2007-06-04 / Columns

Beans and taters

Klonie JORDAN

I believe in sticking with what works.

Klonie Jordan (editor@gaffneyledger.com) is editor of The Gaffney Ledger. Klonie Jordan (editor@gaffneyledger.com) is editor of The Gaffney Ledger. And what works for me is beans and taters. That's what I had for supper pretty much every day when I was growing up except on Sundays when there would be some fried chicken.

Yes sir, beans and taters.

Oh, and cornbread.

Not many folks make a meal out of cornbread and beans and taters anymore.

Eating habits nowadays have changed dramatically. We either get our food on the run, or we nuke it in a microwave or buy it in a bag and boil it in some water.

Instant food is the order of the day because, well, we're in a hurry. We've got things to do, places to go, people to see. We don't have time to wait on food to cook. We need to eat - NOW! - so we can get on with our lives.

When I was a boy, daddy used to tell us those old "walked-to-school-in-thesnow uphill-both-ways" stories and I swore if I lived long enough to grow up that I would never bore people with that kind of stuff, the old "back-in-the-day" tales.

But I can't help it.

I remember when momma would cook a pot of beans all day on the top of a cookstove and she would throw in a big hunk of fatback to give it some extra flavor. I remember seeing that big hunk of fatback when she brought it home from the store. It was on a piece of styrofoam and shrinkwrapped and it would be so greasy if you weren't careful it would squirt right out of your hand like a wet bar of soap.

And I can remember momma keeping a big metal tub of lard by the cookstove. I can see her use her fingertips to pry the top off that tub (really it was more of a bucket than a tub) and take a big metal spoon and scoop a hunk of lard out of there and bang the handle of that spoon against the side of an iron frying pan until the hunk of lard fell into the pan and began to sizzle and slide around. Then she would throw whatever she was cooking in on top of that.

Lard and fatback. Lord have mercy. It was a cardiologist's nightmare. But it sure did taste good. Even if it was just beans and taters and cornbread and occasionally some fried chicken.

For breakfast, we'd get gravy and biscuits and sometimes eggs and maybe some ham or bacon. And momma would cook these big skillets of macaroni and cheese. I haven't been able to find anybody who can make macaroni and cheese the way my momma made it. She would cook that macaroni and then melt that cheese over the top and sprinkle it with sugar and it would melt in your mouth.

And there were special - and nutty - things us kids would do. Sometimes we'd peel a tater and slice it up and turn a stove eye on and put those tater slices right on the eye so it would burn black streaks across it. Then we'd take a fork and stab those tater slices and eat 'em right off the burner.

Sometimes we'd take a nail and hammer and drive that nail through the cap on a bottle of "pop" and drink the pop out through the nail hole.

And on a good day, we'd get some peanuts and we'd put those peanuts in the pop. If you've never had a "peanut pop" I would strongly advise you to try it.

Kids don't do things like that anymore. Or maybe they do and I just haven't noticed it.

One of the fondest memories I have of my dad was the first time he ever took me to an honest-to-goodness soda fountain and bought me a grilled cheese sandwich and a cherry Coke.

I climbed right up on that padded stool at the counter like I was a big shot.

Gone are the days of the soda fountain when you could order your lunch from a guy in an apron and a paper hat.

At the risk of sounding like my father, I have to say that those were the good old days.

Heavy sigh! I'll be out on the porch if y'all need me.

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