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food items that were NOT in your kitchen as a kid?!?

I KNOW we NEVER had olive oil... just vegetable oil.

Pretty sure it was never mayo... M-whip.

Never had hot sauce around.

These three items come to mind as something I knew nothing about. Once I was exposed to them, hadda have 'em!

How about you?

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  1. NO olive oil, real maple syrup, Parmesan that didn't come from a green can, any cheese other than American (does that even count?) or colby, myriads of vegetables, including no fresh cauliflower (never ate it till I was in my 20s) or spinach (canned only) no filet mignon, no shellfish (still not a fan). Good heavens, could probably go on for pages and pages, now that I think about it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: pine time

      Like pine time, if I started to write a list it could go on for pages.....think back to all the foods that were not even known in the US in the 1950s, let alone readily available, and they would all be on my list.

    2. No real maple syrup or butter. I still give my mom shit about the appalling conditions we were forced to endure as children. ;)

      Then again, we also didn't have frozen dinners or Hamburger Helper - my mom cooked from scratch every night, and did a pretty good job of it.

      10 Replies
      1. re: biondanonima

        REAL maple syrup!! We always had Log Cabin. Didn't KNOW what I was missing untill well into adult hood. Ad for its price, would NEVER allow kids to pour on their own!?!

        1. re: kseiverd

          Weird - I only had real maple syrup growing up.

          We never had store bought bread. All of our bread was homemade. We never had tortillas, hot sauce, or milk from the store (only bought fresh from the cow). Never had store bought butter either. . . .or ice cream. We made our own (from the whole cow's milk.

          1. re: kseiverd

            I wish I had a no self-pouring rule for my husband, who puts real maple syrup (yes, the $17.99 a quart stuff) on his cereal every single morning!

            1. re: kseiverd

              Log Cabin! OMG, what a treat that would have been!

              My mom made her own 'syrup' from sugar, water and maple syrup extract.

              She did always buy real butter but had a reserve stash of oleo for when guests visited. Yes, she put away the real butter and put out the oleo for guests and I was coached to not talk about the real butter hidden away.

              LIke someone else said, I could make a very long list of what was never in our house. The best description was no name brands, ever. As a child of the 70s, I was taunted by the commercials on tv and was desperate for Trix, Cookie Crisp, real Kool-aid, you name it. Instead, she bought generic shredded wheat and no-name drink mix at the local Mennonite bulk food store.

              My BFFs mom, on the other hand, never saw a name brand or new product she didn't like and it was like a dream when I would stay at their house. All the Cookie Crisp we could eat!

              My mom remarried when I was in middle school and our life style completely changed, overnight the kitchen was stuffed to the point of bursting with all manner of packed and convenience food. I remember eating myself sick on swiss miss rolls, a treat I first encounter at 13 yo.

              1. re: cleobeach

                cleo, for the past several years, I've made my own syrup exactly the way your mom did. I love that stuff! There's always been a weird burning sensation in the back of my throat from bottled pancake syrups, and when I finally made my own from demerara or other raw sugars, I was so happy to have syrup that didn't burn. Believe me, you got the good stuff!

                1. re: cleobeach

                  Cleobeach--your longing for brand names is why I buy only brand-names when giving to food pantries. Figure maybe the family would like to try some instead of the cheapest possible they may usually buy. Not always better than store brand, but I know I wanted the "real" thing as a kid.

                  1. re: pine time

                    In my current life, I generally buy house brands but when it comes to the occasional treat for our son, I let him get the Oreos.

                    For valid reasons stemming from their childhood, my parents were very frugal but took it to the extreme fault. They rather buy $10 worth of past due generic junk (that was expected to be consumed) than a $3 package of a name brand desired treat. I bristle against buying in bulk to this day.

                    1. re: pine time

                      When I buy for a food pantry, I ALWAYS buy baby food and formula. Because hardly anybody else ever does. If I have extra funds leftover, I'll buy the better brands of stuff that takes as little cooking as possible - because folks who need food banks often don't have access to refrigeration or a stove. There's no law anywhere I've ever lived that says a house or apartment has to be furnished with either, and most of the cheapest rentals aren't. And then there are the folks living out of their cars ... if they're lucky ...

