Coming from the Midwest, pretty much our whole family thought we were nuts for moving to California in the first place, and even crazier for staying here in the second place. My uncle, when we would go back to visit, was not shy about pronouncing the whole state as being full of "fruits and nuts."
He could be a tad judgmental, but he was a combat decorated drill sargeant and a 25 year man at that, so what can you expect? Still and all, he had a point, although I suspect it was not the one he originally had in mind.
In Southern Illinois, from whence we hailed, we thought of fruit as your basic apples, oranges and bananas type fare. And as for nuts, well, we had a lot of walnut trees, but that was about it.
The winter I was thirteen, I walked through my first orange grove, and gazed with awe at the trees laden with large, ripe, oranges. You could even PICK YOUR OWN! Who had ever heard of such a thing? Certainly not moi.
We were your basic "meat and potatoes" family and that was not that unusual in the late fifties and early sixties. My dad did not consider it a meal if both of those items were not present in every evening meal - and at most breakfasts and lunches as well.
We did not venture far from your four basic food groups, which on our dinner table meant beef, chicken, pork and the occasional fish. Everything else was just window dressing.
I had never seen an avocado before landing in California, and I was a grown woman before giving my first kiwi a test run. But my dad could be an adventurous sort, and he went way out on a culinary limb a time or two and ate a mango. I just don't have that kind of gastrointestinal courage.
The first time I can recall being aware of something along the lines of "healthy eating" I was about eighteen or twenty, and a friend (a native Californian, so that should have forewarned me right there) invited me to lunch at place called the Egg Crate.
I ordered (or attempted to) a burger and fries. She quietly, with no small embarrassment, explained that this was a vegetarian restaurant devoted to healthy eating. They did serve dairy though, so I could have an omelet, a salad, or a veggie burger. I didn't even want to know what a veggie burger was, so I ordered the salad.
At home, a salad consisted of iceberg lettuce, some chopped tomatoes, and if mom was feeling frisky, maybe a radish or two.
When my salad arrived, I didn't know whether to eat it or comb it first, as it seemed to have hair all over it. Turns out it was alfalfa sprouts, which I had never before encountered. It also had some kind of curly green leafy stuff (kale maybe? can't recall, as I was temporarily traumatized) along with nuts, raisins (I thought those belonged in cookies) and various other strangely colored items that I was too shaken to inquire about. After nibbling, munching, and masticating this mess for about five minutes, I could no longer feel my lips.
Well, I was raised to be polite to a hostess, and she had invited me, after all, so I ate the thing. But I was still hungry and went straight home after "lunch" and made a baloney sandwich with extra mayo accompanied by some very salty potato chips. Sloshed that whole deal down with two cans of Pepsi. So there.
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Okay, so I have evolved with age. Nearly everything the LOC and I now consume is labeled one of three things: "Less" Light" and "Fat Free". Most of it tastes like cotton balls lightly dusted with Mrs. Dash, but oh well. What are you going to do, when it turns out the high-fiber gurus had it right?
Hope your table is laden with all good things, and surrounded by smiles this evening. ...Marsha