasionally go out for coffee, or have dinner together. And at one point we started reminiscing about those family dinners of my childhood. And I was feeling warm towards her, so I told her that her London Broil was my favorite dish of all the things she cooked. I wanted to compliment her, and let her know that I appreciated her cooking for me all those years.

My Mom said to me: “I never cooked London Broil.”

I have no idea why my mother said that. But it was typical of my relationship with my mother over the years. Whenever we tried to connect, whenever we tried to bond, we could never connect or bond. For some reason we could never get on the same page.

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