|My grown-up cheese steak|
When I was a Child, I Ate Like a Child…
As you erase your mental tape of negative thinking, you must replace it with truth and Love.
In sociology we say that anything that has been learned can be unlearned; you just have to work hard at doing it. Change is not easy, but it is inevitable and I find that if you don’t change the way you need to, life will change you when you are not ready to.
I grew up in the 60s in Wilmington, Delaware. I lived in a neighborhood that was classified as mixed. Back then when you went to look for a house or apartment, the newspapers and real estate listings would indicate if a neighborhood was black, white or mixed. It’s no longer done that way, today we just have comps; but that’s a different conversation for a different blog.
My neighborhood was made up of Blacks, Italians, Jews and Irish people. This made for a rather interesting mix. As I got older, suburban areas were being developed and white flight became all the rage. My diverse neighborhood became less and less diverse and more and more black. By then you couldn’t use the racial listings but everyone knew.
Even when the neighborhood’s make-up changed, many of the old shops and churches remained. The Irish Pubs were still around and the old Jewish man who ran the corner grocery never left. The Swedenborgian church whose members believe in a God whose essence is Divine Love and Wisdom is still on the corner of North Broom Street. While the Swendenborgians are hard to find and have beliefs that are difficult for some folks to grasp (a Christian theology that accepts the tenets of most all other religious beliefs,) they are still located in my hometown, just walking distance from where I grew up.
The one thing that never left our neighborhood is a place that draws me back whenever I go home. The Italian sub shops are still in our neighborhood, although now they tend to be run by people of Vietnamese decent. I’m not kidding, the Italian sandwich shop in the black neighborhood is run by Vietnamese. I’ll have to remember that for my next novel.
Anyway, I was telling you that I loved these shops. I loved the smell of a greasy cheese steak being cooked on a grill. As a kid, I’d stand on the customer side of the counter awaiting my turn to order. On Friday’s when my mother got paid, we were allowed to have a junior sub or cheese steak an order of fries (they put the salt, pepper and ketchup on them and shook them up in a brown paper bag) and a small carton of orange juice.
The man who owned the shop was an Italian immigrant. He’d come up to you and start yelling for the ingredients of your sandwich as he was rolling the previous order in that tan butcher’s paper. “Want you want,” he’d yell. As soon as you got the order out, he’d rush you along by yelling the choices for you to pick, “Pickles, peppers, onions, oil and vinegar, come on hurry up,” He’d yell. I loved the sub guy and the smell of his shop. I watched in amazement as he moved with the grace of a dancer across the huge grill in that tiny kitchen area.
I always told myself that when he got to me, I’d be ready and would get my order out before he could yell it, but he was always faster, “Pickles and peppers, come on I don’t have all day,” he’d say.
The sandwiches were always seasoned to perfection and cooked just right. I used to say that I wanted to own a sub shop so I could make great sandwiches. I’d practice rolling things in newspaper to see how fast I could get at doing it.
When my kids were young and I’d make them subs or cheese steaks, I’d stand them on the other side of the counter and yell, “What you want” as they tried to get their orders out. When they could not, I’d send them to the back of the line. The next person got the same treatment until the first was back in the front and could get their order in. This made the kids laugh and my mother would laugh until she cried. “These are tears of joy.” She’d say.
I’ve been a vegetarian since I was a kid, but I still love the smell of a cheese steak or a sub made and seasoned just right. I still make them for family and friends and I love seeing their faces when I do. “Wow, this tastes like one I had when I was young,” they tell me.
I hunt for fresh meats, cheeses and breads and even the oil and vinegar must be just right. I use fresh oregano and grind black pepper for each sandwich.
I hope I have made you hungry because now I’m going to make my point.
As much as I loved those childhood memories, I love being healthy even more. I still have a cheese steak at least once a week but I substitute the bread with romaine lettuce wraps and I use a soy patty for the steak. Soy cheese replaces the fresh cheddar and organic ketchup goes on the homemade peppers and pickles.
When I was a child, I ate like a child but now I am an adult and I have put away my childhood foods.
· What food did you love as a child that you still eat as an adult?
· How can you make your macaroni and cheese into a healthy meal?
· What can you get rid of all together?
Take the time to reminisce, recall, recollect and remember. Take what you need and then evolve.
Be you, be well, be Present
Bertice Berry, PhD.