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Why sugar peas?  Why cottage cheese?  This thought crossed my mind this afternoon while looking around for a snack.  Lunch was delicious — avocado on rye bread with mayo and lettuce. There was no reason to be hungry two hours later, but I found myself gazing into the refrigerator just like our once-upon-a-time teenage kids used to do.  

Marketing for the week hadn’t been done yet. It was Monday after all — the “normal” day for laundry. I stopped to think about that for a minute and then realized I was returning to my childhood training both by washing clothes on Monday and thinking about sugared cottage cheese for a snack. The women in my parents’ generation washed clothes on Monday, ironed on Tuesday and some even ate cottage cheese with sugar when hungry. 

To make sure I’d know these things, my great Aunt Alice embroidered dish cloths with days of the week stitched in beside the what-to-do on-certain-days motifs. These were in my hope chest. Somehow or another, they got lost or used up since I haven’t seen them in the past 50 years.

Salivating over sugared cottage cheese, I was reminded of salt on cantaloupe (to make it sweeter) and vinegar on spinach (but I don’t know why). I can’t remember the other additions to perfectly good food. Why that generation added sugar to peas, I’ll never understand. 

So today while looking for a mid-afternoon treat, I was flooded with memories from my childhood from sugared peas and cottage cheese to how complicated food has become now. I have many vegetarian friends, and in the past 10 years or so, I’ve latched onto people who are gluten intolerant and lactose intolerant and one who ends up in the ER if she gets close to eggplant. 

Dinner parties are now arranged by various food intolerances rather than introducing compatible people to one another. Recipes are available for all kinds of food these days — not only from the kitchen shelves loaded with books from another era but also the possibility of googling recipes for everything in the world you might want to eat. 

But, I digress. Back to the sugared cottage cheese. I’ll save the vinegar on spinach for the next life.  Wouldn’t you?

Sandra Brian Lore

Sandra Brian Lore had a typical small-town and suburban life outside Chicago — until she served for 32 years in the Foreign Service.

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