Ten On Tuesday: 10 Foods I Eat Regularly Now That Were Exotic (or unheard of) When I Was a Kid

My childhood was full of many different types of food, for which I feel very fortunate. My family is Irish on one side and Italian on the other and we lived in blue-collar towns full of Irish and Italians and Polish and Germans. Everybody learned to make everyone else’s food, so my southern grandmother with the Irish husband could make corned beef, golumpki, and Spam salad* all in the same week. As a young woman, my mother had many Latino friends, so I grew up eating Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Mexican food. Two of the meals she had in regular rotation were chicken paprikash and picadillo. When I was 10 or 11 we moved in with my step-father and he introduced me to the wonderful world of  Jewish food.

So I did have some fairly broad horizons when it came to food, but it was still the 70’s, which means as broad as my horizons were there were also an awful lot of gaps. That means it took only a bit of thought to come up with this week’s Ten On Tuesday.


10 Foods I Eat Regularly Now That Were Exotic (or unheard of) When I Was a Kid

  1. Sushi – I started eating sushi as a teen, but as a younger kid I not only hadn’t ever heard of it, but the idea of eating raw fish… I would have firmly placed it with fried worms as far as likelihood of it ever passing my lips.
  2. Thai food – Along with Ethiopian and Indian food, file Thai food under things I couldn’t even conceive of as a kid.
  3. Ethiopian food – Not something I’d say I eat regularly, but it’s a favorite.
  4. Brown rice – As a kid, rice was Uncle Ben’s, out of a box. Nothing existed except white rice.
  5. Bread other than Wonder – Bread came only in a plastic bag with colorful dots and its best quality was that you could squish a whole slice into a ball the size of a pea.
  6. Indian food – Another type of food I don’t eat regularly because Scott doesn’t like it, but I sure do love Indian.
  7. Craft beer – Not that I was drinking beer as a kid, but if I had been there was certainly no such thing as craft beer. Beer was Budweiser, Schlitz, and Shaefer.
  8. Real BBQ – Although my maternal grandmother was from the south, real BBQ wasn’t something we ate. Ever. Until I was an adult “bbq” meant grilling to me.
  9. Baja-style Mexican food – The Mexican food of my youth was heavy and full of sauces with little vegetable content. “Fresh Mex” was unheard of in New Jersey.
  10. Organic milk – Or organic anything, for that matter.

*Yes, Spam salad. It’s a monstrosity of a “salad” made with cubes of Spam and cheddar cheese, chickpeas, canned corn, and mayonnaise. It’s a true horror, but I still love it and writing about it makes me want to make some.


4 Responses

  1. Interesting list! I’m glad to see your family also had some sort of “salad” monstrosity. We had Watergate salad (pistachio pudding mix, Cool Whip, marshmallows, and pineapple) and Snickers salad (chopped Snickers, Cool Whip, cream cheese, and apples). Like you said, Spam salad may be a horror, but I think I also want to try it!

  2. We consider fried Spam to be a breakfast treat around here. Otherwise, no. But I ate plenty of it as a kid. And squishing Wonder Bread was a childhood tradition, wasn’t it?