by Pettus Read
Over the years, I have written several columns on cooking country style, as well as eating in the same method. Those simple country ponderings have also been features that evidently a lot of people relate to, because when one appears in area newspapers, my phone and mailbox get a work out.
One item of country pondering I had a lot of response from several years ago was trying to find where all the pulley bones have gone. The younger generation has missed out on that part of the fried chicken that entertained many of us at Sunday dinners and dinner-on-the-ground many years ago. In fact, if you asked today's teenagers what a pulley bone is they would probably ask, "What is a pulley bone, any way?" Another country eating tradition that has gone out of style, due to Dr. Spock and modern day child education, is having the younger generation eating at the second table rather than with the adults at the main dining table. I spent many Sunday dinners during my childhood at my grandmother's sitting on a piano stool and eating my food at a card table in the kitchen. The men folk received the first serving of food in the dining room and the children got bowls of what was left over after the adults were served.
Chicken wings, soupy beans and melted ice cream would show up on our
table at times, but to give us a special treat at her house, grandmother would hold back the macaroni and cheese for us smaller family members. She would use cheese from the creamery, and a whole lot of it, to make a dish that would keep us quiet for a good part of the meal.
The second table at family meals and church fellowships was just a way of life back when I was growing up. I can still remember wondering what it would be like to sit at the adult table with all of the other men at Christmas time or even on Sundays. I could hear them talking and laughing as they passed the plates of fried chicken that included the breast, pulley bone and other meaty parts. Every child back then had to reach the age of creditability as an adult so they too could sit at that table and see bowls of potatoes, green beans and okra before anyone could get a chance to mess up the swirls of butter on top of
However, those days seem to have come and gone. Today, adults often sit at the second table and the kids are fed first before anyone can get a chance to see those swirls of butter.
At the church fellowships, kids are first in line and often arrive at that starting point at the risk of life and limb to some of us older folks who step back to let them in. They fill their plates with the best KFC chicken, warmest rolls, unbroken chips and pistachio salad with marshmallows (I do love pistachio salad) and race each other back to the closest table to the desserts. By the time those of us with gray in our hair reach the serving table, those young whipper snappers have already left the building, headed to the playground and left most of their plate of food still intact with only the chocolate chip cookie
I do know that times do change and kids today are no longer those who should be seen rather than heard as in my day. But, I do feel they are missing out on something really important by not having the advantage of second table training.
Second table training teaches you patience. You soon learn that if you wait long enough, a good piece of fried chicken will someday come your way due to being hid under a back or some adult doesn't show up that given Sunday. That training in patience will help you in handling heavy traffic situations and how to wait on your wife while shopping at the mall.
Second table training also prepares you for life and its many shortcomings. Those bowls of melted homemade peach ice cream without the peaches will teach a child that something that sounds good is not always what it may seem.
My largest problem with doing away with the second table concept is they decided to do it after I became the adult and no longer have the sole honor of sitting at the first table as I always had hoped for in those years on the piano stool. All those years of waiting and now they change the rules.
But, that's life and I have had the melted peach ice cream training.