Macaroni and cheese made according to the directions on the back of the package of Velveeta, the Velveeta purchased by my grandmother at Kroger’s, out Route 8, in Pittsburgh, in 1987 or 1988.
Bone marrow sandwiches with butter, smeared onto homemade white bread made by the same grandmother, the bones purchased at the Kroger’s, but from the store’s downtown location.
English muffins, split, and toasted with generic margarine melting down into the nooks and crannies. I learned English muffins had nooks and crannies from the commercials they aired during Sunday morning cartoons and I haven’t been able to forget.
Chicken in a Pot Nine Days Hot, a dish made up by my mother in the big yellow pot consisting of chicken, carrots, and potatoes. Some weeks the potatoes would turn black for reasons only science could explain, but we didn’t think to ask “why” back then. We just ate and gave thanks.
Generic fish sticks with frozen French-cut green beans, also in the black and white packaging of the Generic Isle. They left what I thought then was a good mouth-feel in the mouth. Now I know that was hydrogenated hella oil or something, possibly made in New Jersey and not any fish known to man.
Communion wafers. So crisp and crunchy and yet also melty. Like the water crackers my fancy Episcopalian grandmother (my dad’s mother, not the Kroger’s grandmother) served with Boursin cheese as an appetizer during her famous, daily, pre-dinner Borboun Old Fashioned Cocktail Hour.
What was creamier than 7th grade field trip to Hidden Valley Ski Resort hot chocolate that came spewing out into a Styrofoam cup from a vending machine nozzle? If you had packed well and had parents who were lenient with the breakfast cereals you could add the marshmallows you had hand-picked from Lucky Charms cereal box.
Cheese in a can at Calvary Camp, packed by an older camper who, for a week in 1985, found me cool enough to share with, both of us aiming the cheese canister at each other and then licking it off each other’s fingers in a confusing, sensual manner.
In England when I was twelve, my host mother made me meat pies from scratch, with gelee from the pork bones, that when I ate them hook line and sinker, I thought were like delightful savory Jell-O. Why didn’t we have savory Jell-O in the United States? Why no Marmite? And, why couldn’t an adolescent American like myself drink in America?
My lunch bag staple for eighteen years was the sliced turkey sandwich, slice of anemic Kroger’s tomato, wisp of wilted lettuce, mustard and mayonnaise. It gave me all the energy I needed to fail Chemistry.
Peanut butter breakfast cereal was off limits to us except at other people’s houses. MI didn’t even know what Cap’n Crunch was until I was old enough to sleep-over at Amanda Holland-Minkley’s.