Friday, January 30, 2009

FEEDING THE TROOPS

Another thing we had quite often was salmon and rice. Which is simply a heated can of salmon poured over cooked rice. Delicious with home made biscuits. Tonja

This little note in the "comments" section reminded me of a story I've returned to time and time again, in one of those Good Old Days books, for the sheer simple HOME of it, and the wonderful supper created from just a few jars in the pantry and big panfuls of light, homemade biscuits.

It was the early 'teens' of the last century, just before Wartime, and the narrator was a little girl---she and her brother were playing a game on the rug beside the fire. It was already dark on a Sunday evening, and since they'd had a good Sunday dinner right after church, they expected to have the few leftovers for their supper.

Daddy appeared at the door, having walked into town to his store for a while, and with him were four young soldiers, whose train was delayed for several hours. There was nothing open in town at that time of day, and it would be many hours before they could get anywhere that they could buy a meal, so he brought them home.

Mother was dismayed, as they had eaten almost all the roast, and very little of anything else was left, especially not to stretch double with four extra hearty young appetites. She thought for a moment, summoned the two children with her to the kitchen, and got out her biscuit pans.

The picture in the book shows a turned-out pan of a dozen puffed-over-the-top golden rolls or biscuits, standing high and proud, and I could just see that lady getting out the dough-bowl and sifting and working that dough. The little brother loaded up the woodstove to get it "good and hot" and Mother put in pan after pan of the light, airy biscuits.

Then she went into the pantry, stood surveying her jars and cans of possibles, and selected the last two cans of salmon, jars of peaches and home-canned pears and preserves and honey . She made a smooth, velvety "white sauce" to which she added the gently-flaked salmon, making a luscious, savory gravy for ladling onto the biscuits.

She filled the tureen with the sauce, put the preserves and the pears and the butter into pretty glass dishes, and summoned the guests to the table. The child's memory of that wonderful thing---that evening the Mama made do with what was available and made biscuits fit for a king, of how some hungry young men going who-knows-where to serve their country sat down at their table and enjoyed that bountiful basket of wonderful biscuits with the salmon gravy and the home-canned fruits---that was a bright moment for remembering.

And I think that good home dinner of humble, warming food was more than a meal---it was a gesture of kindness, a proffering of hospitality to those who were far from home, and perhaps unlikely to see it again. I'll bet the memory of the warmth of that welcome and that simple, comforting dinner went with every one of those young men to whichever part of the globe they were sent.

And that long-ago child is gone now, but when I remember it, I smile.

1 comment:

Tonja said...

Wonderful story! You're right..it is very heartwarming! Thanks for sharing.