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Feb 20, 2008 09:21 AM

"gourmet" foods you liked as a kid

so what did you like growing up that probably wouldn't and didn't appeal to a typical american kid's palate? I don't want to turn this into an indictment against picky eaters or stressed parents (are there any other kind?) who rely on hot dogs, nuggets, mac and cheese, and pizza (we ate and enjoyed all those things growing up, too!) to get food into young bellies. I'm just wondering what you ate growing up that your friends thought was gross!

I loved stuffed artichokes. My friends thought they were too weird to even contemplate eating.

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  1. Oooh, good topic. I liked Indian food. My grandparents were missionaries in India, so my dad grew up there, and he was constantly looking for curries and things. My mom learned to make lots of Indian things, which my sister and I ate from a really young age. I remember when I was really small, my mom would make this potato curry and would put some of the potato dumpling things on our plates, along with some grilled chicken and macaroni and cheese. When we got to about school-age, we started eating the curry and other dishes. My friends couldn't hack it.

    6 Replies
    1. re: alysonlaurel

      My family is from East Texas and paired with my parents being adults in the 70's~ well the food wasn't that gourmet. My daddy's idea of eating good was having pinto beans made in the crock pot. My mother really rebelled against her upbringing when it came to the kitchen.. she didn't like to cook all the country food she grew up with.. she loved electric stoves, she turned her nose up at the mention of gas which is what she grew up with, she wouldn't own a iron skillet, she loved some canned vegetables and hamburger helper and hot dogs were a fixation every week on the table. She loved using Campbell's soups over food. Flounder with Cream of Mushroom, her pork chop bake included Cream of Mushroom and so did her tuna casserole which she also made with Lays potato chips. White rice with cream of chicken soup seemed to be a staple in our home too.. she told me she doesn't understand why I don't cook with those things now. LOL.. she swears I was her biggest fan when she was in the kitchen.. The do remember fondly the garden my parents planted every year in our back yard. We did have a huge surplus of green beans, tomatoes, corn and squash that I remember. My parents would say it tasted better than what you got at the store. They were right. It all tasted delicious. I really enjoyed eating salted fresh sliced tomatoes as a kid that my daddy just picked. I also liked the way my mom made zuchinni.
      We also had sweet tea every day due to our southern roots and sliced white bread on a plate with a stick of margerine by it that my daddy called Oleo.
      I do remember the one time mama ever fried chicken and she vowed to never do it again, she just couldn't understand how her mama did it once a week.. needless to say it took too long for her when she had just got off her job.. I can also remember the time she made spaghetti with white wine and pimentos..with chicken breast cooked and douced in the wine sauce... it was probably the only gourmet dish she ever made and I loved it. . ..

      So I would say I loved eating my moms chicken douced in white wine and pimentos, served over spaghetti.. That was truly good! Yummy I am hungry now. :)

      When I got old enough to cook, she handed over the spatula to me and I started to cook. From the time I was 14 till I left the house, I cooked every meal for the family. Cooking wasn't her passion. It though is mine.

      1. re: mama who loves to cook

        Smoked kippers, pickled herring in sour cream, sardines and hot peppers on black rye, smoked chubb. Everyone else was eating pb&j and bologna sandwiches. I'd whip this stuff out at lunch and the other kids would freak.

        1. re: flavrmeistr

          I was also a kippers guy. Liverwurst on pumpernickel was another lunch time favorite... all of it washed down with a can or two of V-8.

          1. re: misterkot

            I used to love Liverwurst too! I need to try it again.

              1. re: misterkot

                Smoked kippers (in lemon juice and vinegar) and liverwurst on pumpernickel were some of my favs too. I didn't even mention to friends because they were grossed out.

        2. I was introduced to interesting food at an early age and found that I really loved roasted veal marrow bones. Also, all the bagged bits & pieces that were included with whole turkeys and chickens and either roasted or simmered in broth. And, I must include fried smelts.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Gio

            i saw you said you were 'very italian' below (as am i!), and your including fried smelts definitely reminds me of childhood.

            as well as sardines! i ate those on a lot of things (and still do to this day)
            *edit: anchovies, as well*

            1. re: CPunches

              Oh absolutely sardines and anchovies. You must have had tripe in tomato sauce and eel in vinaigrette too.

