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  Texas : Features : Columns : "It's All Trew"

'Waste not, want not'
was law at supper

Living close to food source, working
to prepare it instilled appreciation

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew
The temper tantrum at age 4 was one of my better performances, resulting in being spanked and sent to bed direct from the supper table.

For some unremembered reason I refused to finish my spaghetti and meatballs. In the early days at the Trew table, everyone had to clean up their plate before being excused. In a not-so-subtle way, I was being taught a meaningful lesson.

Rule enforcement continued the next day at lunch when the rest of the family and employees were eating fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, topped off with chocolate pie with calf slobbers on top. The "tantrum kid" was forced to clean up cold spaghetti and meatballs still glued to last night's supper plate before being allowed any of the fresh-cooked delicacies.

The Trew Family Golden Eating Rules of "waste not, want not," and "take all you want, but eat all you take" were chiseled in stone and enforced with a razor strop.

If you had trouble cleaning up your plate, it was said, "Your eyes are bigger than your stomach."

It's still a mystery today what cleaning up "my" plate had to do with "the starving children all over the world," especially since I had never been out of the county. I find it hard to believe my sweet, Christian-minded Grandma Trew could tell me, "Drink all your milk or the cow will go dry" with a straight face.

As a mean old grandpa, I bluffed my grandchildren into cleaning up their plates when they were young. Now that they are older, we have trouble cooking enough and they not only clean up their plates, but they sop out the serving bowls with the last remaining biscuits.

Perhaps our viewpoint toward food is different today. In the past, we lived close to the source, helping plant, grow, prepare and preserve what we ate. Hoeing weeds, gathering produce, peeling and cooking all took a lot of work, making us appreciate what we raised. The specter of hard times, black clouds of blowing dust and pictures of hungry travelers made plenty of food a luxury.

Today, we push a basket through a veritable "horn of plenty" in modern super markets that display an unending variety of foodstuffs beautifully packaged and sometimes precooked by world-famous chefs. No sweat, no work and very little preparation.

At the drop of a hat, we rush out to a restaurant to enjoy a meal on the town. No wonder few realize and appreciate the blessings of such bounty.

Ruth and I eat two meals a day, choosing less-fattening foods when possible.

No matter where we are, at the end of the meal, the old habits instilled so long ago come forth compelling me to clean up my plate down to the last crumb. The sight and ordeal of that cold, glued-down spaghetti and meatballs, suffered some 65 years ago, still glows in my mind in Technicolor.


Delbert Trew

"It's All Trew"
- December 1, 2004
 
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