                      I know that's sorta off topic, but seeing your post kind of struck a note with me. I get so tired of people griping about "welfare hogs" spending their money at convenience stores on stuff in cans and stuff like beef jerky - a lot of those folks don't have much choice in the matter. Half the time a convenience store is the only thing in walking distance, and, like I said - often they have no functioning fridge or stove.

                    2. re: cleobeach

                      And now, 30+ years later, I bet you miss that Mennonite store! I finally live near (20 minute drive) to Mennonites/Amish now, and all summer long, I go to them for as much produce as I can cook in a week. They're incredible people--and so far behind the times, they're ahead of them, with their organic vegetables and fruit.

                  2. re: biondanonima

                    We made our own butter from the milk our own cows produced. As a kid I thought it was disgusting (eeewwww, so yellow!) but now realize what a treasure that was.

                    We never had any mixes, Kraft dinner, Hamburger Helper, etc. either - scratch cooked using produce from our garden, our chickens, pigs and so on. But the weird thing is she was never a good cook and even now absolutely detests cooking. She is really missing out on something wonderful!

                  3. I'm pretty sure we had no olive oil or hot sauce in the house growing up. No steak sauce either.

                    No butter except at holidays.

                    Bread meant sliced white.

                    No non-fat milk, no "diet" or sugar free products,

                    My recollection, although this could be wrong, no chicken breasts - you wanted chicken you cooked a chicken. Espec ially no skinless boneless chicken breasts.

                    Sign of the times, no pre-packaged ice-cream. You wanted ice-cream, you walked to the corner store and bought a quart fresh dipped.

                    Hardly any frozen food in fact - my recollection is that the freezer was a 'drop-down' in the center of the fridge, like 12-14" by 12-14".

                    1. Pretty much everything. My family moved from Idaho to California when I was about five. Gourmet where we came from meant sharing the latest jello salad recipe. Needless to say, I have a much more adventurous palate now.

                      1. For my first few years, sugar was still being rationed after World War 2 so there were many sweet things that were simply unavailable that we'd think were commonplace today.

                        And, it's really only since the mid 1960s when folks started to travel overseas for holidays that tastes widened. So, I'm sure if I looked in the cupboards now there would be sauces, condiments, spices, herbs that, again, are in regular use for what are now commonplace dishes but would have ben unknown to my mother.

                        1. Pork products and shellfish; totally verboten but less as a religious observance than the fact that my mom didn't grow up eating or preparing them, and so never used them. Bipolarly, however, butter was NEVER allowed in the house to avoid mixing milk and meat, which WAS totally for reasons of observance. Go figure.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: mamachef

                            We didn't have pork products either. Plenty of lamb, mutton and beef, though. And the only reason we never had butter around was because father thought margarine would be a nod towards good health.

                          2. No soda-pop except for gingerale when we were sick.

                            1. Never had miracle whip, hamburger helper, or rhubarb. I love rhubarb but never had any until I was in my 30s.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: EWSflash

                                Never any fish of any kind. Dad hated it!

                                1. re: randyjl

                                  We very rarely had fish either, as my mother (who did all the cooking) hates it. We got fish sticks from time to time, but that was it.

                                  1. re: biondanonima

                                    We ate fish often as dad was a fisherman as well as a hunter. I pretty much grew up on fish and wild game as well as our own lamb and such.

                                  2. re: randyjl

                                    Yeah, we had "midwestern" fish, which is fish that doesn't have much flavor, and NO 'fish' flavor. I didn't realize that I loved strong-flavored fish until a friend talked me into eating some kipper snacks out of a tin, thank God. It was wonderful, and opened up a whole new world to me. My dad liked all kinds of fish but mom ran the kitchen. After they divorced, dad told me he used to have fried smelt for breakfast sometimes and it reminded him of when he was a kid.

                                2. Cheese. We'd maybe have some cheddar for sandwiches and a can of parmesan but little else. I don't recall olive oil either - we had peanut, vegetable, and sesame oils. No sodas or flavored beverages of any kind, except beer and wine.

                                  OTOH, we had all manner of asian sauces and pickled things.