              1. re: Gio

                ah yes! it was rare, but eel was something my grandmother made and never told me it was eel until i was a lot older! haha

          2. I don't remember friends saying anything was gross, but I grew up in NJ with parents of Hungarian descent. Some of our regular dishes, such as chicken paprikash with homemade galuska or authentic goulash were considered "wierd". (I was a teenagers in the 1970's) I also grew up knowing what kohlrabi is - my father grew it in the garden and we ate it as a side dish and as an addition to soups and stews.

            One of the strangest things we had is something I am not even sure how to describe. We had a big "Family Picnic" each summer - my father had 13 siblings so there were large gatherings. The "Picnic" was the only time they made this particular thing. I do not even remember what they called it - they probably used a Hungarian name. I think the English translation was either "salt pork" or "slab pork". It was basically a hunk of fat that was rendered over a grill and laid on top of some good quality rye bread. You did not actually eat the meat/fat, but just the bread covered with the drippings. Does anybody remember this?

            14 Replies
            1. re: Springhaze2

              LOL - I am Italian, but married a Hungarian woman in 1979 (divorced 20 yrs later tho) - but I digress .... the first time I was at her house, to meet her prents - we had this picnic - all the talk was about this surprise they had for me and how delicious it was . Well, pretty soon, out came the long sticks and the pork fat (bacon, they called it) slabs. They slathered it - the chunk of "bacon' was like 4" square - with paprika (naturally) and God knows what else - garlic and black pepper ,I think. then grilled it and watched the fat drip and - omg , then cut lil pieces off it and gobbled it down. Then back over the fire to cook the next layer and repeated till all was gone. I think I kept a smirk for about 3 weeks , rememebering that display. I forget what they called it and I nevr want to remember it , either.

              1. re: dibob817

                I know of this dish. My friend Kathy, whose parents immigrated to the US from Hungary, makes this dish for breakfast--a thick chewy slab of bread toasted in an iron skillet, then rubbed with a clove of garlic and spread with hot lard (she renders her own) then sprinkled with paprika. She simply calls it "lard toast"--I don't know if there's a specific hungarian name. This is usually eaten with strong hot tea with lemon, sugar, and bit of whisky or dark rum.

                1. re: antrobin

                  Your friend Kathy's lard bread is called zsiros kenyer - beloved Hungarian breakfast, especially with some white onions, a pint of beer and a shot of palinka (the local firewater). The ultra-fatty bacon is szalonna, and the ceremonial roasting of the fat is called a szalonna-sutes.

                  Interestingly enough, guanciale - which is just szalonna by another name - seems to be having a fierce comeback in the US, so don't count hog jowl out entirely.

                  1. re: plum

                    Sounds delicious to me! My mom grew up in a recent-immigrant family, with relatives hailing variously from Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Russia, and Germany. She has fond childhood memories of things like blood soup, her grandma's tiny "pinched" dumplings, and the fact that her grandmother always had some sort of goose or duck that she force-fed to make whatever people in that part of the world call foie gras. "Oh, yeah, she always had some poor unfortunate creature under her arm, tucking corn into it's gullet. THose birds LOVED her!"

                    I wish some of those folks had lived into my childhood so that I could have witnessed some of these food traditions first-hand. I think some of their tastes got filtered down through my mom to me, though, because I LOVED things like liverwurst and bone marrow as a kid, despite being a total fussbudget about vegetables and such. Some things can only be explained via genetics. ;)

                    1. re: dingey

                      Goose grease on toast, with a bit of garlic rubbed on!

              2. re: Springhaze2

                I've never met anyone outside my immediate family who has heard of kohlrabi (well, in America, anyway). I LOVED it as a child.

                1. re: marmite

                  I, too, ate kohlrabi as a child. Just peeled, sliced, and salted. I rarely see it these days.

                  1. re: marmite

                    My Russian grandfather grew kohlrabi in his garden. He'd pull it, wash it and slice it fresh for us kids. We loved it. My grandmother was Hungarian, so we also had lots of Eastern European peasant food. He and my Dad loved head cheese and pigs feet. Mom and I boycotted it but loved potato pancakes, babka, paprikas and pierogis. I suppose some of it could be considered "gourmet" now. Back then it was just for poor folks.

