©Shers Gallagher 2014
I grew up in the midst of a big gaggle of kids, which is why a lot of my memories include several overnights with the grandparents who were kid-oriented and loved us to bits. Yet, in truth, I think that even they needed a break from us now and again. One of these times was when they left us to spend an afternoon at a neighbour’s house, who’d also had grandchildren to watch that day. And, I’ll never forget the memory, if only for the lunch menu item the grandmother had served.
I never thought that my little Irish-American mother spoilt us kids. In my mind, it was more like she indulged us with her own love of children and play. Yet, I can’t remember her ever serving us canned foods for a meal, except for maybe a cup of warm Campbell soup along with a sandwich. But that was it. So, when this neighbour of my grandparents’ served us all platefuls of canned Spaghetti-Os, I was appalled. I was also brought up to be polite, and did try to be as mannerly as a young girl could be, being raised in the midst of a ramshackle bunch of brothers. So, I sniffed and eyed and played around with all those red, soupy over-starched ‘O’s’ as long as I could without seeming rude. Then I thanked the lady and told her I really wasn’t that hungry after all. When I got home, I told my mother how the woman had taken several cans of these ‘O’s’, plopped them in a big pot, fired up the burner and blasted them all to a boil before serving. Mom agreed that this sounded disgusting, and that was that.
I had forgotten about my Spaghetti-O moment until something my Dutch husband had said about growing up in Holland and watching American TV series, wondering what that big bowl of white paste was about that American families always seemed to be plopping in the middle of the dinner table and serving their kids. He had never known what it was and thought it an odd dish for Americans to consume as a part of their daily diet, mostly because it looked to him like something one might apply to their walls before papering. Hahaha. When I told him it was simply potatoes mashed to a pulp and often served with a dollop of butter and gravy, his mouth began to water. He may have even served this as a side dish to the meal he was preparing that evening. Oh joy!