Carter Is My Hero!

So, Freya mentioned to me earlier in the week that the Kitchen Wench is hosting a food nostalgia event. She said this sort of thing is right up my alley and to start thinking of childhood foods to cook and write about. Every evening after work I have asked if I should make the nostalgic meal and every evening I have been told I couldn’t because there was something else on the agenda. Well, you can imagine my frustration when this morning Freya said, “The post about food nostalgia has to be submitted today to be eligible.”
Fortunately I’ve had the menu planned for a while. The food was easy and quick to prepare and it satisfied the requirement for nostalgia. Just thinking about the menu reminded me of the days when kids flew box kites and a crazy new horseless carriage was all the rage. That’s right, it reminded me of watching the Waltons in the 1970’s.
There was so much more to the 70’s than anachronistic melodrama though. One mustn’t forget the significance of lick and stick tattoos in boxes of Cracker Jack, putting playing cards in bike spokes to make a motorcycle sound, really big GI Joe guys, Star Wars (obviously), and that beautiful man, President Jimmy Carter.
For me a big part of the 1970’s was directed by my interest in street gangs. This was before the days of the Disciples, Bloods, and Crips. Back then children like me formed opinions about gangs from TV shows like Happy Days, films like The Warriors, books like Run Baby Run by Nicky Cruz, or, in my case, West Side Story.
The West Side Story soundtrack was my favourite album in my dads record collection (My second favourite was a collection of Henry Mancini works, but that doesn’t relate to this post.) and I listened to it constantly! I read the gatefold sleeve over and over, studying every picture. I memorised all the lyrics. I knew I wanted to be in a gang. I didn’t think there was any stigma attached to this sort of ambition. After all, who could object to a group of guys singing and dancing?
Every May during the last half of that decade, I would hold a recruitment drive. There was very little in the way of requirements. A kid only had to live in my neighbourhood, have a cool bike, and memorise the Jets theme song. It didn’t matter that I never had a gang called “The Jets” because the disparity was somewhat irrelevant to a seven year old. My gang was called The Bobcat Brothers! The name was chosen after very publicly dropping out of Cub Scouts due to my acute awareness of that organisations social inequities (yep, I’ve always been wracked with political ire). I was left only with my Bobcat rank patch. This became the symbol of my new posse.I wish there were still kids like that around today. We must have been really funny to watch because anybody who thinks they’re cool generally comes off as comical, and man, did I think I was cool. The gang all wore 50’s style white T-shirts with candy cigarette packs rolled up in the sleeves, riding our Schwinns ¾ of a mile from home just so we could meet up behind the bobcat cage at the Myrick Park Zoo. I would find old bottles around the house, the kind that looked more like something from the 1850’s than the 1950’s and fill them with instant Liptons iced tea because I thought it looked like foamy beer. Paradoxically, when the Bobcat Brothers found a whole unopened can of beer outside a grocery store, we only thought to ride over it on our bikes until it blew up.
And that is how the summers passed by. Every day we’d imagine Officer Krupke was chasing us and every evening we would return to our homes and have our dinner before going out again to spend the remaining daylight hours staring through a chain-link fence at the high school kids wishing we were older so they would let us play baseball with them.
For some reason, I remember having every summertime evening meal outside at the picnic table. The food was by no means standard barbeque or picnic fare though. This was probably the result of my parents habit of reserving a room upstairs for international lodgers (a tradition that continues to this day (Hello Fernando!)).
If you’ve read the comments on Freyas Sologa post, you’ll recall mention of one family favourite passed down by Hashem, an Iranian lodger. This was just boiled rice with a raw egg yolk on top and as a kid I absolutely loved it! At these meals we tried every kind of hamburger going, but my personal favourite has always been my moms teriyaki burgers. Salty, sweet, and spicy all at the same time, these burgers are still a hit when I make them for people. A previous post also briefly, ahem, mentions an abundance of green beans in my childhood. I discovered quite accidentally that green beans and ketchup go great together and still remain a gastronomically guilty pleasure for me.
It’s been a long time coming, but what follows is my menu for an instantly nostalgic meal.