                                  1. Except for salt, pepper, and garlic powder, no spice or herbs of any kind.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: bobbert

                                      Are you my cousin? Mom did have a few cans of cinnamon or maybe pumpkin pie spice--relics from the 1950s, probably with the same contents from the day she purchased them.

                                      1. re: pine time

                                        My husband must have been your cousin. In his family, dill was considered an exotic spice. Pepper was from a tin that had been on the shelf for more than 10 years. I had to teach him to eat mushrooms ("what! they taste like the basement smells.").

                                        1. re: goodmom

                                          heh - my mom cleaned out her spice cabinet - which had a good assortment of names...unfortunately, all the herbs had dried to the exact same color of dead-leaf brown...and she still didn't want to toss them....No aroma - just dead leaves.

                                    2. I wasn't going to post, because I kept imagining my mom reading my post and exclaiming in hurt. She rightfully took pride in how she fed us. But then...I had to log back in to say WHOLE MILK AND CREAM. Sorry, Mom.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: Vetter

                                        The first item that comes to mind is fresh vegetables - mushrooms, avocados, etc. Mom had iceberg lettuce and tomatoes, and that was what you got in a salad, After dad had a heart attack at the tender age of 38, butter, whole milk and desserts in general were gone. We had margaine, and Miracle Whip, and I was an adult before I got to taste real butter and mayo again. We did not have shallots (only one kind of onion - round & yellow); no fresh ginger (only garlic); very few herbs, dried of course (we thought oregano was exotic). Peaches, pears and pineapple came from a can. Hey ... it was the 60s ... the selection at our local A&P was somewhat limited, and Im not quite sure mom would have known what to do with an avocado. That said, we always had a big jar of olives (still a favorite snack for my brother and I) and, oddly, marinated artichoke hearts and creamed herring (dad's snacks of choice - although not at the same time)

                                        1. re: Vetter

                                          Ha! I can say exactly the same... I didn't have a chance to taste whole milk til I was grown. Although, I just had a flashback to being about 9 or 10, and getting a little carton of milk after school was over before we were picked up (I think my friend snuck them out... I feel bad about that to this day). I think the first time I had it, she gave me low fat milk, and I thought it tasted soooo creamy. We never had anything other than skim in the house. We didn't drink it, and the only time I "drank" any, was the *little* bit at the bottom of my cereal bowl, if I put milk on my cereal at all.

                                          We also never had real butter in the house. I think the few times I asked to bake something, we had to make a special trip for butter. Otherwise, we had SmartBeat, I Can't believe It's Not... Spray Butter, and IIRC, that Parkay squeeze from the tube butter... I laugh at the notion of having no butter. Even though I'm allergic, I would never imagine my home without at least 4-5 pounds of it, for baking alone.

                                          1. re: Emme

                                            Yep, same here. Amazing how butter was so verboten in so many households back then.

                                            1. re: EWSflash

                                              We got margarine because it was so much less expensive than butter. Only time we had butter when I was a young child was when we could get it with our government surplus rations. Both my parents loved butter but we couldn't afford it.

                                              1. re: LauraGrace

                                                Grew up on oleo, but when we visited the grandparent's farm and had real and freshly churned butter, I hated it--didn't know what butter tasted like.

                                                1. re: pine time

                                                  Oh, that would make a butter believer out of just about anybody, I think, pine time.

                                                  I think there was a product war between butter and margarine at some point. Before my time the margarine producers weren't allowed to say the "b-word" in their ads, calling it instead the "high-priced spread". The butter people got the rep that it was much worse for you than margarine. My son just asked me yesterday if I LIKED margarine, and why did I keep on buying it. I explained that it was for baking because it was a lot cheaper and held its shape at higher temperatures and was not bad for things like making cookies and garlic toast, etc.,, and than asked him why the hell he kept putting it on the butter dish because we use butter in the butter dish here. I'm glad we finally got that one straightened out.

                                        2. We didn't have mayo or butter, just MW and margarine, as others have posted. No olive oil or fresh garlic or ginger.
                                          We did have lots of dried herbs and spices, as my mother was a pretty adventurous cook. Oh - no gooey white bread. We had rye or pumpernickel or Pepperidge Farm thin white, or kaiser rolls for sandwiches.

