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Posted by on Jan 21, 2024 in Retirement Humour |

Living Retired — ‘We Are What We Ate’

Living Retired — ‘We Are What We Ate’

Living Retired — ‘We Are What We Ate’

By Gary Chalk.

Time was tight to write this week’s Living Retired column. I was in a pickle, so I decided to write an A-to-Z primer about the food we ate growing up: artichokes to zucchini with a side dish of tofu.

I recall the early days of the Canada Food Guide developed by people far smarter than myself. They divided all the food into four categories: fruits and vegetables, grain products, meat, and dairy. Then, they came up with suggested serving sizes. To make it easy to understand the four food groups were displayed in a circle. Easy peezy.

My mother’s favourite food group was canned vegetables: canned corn (creamed), canned peas (mushy), and lunch-size bags of corned beef that she boiled in water. “Mom, I promise to eat everything on my plate if you serve something appetizing like LePage’s Wood Glue.”

If my sister and I finished eating everything on our plate without barfing, we would get our way with dessert sharing a pint of vanilla and chocolate checkerboard ice cream. We would drizzle a can of Lyles Corn Syrup overtop. This food group was recommended by dentists.

When I began dating Jan, her mother would invite me to Sunday dinner: roast beef (cooked until the meat thermometer registered ‘Shoe Leather’), a green vegetable called broccoli, and something called marrow! News about fresh vegetables hadn’t spread to my parent’s house — we were still kneading our margarine by hand. “Gary, don’t let the chemical colouring get on your skin!”

A few years ago, the Canada Food Guide was updated most likely by a government-appointed expert panel with a travel budget. Faster than you could say ‘Oh Oh Oreo’ they set out to meet real Canadians in their pantries — everywhere from Salmon Arm British Columbia, Drinkwater Saskatchewan, Cheddar Ontario, Mayo Quebec, and down east in Meat Cove Nova Scotia before ending up in Garnish and then Bacon Cove in Newfoundland. After all this feed-back was digested the Canada Food Guide was updated — the most notable change was replacing the circle to that other popular Canadian shape — a pyramid. (To be fair they also commissioned another government-appointed expert panel to examine how the heck Canadians name our cities!)

Sometime, after the ‘Leave It To Beaver Era’ ended, and before the start of the ‘Kardashian Age,’ some wing nut invented chicken wings. That shows what I know because chicken wings became the greatest thing since, well, sliced bread.

In my lifetime we have lived through 1) ‘The Bonkers Fruit Chews Phase,’ 2) ‘The Fizzies Phase,’ 3) ‘The Tab Cola Phase,’ 4) ‘The Pop Tarts Phase,’ 5) ‘The Dipping Potato Chips In Onion Soup Mix Phase,’ 6) ‘The Spreading Cheez Whiz In Celery Phase,’ AND, 7) ‘The Fondue Phase’ when we branded outlines of sizzling hot fondue forks into our teak dining room tabletops.

Which brings us to 8) ‘The Melba Toast Phase.’ Jan enjoys crunching on melba toast with her salads at lunch. I go for more taste and naw on the cardboard box the melba toast comes in.

Things were going fine until Canadians jumped on 9) ‘The Poutine Phase’ gravy train, UNTIL — get ready for it! — 10) ‘The Kale Phase.’ OMG! Jan came up with kale recipes with roasted chickpeas, then wheat berry, and finally quinoa. I bailed on kale.

Now we are into 11) ‘The Tofu Phase.’

Who is for bringing back tuna noodle casserole? With a side of canned peas.


Living Retired is written by humour columnist Gary Chalk.


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