Made In The U.S.A.

Posts Tagged ‘Squash’

The Superbowl of Squash

In Adventures on February 11, 2009 at 6:05 am

1.30.09: Superbowl Sunday means one thing to me: chili. I prefer a beanless recipe from former Republican Senator Phil Gramm. Not kidding. It’s really good, and I’ve been making it for years.

So I hit the grocery store to semi stock up during my lunch hour. I was near a Dierbergs while running some work-related errands (which involved buying Read the rest of this entry »

The Taming of the Squash

In Adventures on January 27, 2009 at 9:47 pm

“The sea’s in my veins, my tradition remains, the son of a son of a sailor.”
–Jimmy Buffet

I come from a family of sailors. Like my grandfather and great uncle long ago, my father seems to have seawater coursing through his veins. His father was a lifelong sailor, in the Navy and the merchant marine. My grandfather’s brother was a lifelong sailor in the merchant marine alone because, like me, he had flat feet that kept him out of the service. Still: they both sailed the world for most of their lives.

My father’s father and uncle, Eugene and George, shared more than the sea. They shared a house; a big beautiful house because they apparently pay well in the merchant marine and there’s nowhere to spend your dough when you’re six months at sea. While my grandfather was relatively mature, his brother, George, was a big kid. I think that’s how I got my mischievous streak. Imagine a 15-year-old with a big allowance and no wife or kids to spend it on. He had a huge in-ground swimming pool, a convertible black and white Cadillac he called “The Puddy Tat,” a pair of lava lamps, a house filled with big black velvet paintings (some nude), the first big-screen TV I ever saw, the first remote control I ever used, the first VCR I ever played a movie on, and a closet full of hundreds of recordings—first films on 8 and 16mm from his adventures at home and at sea and then every movie that ever came on TV recorded on his brand new state-of-the-art pop-top Fischer VCR. He ate pickled herring and drank rusty nails. The basement bar was fully stocked, and the only thing in it that entertained me as a kid was the hope that the rum-filled chocolates wouldn’t actually be rum-filled, and the ceramic pitcher shaped exactly like a woman’s breast. The point is, he liked to have a good time.

I tell you that story to tell you this one: the brothers, my great uncle and grandfather, had a vacation getaway at Lake of the Ozarks. Next door to the house was a little cottage: two bedrooms and a half bath. The cottage wall, however, was the greatest I’ve ever seen. Probably eight feet high and twelve feet wide, it was covered with the largest map of the world I’d  ever seen as a 10-year-old. I can’t recall a bigger one, even today. Covering this yellowed and aging old world map were dozens, probably hundreds, of red and gold stars. Those stars, simply, represented all the ports around the globe that my grandfather and great uncle had visited. Shanghai to San Francisco, Cape Horn to the Cape of Good Hope. They had been everywhere. And I had only been a few hours away, far enough to get to the lake house, to look at the map that proved they had seen it all and done it all before, as sailors.

My parents are sailors now too. As I write huddled inside against the snow, they float on a Princess Cruise ship somewhere much warmer than here. They do this several times a year. Right about now, I’d have to guess that they’re nearing the Panama canal because they’ve been gone a week. Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale, one way, via Panama and the Caribbean and probably laid prone on their backs for most of the journey. I’m guessing it’s not how my other ancestors did it; more than likely they spent most of their time in dirty engine rooms and cramped bunks. But still: the family sailing tradition continues.

I tell you that story to tell you this one: before my parents left, they suggested I water the plants and eat their food before it spoils. Upon visiting last Saturday for just that purpose, I discovered that the Acorn Squash in their vegetable drawer was beginning to get soft. I snatched it up and added it to the haul, dubious but willing to try it nonetheless.

Sunday night rolled around and I was hungry. Made my dinner and decided to add the squash to the mix. It even came with a handy sticker on the side that explained how to prepare it: poke holes in it with a sharp knife, microwave for 7 minutes, let stand for 5, cut in half, remove seeds, add butter and salt and sugar and pepper. Eat.

I did that. It was heavenly. I am now hooked on buttery sugary salty peppery acorn squashes.

I tell you that story to tell you this one: tonight at the grocery store I made a bee-line for the squash department. Acorn, spaghetti, butternut… I wasn’t going to be picky. Sure enough, they had all three varieties. All with helpful stickers that probably contained cooking instructions involving butter and sugar and pepper and salt. All definitely with stickers that read the same: Product of Mexico.

I tell you all those stories to tell you this one: I am hungry. I want squash. I can’t buy it because it’s not Made In The USA.