David Bruce: Don’t Fear the Reaper — Fathers, Food


• On Father’s Day, Danny Thomas’ young children gave him cards. Daughter Marlo gave him a funny card, which he read out loud and enjoyed. Daughter Terre then gave him a sentimental card that described him as “the best father in the world” and as “caring and loving.” Danny liked the card and read it out loud, but he asked Terre, “Do you believe all of this?” Terre answered, “Yes, Daddy.” Danny then said, “Because if you really believed what’s written in this card, you’d do the things Daddy wants you to do, wouldn’t you?” Again, Terre said, “Yes, Daddy.” Danny continued, “Like right now. Where’s your retainer?” Terre answered, “It’s upstairs, Daddy.” Danny said, “Upstairs! I didn’t spend my hard-earned money for you to put your retainer in a drawer upstairs! It belongs in your mouth! I bought it for you so you would grow up to have beautiful straight teeth, with a smile to be proud of!” Terre looked at Marlo and said, “You couldn’t have given me the other card?” Sometimes, the children of professional comedians as just as funny as the professional comedians.


• Ann Cooper gave up her 30-plus-year career as a chef to start cooking healthy meals for schoolchildren in Berkeley, California. She prepares roast chicken, not chicken nuggets, and she prepares roast potatoes, not Tater Tots. In addition to this work, she wrote a book titled Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children. All of this is an effort to reform school lunches to make them healthy. The lunches she prepares are seasonal, fresh, and mostly organic, as opposed to frozen, fried, and sugary. She says, “I want to change children’s relationship to food.” As director of nutrition services for the Berkeley Unified School District, she ensures that 95 percent of the cafeteria food is made from scratch. Previously, 95 percent of the cafeteria food was processed. Some students were resistant to eating the healthy food at first. She says, “I have received hate mail. Kids speak up if they don’t like something.” Some fifth-graders even told her, “Ms. Cooper, we hate your food. We’re going on a hunger strike.” They told her that they especially disliked her grilled-cheese sandwiches, which were made from whole-wheat bread and cheddar cheese. She invited them into the kitchen and taught them how to make bread and gave them various kinds of cheeses to taste. Eventually, their taste buds developed, and they told the next group of fifth-graders, “You are so lucky. We fixed all the food here for you.”

• When Trisha Yearwood married Garth Brooks, she began living in Oklahoma instead of Georgia — thus the title of her cookbook Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen — and only once did she feel really, really homesick. That was when she had the flu and her mother was not there to take care of her. Her mother made chicken noodle soup, froze it, and mailed it to her in a Styrofoam container packed with dry ice. Trisha says, “When I got it the next morning, I cried, ate some soup, cried, ate some more soup, and thanked God for the most awesome mom on the planet!” (Now, Oklahoma as well as Georgia feels like home to her.) By the way, Trisha’s first home-cooked meal for Garth was Fettuccine Alfredo, and it did not turn out the way it was supposed to — the sauce was way, way too thick. Trisha says that she is surprised that Garth ever allowed her to cook another meal, although being a gentleman he took a huge serving. (The meal was so rich that he almost fell asleep at the dinner table, and he says he does not remember anything from being halfway through the meal to waking up a few hours later on the couch.)

• The Methodist circuit riders worked hard, and they developed hardy appetites — especially for chicken, as everyone knew. Every time a circuit rider stayed for supper, the farmwife would kill one or two fat chickens. This joke illustrates the reputation and appetite that Methodist circuit riders had for eating chicken: One day a circuit rider was on a bridge when he dropped his false teeth, which fell into the water. A young boy who was fishing asked the circuit rider where he had eaten that day. The place was close, so the boy told the circuit rider to wait a while and then he would get his teeth for him. The boy left, then returned quickly, carrying a chicken bone with him. He tied the chicken bone to his fishing line, then he cast it into the water. A few seconds later, he drew the fishing line out of the water. At the end of the fishing line was the circuit rider’s false teeth — clamped tight on the chicken bone.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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