I feel I ought to explain — to define my terms, or at least try to. First, what do I mean by a “real person”?
I mean me, of course, good ol’ Jim Anderson — as ordinary a guy as you will ever meet, with an ordinary name, the son of a factory-working man and a home-making woman. A guy born in a city whose name denotes a hard, sharp, slivered rock — the ideal material for sparking fires or shaping arrow-heads.
I don’t think any of that makes me “real.” It’s more that I admit it. I’m not pretending to be a guru come down from the misty mountain top.
I own up to where I’m from, and who I am. I admit my mistakes and shortcomings. That’s being real.
When I was a kid, Flint, Michigan, was a rich city, its many factories running over-time, cars rolling off the lines day and night, keeping America on wheels.
The city isn’t rich anymore.
The Andersons never were rich. Nor poor, either, then or now. You could call us middle-class, I suppose, because my father became a manager and later on a businessman, and I obtained a veneer of education that allowed me to teach at universities for 30 years. My wife is a respected professional. But growing up, I was a working-class boy on a working-class block of a very hardcore working-class town.
We weren’t fancy eaters. We ate some whole foods — real foods — but we ate boxed, canned, packaged and processed foods as well. I grew up on dry cereal, oatmeal, white bread, tuna-fish, jam, jelly, peanut-butter, chipped beef on toast, and all manner of treats, both store-bought and home-made.
In my early years, most of our vegetables were canned. My favorites were string beans and spinach. Later on, we had more fresh fruits and vegetables. We always had lots of meat, fish, chicken, and potatoes — and ate much of it fried. My sister and I ate canned pastas and soups, hot dogs, potato chips, and wash it all down with Coca Cola, Pepsi, or plain cold water. Milk, too, of course. Whole milk at first, and then 2% milk in later years. (As an adult, I developed a tolerance, even a liking, for skimmed-milk, believing it to be healthy because of the absence of all fat. What a fool!)
In the early years, my parents drank coffee perked in a stainless steel percolator. It must have tasted awful. Mercifully, by the time I started drinking coffee, the automatic drip machine had become standard in American homes everywhere. And thus was an addiction born.
So, when I say “real food,” I’m not necessarily referring to the food I grew up eating. Yes, some of it was real — whole chickens, butter, eggs, pork chops, beef steaks, bacon, perch, smelt, tuna, green onions, cauliflower, cucumbers, radishes, sweet corn, lettuce, and potatoes (baked, fried, boiled or mashed). However, most of that real food was bought in urban supermarkets, and not likely to be “pastured” or “organic” — words you didn’t hear when I was boy (or even a young man).
And a lot of what I ate as a kid was processed food, and some of it was junk food.
I’ve done my best to eliminate the out-and-out junk food in my diet, especially the sweet and the starchy. I’ve cut down on the processed food. But I have my lapses, my questionable choices.
For instance, here was my lunch today:
That, my friends, is butter-fried Spam and a deli pickle. With yellow mustard. Was it the healthiest lunch I could’ve eaten? Almost certainly not, but it was low-carb, high-fat, and satisfying — at least satisfying to me. Pretty cheap, too, and easy to fix.
Anita thinks Spam is disgusting. But she also thinks any kind of fish or seafood is disgusting, so she may not be the best judge of disgustingness in food.
That said, I’m not eating Spam every day. Just once in a while.
As my new blog tag-line asserts, I’m a real person eating mostly real food.
I don’t pretend to be anything else.