Jan Norris: Food and Florida

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Answer: White Bread. Question: What Was in Your Mother’s Kitchen That’s Not in Yours?

May 15th, 2011 · 5 Comments

I was rummaging around for bread to make a pimento-cheese sandwich for lunch the other day. None to be found except a two-week old loaf of grocery store French bread originally scheduled for garlic toast one night that never materialized. It was brick-like. Seriously, I could have used it as a bat for the preserved oranges sitting nearby intended for zesting that I didn’t get to, either. (Food baseball, anyone?)

The lack of bread got me to thinking that this would never have happened in my mother’s kitchen. There was always and forever a loaf of white bread around. Even though she made some of the best biscuits and cornbread on the planet, never once did she make a yeast bread, at least to my knowledge. (I was the family baker, if you have read previous posts.)

Merita, no Wonder

My mother bought Merita bread. There were Merita bakeries in Miami we could see when we drove down to visit kin.

Merita’s loaf of white bread was soft, fluffy, with a nice brown crust on it. I have no idea whether it would mold – it never lasted long enough to find out, as bread does in my kitchen today.

Used for breakfast toast with mom’s homemade guava jelly, or as a “weenie” wrap for hot dogs when we had no hot dogs buns, or for sopping up the gravy from my mom’s cube steak and gravy, white bread was a staple. She’d buy two loaves at a time. I’d occasionally have to walk to the Publix behind our house and get more mid-week.

Grilled cheese, bologna, thin ham, banana, pimento cheese and egg and tunafish salad went on white bread – most often with mayo. Dad and I had been known to make mayonnaise and mustard sandwiches for a snack if no bananas were handy, though they were another staple my mom always had in the kitchen that I don’t.

Infrequent purchase today

I rarely buy a loaf of bread today. I don’t eat much bread, but more importantly, it takes too long to read the labels. I am a nut for labels, especially on bread – one of the most deceptive foods out there, nutritionally speaking. Bakeries can call their breads 50-grain bread, but most are made primarily with white flour (called “enriched wheat flour” on a label) – the first ingredient on the label – with grains and vitamins added BACK to the bread. What’s the point of taking out the bran and wheat germ to start with?

Only occasionally – and mostly when I’m making pimento cheese or bologna sandwiches – do I miss old-fashioned white bread. It’s probably more memory than flavor, though for both, I don’t want bread to get in the way of the pimento cheese or bologna taste.

For toast, I like whole wheat or even rye. The rest of the time, I make corn bread or biscuits and be done with it.

So what food isn’t in your kitchen that was a staple in your mom’s house?

Tags: Southern Roots Run Deep

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jan Norris // May 15, 2011 at 11:27 am

    So far, my friends answer the question with:
    Kosher salami
    Egg noodles
    Miracle Whip
    Asapargus in a can

  • 2 Thomas Martin // May 15, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    My mother ALWAYS had a block of Velveeta cheese. I haven’t had Velveeta in the house for 15 years.

  • 3 Jan Norris // May 16, 2011 at 7:58 am

    Other answers from friends:

    A maid and a cook.
    Frozen orange juice.

  • 4 BlackVulture // Jul 7, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    What was the name of that soft wheat bread made with molasses (I think). I remember they made a big deal out of it at the time…I think it was a Florida baker..

  • 5 Jan Norris // Jul 8, 2011 at 7:37 am

    Molasses added bread? Was it Roman Meal?

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