                    1. re: marmite

                      We lived in a small Canadian prairie town where my Chinese immigrant parents grew kohlrabi in the garden every summer. My mother would slice it up to add to stir fries (which was nice and crispy) or to her soups. I honestly thought it was another run-of-the-mill vegetable (like carrots, peas, turnips, green beans, etc.) until I started reading Chowhound!

                      What I loved to eat as a child, if I could get it, was fresh water chestnuts, peeled. Sweet and crunchy when eaten raw, but was only allowed to eat a slice or two from one water chestnut.

                      1. re: marmite

                        My Exs grandma grew this stuff in her garden in Edmonton. It was great

                        1. re: marmite

                          My favorite!! I grew up in a lily-white suburb of Cleveland, OH, eating lots of crappy canned vegetables and cheap cuts of meat, but for some reason fresh kohlrabi made it into my diet. I recall my folks had some in the garden--the smaller the better. Peeled and sliced. Mmmm!

                          In a pinch small purple-top turnips will do, but they're just not the same.

                          1. re: marmite

                            My mom grew kohlrabi in the garden, too! I think it's making a comeback. When I was part of a CSA, it was a regular visitor in our box when in-season....

                            1. re: dingey

                              Plus kohlrabi looks very cool, like spaceships!

                          2. re: Springhaze2

                            I totally remember that! My (Russian) grandfather would make it at the picnics (outside Pittburgh -- we aren't related, are we?) He would stick it on a big long-handled fork and grill it over the wood fire burning in the outdoor fireplace he had made. Maybe it was to please my Hungarian grandmother and her siblings. Come to think of it, these gatherings involved my grandmother's family and not my grandfather's . . . why was that .. murky family stuff going on . .
                            Anyway, I just made chicken paprikash for my mother! We use egg barley (tarhonya) (not sure of the spelling) -- is that what yo umean by galuska? My grandmother used to make little dumplings that she would cut off a larger piece with a knife on a board and drop into boiling salted water. Is that what they are? and how about plum dumplings. And herring with sour cream and onions? I still love it but no one in my family will eat it with me. And dobos torte, of course, on special occasions. And honey cake!

                          3. Escargot. I had it at a restaurant my parents dragged me to (OK - dragged is an overstatement). Butter, garlic, cheese preparation - what isn't to like?

                            Other than that - we were meat and potatoes family so I didn't have much exposure to other things. But I did love pepper crusted steak and always opted for the black pepper jerky. Also we grew lots of our own veggies and fruit and canned our own fruit. I became a snob about these things at a very young age - what a shock it was the first time I was babysitting and had a store-bought tomato that someone had stored in the fridge - YUK!

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: jsaimd

                              My siblings and I loved escargot as kids. We also ate cavier and frog legs. Mom used to cook them along side chicken in the oven.

                              1. re: jsaimd

                                My mother was very disappointed when she discovered how much my brother and I enjoyed escargot. She ordered it as an app. in Paris and let us taste it. Before she knew it I had eaten all the escargot and my brother ate all the bread dipping it in the butter.

                                1. re: viperlush

                                  Oh, definitely escargot. The restaurant we frequented would serve it on a bed of garlic butter-soaked mashed potatoes. Absolutely to die for.

                                  Add to my list: anchovies, spinach, and liver.

                                  1. re: Michelly

                                    That sounds incredible!!! Do you remember the name and city of the restaurant and do you know if it is still in business? Their food sensibilities sound like I would love them. Although you sent your comments about food of childhood memories in 2009 I hope that this reaches you and that you will reply...and thank you...

                              2. I don't remember getting -- or caring about -- my friends' opinions of what I ate, but I got hooked on capers and olives at a very early age. My father taught me to put capers on pizza. As for olives, I was heavily into cream cheese and olive sandwiches (green olives more than black for those), as well as olives on pizza.

                                My mother occasionally packed pickled watermelon rind in my lunch.

                                Also big into fresh apricots. Kids today eat much more fresh fruit than they did back in the 60s, but I suspect they still don't eat apricots.

                                One more: dark chocolate. I became a chocolate snob at a very early age.

                                Conversely, I did not like peanut butter and to this day have never eaten a peanut butter sandwich.

                                My 3.5 year-old daughter loves olives too, as well as artichokes and other veggies. Her twin brother, not so much.