  • The beans are self explanatory. Cook them al dente and serve with Heinz ketchup.
  • The rice is simple. One cup basmati rice boiled in two cups water with a knob of butter and a teaspoon of seasalt. Serve one portion with one organic egg yolk.
  • The burgers are a bit more involved. This is my version of my moms recipe:
500g/1Lb. Ground beef mince
2 Tablespoons sugar
5 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Small onion coarsely chopped
1/4 Teaspoon ground mace

Mix all ingredients together and fry in a pan or, preferably, cook on a grill. Serve naked (The burger that is!).


Helene said...

You are such a made me hungry again!
I have seen the movie a fe many times with my mom, nostalgia indeed.b

Ellie said...

This is a great post! Thank you for sharing these wonderful memories of your childhood for the Nostalgia event :)

Oh, and PLEASE tell me you kept the bobcat patch, that would be fantastic :D

mark said...

I actually had several run-ins with "The Bobcat Gang". Never did they draw blood but using muscle they made it quite clear that their sizeable stash of lolipops was off-limits to anyone who was not a sworn-in due-paying member.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

You have really captured in words that little boys thoughts and feelings. The innocence and longing of childhood.
Oh those kids still exist, but that time in our lives we hide much from the adults around us. It's part of being cool. Beautiful memories!

Freya and Paul said...

If you think back, I don't think it was lollypops. Remember in the fort I built in the attic I had a stash of beef jerky and really cheap generic pop. Mostly red cream soda.

Lis said...

Although I can't say I've ever seen West Side Story (I know! Where the hell have I been??) I HAVE seen the Warriors.. just last week, in fact. I rented it for the first time since my teenage years - but probably the 8 billionth time I've seen it. It was just as good last week as it was 20 years ago! hehe

Great post.. you brought back lots of memories, thanks! =)

Lydia said...

Hmmmm. The Jets were the "good" guys, but the Sharks (the "bad" guys) were the ones we all wanted to hang out with when I was growing up. My parents took us to see West Side Story when it first opened on Broadway, which tells you that I am old indeed. Thanks for a wonderful nostalgic post.

Kelly-Jane said...

What a great post :)

It really links us into part of you as a youngster, and kids can teach us all so much!

I like that you still make your Mum's burgers too. Sometimes what we like as children gets a bit lost, and doesn't taste as good then we try them as an adult, but when it does it's a real joy.


Linda said...

yum - i love egg yoke in rice. i had bibim bop for dinner last night. delicious!

Brilynn said...

Ha! Great story!

Joyce said...

The commentary was nostalgic in that while you were playing 1950's in the 70's, I was one of those 1950's teens thinking she was the cat's meow. Tell me, is that yolk raw?

Katie said...

So, Paul, did you have any of the generic red pop, called, so enticingly "Red Pop"?
I did not know your gang. My hometown was so small that we only had one - and we had to include all ages at that!

Chris said...

Those burgers look so great! I am hungry now! Thanks....hee hee

Monkey Wrangler said...

Awesome! What can I substitute for the beans and still have this? Kidding! Great post and trip down memory lane.

Kathryn said...

Yay! Great post. I love the whole gang story. In fact, your childhood is endlessly interesting - I wonder if the fact that you now live in another continent gives more resonance to your nostalgia and memories?

The burger looks really good. Is that egg yolk raw though? I don't think I'd be brave enough to try that...

Freya and Paul said...

I normally respond to every comment individually and I will continue this in the future, but I am currently preparing my 200 page court bundle and Allocation Questionnaire which is very time consuming. Everything is looking very good though and everything should be resolved within 40 days.

I am going to take this opportunity to mention our widgets. As far as I know, I was the first to devise the idea of stacking them like books between bookends. I'm happy to see that some others have followed my lead because it is a very cute idea if I say so myself. Just remember who thought of it first. Me, baby! Me!

In answer to the question that everybody seems to be asking, yes, it is raw egg yolk. But once you stir it into the hot rice it produces a thin lightly cooked yolk coating on the rice.

I don't have my patch anymore, but they are still readily available. If anybody is interested in reforming the gang, I'm up for it.

Linda, I've never had bibim bop, but after looking it up on line, I have decided to remedy that quickly...and how!

Katie, I remember Red Pop fondly. I think it's still available in limited quantities and I might try to import two cans. One for me and one for you.

So, that's all for now. Everything will be back to normal soon, I promise. Thank you all for the nice comments.