                                          1. real parmesan, EVOO, arugula, mustards other than French's, organic anything. We did have Tabasco and spices, though, and because we lived in California, we had fresh corn tortillas and good produce, including artichokes.

                                            One thing we had then (70s) that I never see now is real frozen yogurt, the kind that actually tastes sour. Loved that stuff.

                                            1. OMG! Where do I start?
                                              My dad used nothing but salt on his food- no pepper,mayo, mustard, ketchup, salad dressing, or sauce of any kind- No salad of any kind
                                              no raw veg at all- but I liked almost every cooked veg there is- from brussel sprouts and cauliflower to turnips, even though they were cooked til soft.
                                              Only rice was Minute rice, A&P margerine, white bread. Loved going to my Aunts'- Uncle Bens and real butter.The first hot sauce I ever had was "Taco Bell". I got better!!!!!!
                                              Nowadays, I love raw veg- can't think of any I don't like except radishes- but I'm gonna try cooking them. and I love to eat the heat!

                                              1. Diet anything. Skim (nonfat) milk was in the house only if someone was recovering from a stomach bug.

                                                Certain spices/ seasonings that are pantry staples for most...hot sauce, curry powder, coriander, etc.

                                                Anything microwaveable. Didn't get one in the house until 2003.

                                                1. Sounds like most of us endured the same, boring food in childhood. I think that is one of the main reasons why I have become such a foodie. The world really opened up to me when I discovered "real food". In the past three days I have made three amazing meals for dinner: Eggplant slices grilled and then stuffed with ricotta, garlic, and parm reg then rolled and baked in a homemade tomato/garlic/caper sauce with chicken meatballs; homemade ravioli stuffed with ricotta, spinach, parm reg, and then an egg yolk, served with pan-seared salmon and a lemon cream sauce; and smoked salmon/shrimp chowder with leek, parsley, thyme, dill, potato, carrot, celery, garlic, and cream. No Chef Boyardee for me! The only "exotic" thing in our house was an occasional treat of deep-fried shrimp from the frozen food section. Everything else was per the usual 60's fare: yellow mustard, Log Cabin syrup, canned veggies, canned tuna (blech!), those dried chowmein noodle thing-ies with canned glop with beansprouts, sin sabor. But my mom outdid all-you-all: She didn't know that you are supposed to drain the fat from the ground beef BEFORE adding the jar of Ragu sauce! When I was little I thought that spaghetti was supposed to be orange.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: chefmurray57

                                                    Oh- my mother used to halve eggplants, cut crisscrosses in the flesh, stuff garlic slices down the crisscrosses, drizzle on olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano (dried, of course) and bake them. I still love eggplant done that way!

                                                  2. So many come to mind... mayo, olive oil, soda, and we never had Spam. My father apparently ate LOTS of spam growing up and wouldn't have it in the house. I still don't think I've ever eaten any.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: jujuthomas

                                                      ha! i didn't learn of SPAM until i grew up. i haven't had it yet, and have no plans...

                                                      1. re: Emme

                                                        Emme, I was once like you =
                                                        I grew up in an Italian American household where anything "American" was never introduced.
                                                        Spam being of particular repugnance to my mother..
                                                        I never had it, nor wished to try it.....flashforward 45 years and I was at a Chinese hotpot meal - and one of the things on the table was Spam, so I tried it - and wow!
                                                        I LOVED it!!!
                                                        All those years I lived without it!
                                                        (Actually, that was two years ago, and I havent had it again - every time I want to buy it, I look at the fat content and put the can back....but one day I shall throw caution to the wind and have it again.)

                                                        Anyway, yeah, we never had green can cheese or Velveeta or Hamburger Helper..or other stuff like that, which to me seemed so exciting!

                                                        But we did have TV dinners!!

                                                        1. re: NellyNel

                                                          no Velveeta or Hamburger Helper, but we had green can cheese :) and Kraft Mac'n'Cheese... my mother wasn't a food nazi by any stretch. i was allowed whatever i wanted, but maybe that's in part because i wasn't really into food much anyways. we would phase through cereals... corn pops, cap'n crunch, raisin bran crunch.. never had frosted flakes or cookie crisp or cinnamon toast crunch (first tasted this and Cracklin' Oat Bran at friends' houses as a teenager, expecting to hate them but quite liking...). we had Oreos, apple chips, fruit roll ups, frozen push-ups, and the like. that said, i wasn't allowed to have dessert for breakfast... like one of my best friends who ate sara lee pound cake for breakfast. i'm not sure precisely where the line got drawn, but pound cake didn't fall on my side.

