I have had a lifelong obsession with the f-word.
For as long as I can remember, the f-word has been a part of my life. I’ve used it and abused it for many years now. I can actually use the f-word in a sentence and cover nearly every part of speech. Nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs — with a little creativity, you’d be amazed how easy it is to slip the f-word into a sentence. I’ve grown up using and abusing the f-word.
I suppose part of my obsession with the f-word is the way I was brought up. In my family, the f-word was practically a way of life. Both of my parents served heaping helpings of the f-word on a daily basis, steaming hot and often salty. My siblings and I were never taught to use the f-word in moderation. If anything, we were encouraged to put the f-word into our mouths whenever we got the chance.
That’s right, folks, I’m talking about … food.
Well, what did you think I was talking about?
In any event, I was blessed enough to grow up in a house obsessed with food. My guess is this has everything to do with my parents, who both were born in between the end of the Great Depression and the start of World War II. From what I’ve been able to gather, like so many others in this country growing up during this time, my parents didn’t have enough to eat as children. My mother has told me about the days when her school lunch often consisted of a package of peanut butter crackers and a carton of chocolate milk. My father was one of nine siblings. His father was a Chinese immigrant who ran a Chinese restaurant — and his family often ate what his father’s customers would not.
I’m guessing that’s why, when they grew up and had the means to do so, they made sure their own children never wanted for food or never had to know the pain of being truly hungry. My mother made it her mission to not only feed her own children, but other people’s children as well. Any of the kids in the neighborhood knew my mother never locked her door and there was always a seat at her kitchen table for anyone who wanted a meal. It become a running a joke among my friends and my siblings’ friends that, “You never go hungry at the Fong house.” When my mother broke her hip and was in the hospital a few years ago, we loaded up a half-dozen crockpots to bring her Easter dinner. That day, every patient, doctor and nurse who wanted food got a home-cooked Easter dinner.
My father was never one to express his love for his children verbally, so he did it in the only way he knew how: he cooked for us. On Sundays, it wasn’t uncommon for him to wake up at 5 a.m. to begin cooking breakfast for all of us. I can scarcely remember my late father ever telling me he was proud of me, but looking back now through the eyes of a grown adult and father, I can remember coming home from college, having won some sort of journalism scholarship — and within minutes, a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich appeared in front of me, without me asking for it.
For the Fong family, food is love.
I was reminded of that last week when our family gathered to celebrate Thanksgiving. For many, Thanksgiving is a holiday. For my family, Thanksgiving is a happening. It’s an event not to be missed. Truthfully, it’s the only holiday of the year we all seem to enjoy the most. My sister Jenny hosts the annual event, mostly because she lives relatively close and actually has a house big enough to host 40-50 people, which is what we usually average for Thanksgiving.
Clearly, there’s a lot of people that know where to go for a good meal.
Most people start arriving around noon, but dinner isn’t served until around 4 p.m. Which really isn’t a problem, since my family eats more before Thanksgiving dinner than most families eat at Thanksgiving dinner. There was a 6-foot-long counter filled with appetizers that we feasted upon well before dinner started. That, of course, was just the opening act.
As I was eating my way down the counter, I went over to my brother, who was charged with making the mashed potatoes for the actual dinner. He was mixing the potatoes in a pot that looked like the ones the Navy uses on battleships. I picked up the loaded pot to feel the weight in my hands. My brother and I both speculated its weight. Figuring there was an easy way to figure this out, I went into my sister’s bathroom and pulled out her digital scale.
The entire pot weighed 19.7 pounds.
I weighed it again at the end of the night, after everyone had finished eating. It weighed 2.3 pounds. In three hours, my family had gone through 16.4 pounds of mashed potatoes.
I’m not saying anyone should take dietary advice from my family, of course. We do tend to go overboard sometimes.
But hey, my family loves the f-word … and I make no apologies for it.
David Fong appears on Thursdays in Miami Valley Today. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong