Jack’s Mid-Missouri Memories: Tummy Ache Food
Well, the growing season is finished for another year, and that means a lot of my favorite foods will not be available for another year. When I see the tomato vines begin to shrivel and die and the apple trees quit baring the apples I crave, it takes me back to my days as a boy with a cast iron stomach who would eat anything as long as it was green.
I probably heard the phrase, “Jack, that will make you sick,” when I was a boy more than most kids. That is because I would eat just about anything green or just plain sour. I loved green grapes and green apples with salt, and as a matter of fact, I still do. I also like to peel a lemon and eat it with salt, something that used to drive my mother up the wall, and has the same effect on my wife now. Rhubarb and gooseberries dipped in salt are also something I love. If that makes you wonder how I have lived as long as I have, you are not alone.
I wasn’t the only one who loved those things in my neighborhood either. The McCoy boys and I traveled with a salt shaker quite a bit of the time. I can also remember in the summertime back then breaking off part of a farmer’s salt lick to use on green apples or even some baby field corn if that was all we could find during one of our frequent trips to the country.
My friends and I walked everywhere as kids. The only time we took our bikes was when we were going to the creeks that were on roads. Most of the time, however, we would strike out across the open fields on foot. Today there are houses in the vacant fields where we walked, but back then, a boy could walk for miles without running into a house, or a farmer, who would run them off of his land. Back then, my friends and I knew where to find those green apples and green grapes as we walked through the country. We also knew where the plum trees hung full and the blackberries and gooseberries could be found. I doubt that any of those trees and bushes are still there today, but then there are probably no barefoot boys walking through the country to appreciate them either.
I guess I have not grown out of some of those childhood habits yet, because this year I found myself picking green grapes off my vines again, with a salt shaker in my hand, of course. I still prefer a green apple to a ripe one, and when my wife makes a gooseberry pie, she knows to get the berries cooked up before I find them. It’s funny, but the green apples I buy at the store now, just don’t seem to have the same taste that I remember from my youth, as my friends and I sat under an apple tree in the country, passing that salt shaker back and forth. I also don’t recall any of those tummy aches, but then again, my memory might be selective.