                                                    2. Like others have said, olive oil
                                                      pasta in any shapes other than spaghetti & macaroni
                                                      vinegars other than white distilled
                                                      anything Mexican (not surpising for east coast in 60s & 70s)
                                                      any lettuce or greens other than iceberg lettuce, and frozen spinach
                                                      garlic - Mom used garlic powder

                                                      9 Replies
                                                      1. re: masha

                                                        Speaking of "Mexican", did anybody else ever have those Gebhardt canned tamales that were like extruded tubes with forcemeat extruded in the middle that were wrapped in parchment and then canned in some water with red fat globs in them? I can still taste those abominations, and I actually used to like them. We did always ha ve fresh garlic, though.

                                                        1. re: EWSflash

                                                          Yes! My family loved those "exotic" tamales. Even in college, closest thing to Mexican that Mr. Pine and I could find was the not-so-local Taco Tico (no Taco Bells in the area then).

                                                            1. re: LauraGrace

                                                              Do you remember the taste of what you think of as dog food in the middle, like I do?

                                                              1. re: EWSflash

                                                                Oh absolutely. They looked and smelled like dog treats. And that texture? Revolting! Why we ate them when there were probably fifty abuelas making and selling real Tamales in my hometown, I'll never know. (Actually, my theory is that we didn't know about the real ones yet -- this was in the years before I turned ten, I reckon, so in the first few years we lived there.)

                                                            2. re: EWSflash

                                                              I'm laughing so hard I'm waking up the rest of the house!! WHERE did you people grow up where they ate these Gebhardt things you describe? I can't stop howling!!!!!!! I've got to try it! Just so I can join in the fun. I thought the Spaghetti-O's at our house were humiliating enough!!

                                                              1. re: staughton

                                                                first clue it might not have been so great: a Mexican dish with a brand name like Gebhardt.

                                                                But then I grew up thinking that La Choy was Chinese food....

                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                  LOL. I'm embarrassed to say that I actually looked forward to the ChungKing/LaChoy night when I was young. I like to think I've come a long way... but, basically, it was just the beginning of the Chowhound thing when I really consider it. Very common experience for Americans of my generation (b. 1964). We had to start somewhere!

                                                                  1. re: staughton

                                                                    God, we LOVED egg foo yung made with canned bean sprouts, and with some weirdly sweet sauce over the top of it.

                                                                    i've thought about buying some one of these days, just to see what I think of it now...but I think it's probably better if I just cherish the memory and remember it as being wonderful.

                                                          1. You know, this is making me want to ask my parents how they happened to become so adventurous. We, in small-town Colorado, had hot sauce (homemade and store-bought), a cupboard full of spices, many different kinds of rice and pasta and Asian noodles, soy sauce, dried and canned chiles, and on and on. Even my grandparents (well, my maternal grandparents -- dad's parents were of the salt, pepper, and whatever the Schwan's man brings persuasion) had a spice cabinet with probably 50 spices in it, salsa and hot sauce and chow-chow and pickles and relishes and horseradish and worcestershire and I reckon a bottle of soy sauce. My grandfather, born in Iowa in the 1920s, made a pretty mean pot of Tex-Mex chili and loved hot sauce on everything.

                                                            I definitely do have a lot of things in my fridge and cupboards that we never had growing up, but my parents' fridge probably has them now too. Coconut milk and whole spices for Indian food, e.g., and sri racha and miso paste.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: LauraGrace

                                                              I cannot speak directly to what was typical of small towns in Colo in that period but would think that the Tex-Mex influence in that area would be sufficiently strong to account for a lot of the food items that you identify. It seems to me that there was far more regionalized segmentation in that era of food choices and availability then than now. Although Tex-Mex food was nowhere to be found in my childhood in the 60s-70s in suburban Baltimore, our pantry & fridge fully represented the Eastern European Jewish heritage of my mother and of many of our community -- good quality water bagels and bakery rye bread, home-made chopped liver, kosher dill pickles bought straight from a barrel at the deli in the strip shopping mall 3 blocks from our home, and corned beef from the same deli. In the intervening years, a lot of those independent bakeries and delis in such suburbs have been pushed out of business by chain franchises and expanded offerings of major supermarkets, which purvey blander and far less tasty versions.

