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Memories of food offer more than nutrition

By JACK GODBEY

Community columnist

I have always heard the saying that we should count our blessings. With that in mind, one of the many blessings that I have received in my life is that I don’t really know what it’s like to go hungry. 

That statement is no small feat because I came into this world ready to eat and haven’t stopped yet. I can recall a story that my mother has told many times to anyone who would listen about me as a baby. 

Fearing that I was sick, I was taken to the doctor because I seemed to cry a lot. After an exam of my large 10-pound body, the doctor gave his official prognosis — I wasn’t sick, I was just hungry. 

It seems that the multiple feedings per day of milk that my mother gave me wasn’t cutting it for me. The doctor recommended to start feeding me mashed potatoes. That did the trick and the crying was over. It seems that mashed potatoes have been a sure fire way to shut me up ever since. 

While many kids across the country are fussy eaters and push their vegetables aside in favor of something more palatable, I never had that problem. I recall coming home from school and my attention would immediately be drawn to whatever wonderful smells that were coming from the kitchen of that night’s supper under construction. It really didn’t matter to me what my mother would fix. It could be hamburgers, hot dogs, or a big pot of soup beans and cornbread. Whatever it was, I was ready and kept my ears open for my mother to call out that supper was ready. 

Before long, I would hear Dad’s truck pull in and I knew it would soon be time to eat!  We were required to all sit at the table together as a family which provided ample opportunity for us kids to kick each other under the table. One of my parents would say a prayer to bless the food and they would barely get the amen out of their lips before I would start to dig in. 

Since we lived on a small farm, we normally had chickens running around. I can recall once witnessing my dad sacrificing one of our chickens for that night’s supper. It was one of the most traumatic things I had ever seen. 

When the fried chicken came to the table that night I avoided it like the plague. From that time on, whenever we would have fried chicken, I would start my interrogation and try to find out if it was store bought or “homemade.” I suspect there were some white lies told but I eventually ate it and didn’t know the difference. 

I think back to that story about my mother feeding me mashed potatoes as a baby and I always chuckle. However, there seems to be a theme present with this as I can recall two incidents in my life where I experienced great trauma. One was a car accident in the 90s when I was lucky to escape with my life, and another time a few years ago when I had spine surgery. Both times my body was in bad shape trying to recover and both times I can recall family members bringing me a meal with mashed potatoes and they seemed to be as magical in healing my body then as they were so long ago when I enjoyed them as a baby. 

Good family and good mashed potatoes. Life doesn’t get any better than that.