Tag Archives: Eating

Advice on Oranges

I was never a big fan of oranges growing up. I liked orange juice. I liked orange jello. I liked orange soda. I also truly enjoyed putting quarter slices of oranges my mom put in our sack lunches into my mouth and acting like an ape. That was fun.

The idea of eating an orange did appeal to me, though. I just never could get past the white pith inside the peel and how dang hard it was to peel an orange. Seeds, although a pain, were tolerable since they could be spat out either as projectile weapons against siblings/friends or, like the watermelon seed of summer, expelled for distance.

As an adult, I’ve turned my childhood dislike of oranges into them becoming a seasonal staple of my diet. What changed? First, the emergence of the navel orange gave the consumer a seedless, yet, delicious citrus product. Sure, one lost the necessary basic component of seed-spitting but gained threefold in pure edible joy.

The second, and most monumental, change occurred early in my teen years when dad taught me an orange peeling trick. It was brilliant. It was effective. It transformed me into an orange-loving citrus-phile. This food hack my dad showed me was to gently roll the orange around on a hard, flat surface with slight pressure. When performed properly, the white pith loosens from the fruit and makes peeling the orange a breeze. Over the years, I’ve found the technique also works by rolling the orange between your palms. It’s magic. 

My dad was by no means handy or comfortable in the kitchen. He could hardly make himself a sandwich. When my youngest brother was born and mom had to stay a few nights in the hospital, I’ll never forget the meal dad made for the rest of us five kids that first night before grandma showed up to help. He browned a couple of pounds of hamburger. He put a piece of white bread on each of our plates. He scooped a serving spoon of hamburger on each piece of bread. To top off the delicacy, each plate got a healthy shot of ketchup over the mound of hamburger. We each put our heads down, side-eyed each other, said a prayer that mom would be home soon, and quietly and quickly ate.

Thanks to my dad, I have become a joyful eater of oranges. The fruit is one of the bright spots of winter for me and has been since learning the peeling trick. Dad simply taking five minutes one dark winter night after a long work day to show his kid a better way to peel an orange made a lifelong impact on me, my kids, and my grandkids. It’s one of the many pieces of him I carry with me to this day.

A small and seemingly insignificant piece of advice went a long way to enrich my life. 

Think about that little nugget for a minute.

Small kindnesses can make huge impacts on people’s lives. 

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The Conquest of Food

It is Memorial Day Eve, around 10 PM.  I cut up a watermelon earlier and just had a bowl.  It was good.  So good, in fact, that I was hell bent on eating the whole melon tonight.  But, the dogs saved me by needing to go out.  While I was outside I reminded myself, “Man, you are almost 47!  You can’t eat a whole watermelon at 10 PM, you idiot!”  Of course, I didn’t eat the rest of the watermelon.  But, let me tell you, there was a time…

I know this will surprise no one who has ever seen me, but I used to be able to throw down some food.  Biblical proportions.  Some of my buddies and me were know to make buffet line proprietors cringe at the sight of us.  If there was an All-You-Can-Eat, we Ate-All-We-Could and then some.  I know some can relate to the late night mega-bag of Tostitos Nachos Cheese Rounds and a 2 liter of pop or a frozen pizza sandwich (two frozen pizzas cooked and stacked) on the way home from the bars.  But tonight,  three eating feats from my youth seeped from the memory banks after I made the decision NOT to eat an entire watermelon.

1. Watermelon Eating Champion

I was lucky enough to have three great men as grandpa figures in my life, Thomas Hays, Clarence Bosley and Boz’s best friend,  “Uncle” Charlie Lewis.  At family gatherings around dusk, Grandpa Bosley and Uncle Charlie would break out the monster watermelon for us tribe of kids for a watermelon eating contest.  Of course, we kids would gather around the two, while they held butcher knives in one hand and a beer in the other as they told story upon story.  Finally, they would cut the watermelon in slices, then cut each slice in half.  The kids would all line up for a piece, then the eating would begin.  I loved those two old guys to no end and would have run through a brick wall to please them.  Eating watermelon as fast and as furious as I could was easy.   More often than not, I won these contests on both speed and sheer amount of watermelon put away.  My trick was to eat the whole thing, seeds and all, right down to the rind.  No time wasted spitting out seeds. Clean as a whistle.  It was the perfect plan.  I can still see the smiles on Grandpa and Charlie’s faces watching us kids eating watermelon like fiends.

2.  Lettuce Pray

We used to all pitch in after dinner and do the dishes.  Put stuff away, scrape, rinse and load the dishwasher.  Normal stuff.  One night, when I was in high school, I had a clean-up challenge from my older sister.  We had lettuce salad for dinner A LOT back then.  This wasn’t modern day mixed greens in a bag salad, either.  This was old school chopped head of lettuce, roughage lettuce, not health food type of lettuce.  Lettuce, of which there was only one kind sold in the early 1980’s  at the grocery store lettuce.  As I said, we had it A LOT, so there was not very much eaten at this particular meal.  Sister and I are doing the dishes.  She picks up the almost completely full lettuce bowl and  starts to put it away.  She gets that evil older sister look on her face, then challenges me to eat the whole bowl at once.  Meaning, I have to stick the whole bowl of chopped lettuce in my mouth.  Long story short, despite breaking several laws of physics, the feat was accomplished with just a slight ass chewing from parents.  Well worth it.

3. 23 Tacos

That number pretty much says it right there, 23.  My oldest brother likes to add a few details when he recounts the events, these were old fashioned fry your own tortilla shells in hot oil tacos and Mom had to stand there and cook tacos shell after taco shell.  I might also add for the peanut gallery I was not the only one at the dinner table, but Dad and four siblings also ate that fateful Saturday night, so Mom did a heck of a lot of cooking that night above and beyond the 23 I ate.  Looking back, I don’t remember even feeling bad.  In fact, I probably went out that night with my buddies not long after cleaning up dinner.

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