As a young child growing up in the early 50’s, I was fed a pretty basic diet, often consisting of Spam and canned vegetables for dinner. Both my parents worked long hours, and so those were easy-to-fix convenient foods of the day, which now would probably translate into microwaveable dinners from the frozen foods section. Back then, frozen foods consisted mainly of of frozen orange juice, fish sticks (which we got on Fridays, being Catholic) and ice cream.
In any case, there were just so many Del Monte canned peas and carrots I could gag down (not to mention the salty Spam that I imagined came from a square-shaped animal). I would often be left staring forlornly at my plate, until my Mother would chime in with her classic suggestion that I think of all the starving children in India or China.
As much as I tried to picture such scenes, I didn’t really know what life was like in those places, although growing up in San Francisco, I had seen Chinese people and they didn’t appear to be starving. Nevertheless, I understood her point, and I wished that those starving children could somehow take these cooling overcooked vegetables from my plate to relieve their hunger, since I had no further use for them, and it was a sin, I was told, to waste food.
Even now, I make a concerted effort to eat everything on my plate, since by doing so I might be doing my part to stave off world hunger. Plus, Mazie’s cooking is really good! Lately, however, I have been stopping when I feel full, even if there is still food on the plate. I just save the left-overs for the next day. I still believe that wasting food is not right, given all the starving people in Africa.
Perhaps my Mother is standing over me from the Spirit World, approving my dining behavior. Even though I haven’t touched Spam in decades, I do understand that it is considered quite a treat in Hawaii. Maybe my parents will be re-born there some day, to enjoy that canned delicacy once again, and clean their plates to prevent world hunger!