Written by Skip Miller
I remember the day well: An early April edition sprinkled with just a tinge of March, sun shining brightly, and pink blossoms on the trees that produce such things. Somebody’s dog was barking. The song on the radio was about a dude being out of sick days and calling in dead. Very clever.
Before my eyes was a list of the worst foods and No. 3 on that list was doughnuts. Surrounded by potato chips and sausages, keeping company with french fries and non-dairy toppings, which we all know belong in the automotive aisle next to the transmission fluid.
Fettuccine Alfredo deserves its place on the list conviction because the sauce is a concoction of butter, cream and Parmesan cheese that produces 19 grams of saturated fat. Saturated fat will kill us all someday. If high fructose corn syrup doesn’t get us first.
Back when I wasn’t much bigger than this I was told potato chips were bad for me. I was never told why potato chips were bad for me. My oldest sister tried to convince me too many potato chips would retard my power of deductive reasoning. That kept me out of the chips for about a week, or until I deduced she was messing with me.
I was never a fan of bathing my chips in dips and sauces. Nor did I go for the flavored kind. I took mine straight. Right from the bag.
A grilled hotdog with mustard, big glass of Kool Aid, and heap of potato chips … now that was living. Especially if it was served at a picnic table seat far enough away from the prejudices of family court, the honorable Mel Miller presiding.
My cousin and I had a hotdog eating contest one Sunday afternoon, and we were still back at the house by dark, wanting ice cream. It’s a wonder we lived.
Once too often—that worked out to about the third Wednesday of the month—my mother served us liver and onions. Yuk. My sisters and I had to prove we swallowed some of the liver before we could load up on the mashed potatoes and corn. How can a kid prove he swallowed something? After we filed appeal after appeal Judge Miller ruled at least one parent had to see us eat the liver.
After their kids were grown and gone, my parents never served liver once too often. They went out for seafood. They also stopped eating spinach, oatmeal, asparagus and catfish. We not only had to eat all of that when it landed on our plates, we had to listen to the sermon.
“The starving children in Africa wouldn’t turn up their noses at that meal. They would be grateful their parents could provide such delicious and healthy food.”
I don’t want to get into the socially sensitive area of starving populations and food supplies. I do cling to the childhood belief that liver and onions would be a last resort meal regardless of its geographic location.
And that brings me back to what started all of this. Doughnuts. Measured doses of all-purpose flour, white sugar, salt, baking powder, nutmeg, butter, milk and egg. All whipped together and then fried.
Some wimpy vegetable oil handles most of the frying these days. The only thing my grandmother used was lard. She didn’t know about saturated fat grams, and not too many autopsies surmised the cause of death was doughnut.
Down the street from the house where I pulled most of my juvenile pranks, hunkered on the bank of a creek and surrounded by a black iron fence was Grant’s Bakery. It supplied most of the town’s coffee shops and diners with doughnuts and cinnamon rolls. It also had a small, storefront counter where a kid could buy something good now and then.
On Sunday evenings during the warm months, people in my part of town wandered around like they were half-baked. It was because of the smell of doughnuts being cooked for Monday morning delivery.
Friday was the best day. The bakery sold 50-pound sugar sacks stuffed with doughnuts the bakery called “day old.” My friend Steve and I could not find anything wrong with the way they tasted. Or the way they could be thrown at kids from the other side of the hill. One day, on the way to school, I smacked a kid in the back of the head with a powdered sugar. It left a big white spot that was still there when we were on the way back home from school.
The worst foods list? Balderdash.
The list is wrong.