These days, when everything from baloney to popcorn, from T-bone to sausage, from peanuts to baby food, is getting recalled, it makes me think and wonder how in the name of God I made it through childhood without being poisoned.
If the word salmonella was ever mentioned, I might have thought it was a kind of female salmon and E. Coli could have been the inventor of Coca Cola for all I knew. Growing up in Branch, we possessed no refrigerators or deep freezers or ice packs or anything in that category. In a little community that did not obtain electrical power until the mid 60s, you cooked your chicken when you killed it and you only ate ice cream cones when the parish sold them at the summer garden parties.
All this being said, very little was thrown out. I remember one year we ate the meat off a big Christmas turkey for a week. It just sat there in a copper roasting pot on a shelf until only the bones remained and then they were made into soup. I guess when the wood fire burnt itself out in the nighttime, it was just as cold in our tiny pantry as it would be in any supermarket freezer.
Our little bungalow didn’t exactly have central heating. When Daddy killed a sheep, it hung from a beam in the cellar until the whole carcass had been fried, roasted, stewed or boiled into soup. I can never ever remember anyone falling ill from eating tainted mutton.
As a child, I consumed all home-grown vegetables. My earliest memory of my father’s gardening skill was seeing him walk through the garden with one of those pump action spray cans filled with the insecticide DDT. Squirt, squirt, spray, spray, killing those cabbage grubs left and right. To a child, it looked like so much fun, that I would ask Daddy to let me use the spray gun. And every Sunday we ate that cabbage, flavoured deliciously with salt beef or fat back. If there was to be a call back of contaminated veggies, who would do the recall back then? What would we do, ban our own produce from ourselves?
We always housed a cow or two in our stable on the Hill. Of all the seven children in our family, I was the one who really loved to drink milk. I often waited for Daddy to come in with a dipper full, still warm and frothy, right out of the bovine’s udder. There was no such thing as pasteurizing or homogenizing or doing anything of that nature with my dairy product. With bread and molasses ready, I would be waiting to gulp down a mug of the white liquid. All that untreated fresh milk might not have helped me, but by Jove, it didn’t hurt me either.
I have loved the taste of eggs ever since the time I would wait for Henny Penny’s "urr, urr, urr, urr urr" to announce that she had completed her job. For the life of me, I cannot remember any system of washing those breakfast offerings before we cooked them. I think we felt that the outside shell was protecting the edible inside. Think about the hullabaloo today if you found even one unwashed egg in your supermarket carton. Lord! How did I ever survive the conditions of my youth?
I guess I’m a poster child for the old adage "what won’t kill you will cure you."