                                                            2. Like most people have said:
                                                              Olive Oil, butter, any cheese other that American/cheddar/colby/part skim motz, Siracha, hosin, pesto, good canned tuna, natural peanut butter, real mayo, small pints of the good ice cream (no tubs in this house!), mackeral, tuna steaks, sardines of any kind, kale, swiss chard, collard greens, beets, kolarobi, long beans, pak choi, fresh herbs, brown rice, black beans, whole crawfish, lamb, greek yougurt... pretty much anything on my weekly shopping list.

                                                              1. along with all the others, no whole grains of any sort, no butter, no skim milk, no mayonnaise, (only white grains and bread, margarine, and whole milk and miracle whip). Almost nothing that I eat now. Veggies were canned or frozen and she demolished them, I hated frozen. We never had garlic in any shape or form, mother detested garlic.

                                                                We did have worchestershire (for steaks) and ketchup. Fresh veggies were only for salad, iceburg, tomatoes, cucumbers, and onion. Salad dressing was usually only Miracle Whip glopped onto salad. Lord how I hated salad back then.

                                                                No such thing as coarse kosher salt or freshly ground pepper, coffee was always instant (Maxwell House), soup was always Campbells unless we had a ham bone, then it would be navy bean soup (served over white bread and doused w/ketchup)

                                                                We never had rice in any shape or form, spaghetti was usually Chef-boy-ar-dee boxed dinner, and ice cream was always neopolitan in a square carton which they cut into slices.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: laliz

                                                                  Luncheon meats other than Spam if you can call it that. I had to take Spam and mustard sandwiches to school or caramel spread sandwiches. Shudder. Oh, with a wagon wheel. I hated those stupid things.

                                                                  No fresh herbs or garlic. Homemade pasta would have been unheard of yet mom frequently made perogies. No "ethnic" condiments such as fish sauce or Sriracha or shrimp paste. Absolutely no "fancy" salts. They would have been unnecessary. No fresh herbs. No grocery store meat. I honestly don't think we ever bought any - we raised our own and Dad hunted.

                                                                  No bought candy. Mom made candy and fudge the odd time. Then I began to make it.

                                                                  Never any fresh lemons or limes - it was RealLemon only.

                                                                2. But think back, y'alll -- most of what's on this list wasn't even available in much of the US 20 years ago or more....The produce department had tomatoes, iceberg lettuce (romaine was a delicacy), celery, and potatoes. Fruit was apples and peaches.

                                                                  It wasn't that our moms were boring or unadventurous -- it wasn't in the stores, so they didn't know about it.

                                                                  Obviously, those born outside the US had a different experience -- but for most of us in middle-class USA, even the grocery store didn't stock the stuff that a lot of us have in our kitchens today!

                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                    Sunshine, I've been thinking the same thing reading these posts. We've dated ourselves by the things we've listed, and that's been interesting reading. I grew up in the 60s when the choices at the supermarkets in Columbus Ohio were much more limited. My husband grew up north of New York City, and though his parents weren't adventurous cooks, the foods available at the delis and luncheonettes were way beyond anything we had in Midwest suburbia.

                                                                    1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                      JM, I've also read this thread with some interest in how much changed between the 50s and 60s when so many posters were growing up and the 80s when I came of age. Even if I were to discount the items we bought at the ethnic markets (both my parents were immigrants), I still grew up near a supermarket with plenty of options for spices (if you bought McCormick), higher-end pastas and produce (though admittedly my parents were not buying arugula or the frisee I have come to love). Whilst good seasonings and fresh herbs seem to have been a rarity in the 50s, when I decided to go vegetarian in the very early 90s, I had no problem picking up soyrizo, sofrito, avocados and basic hot sauces from the supermarket for dinner. I'd be interested to hear how much has changed in these intervening 20 years since it sounds like the pace of culinary change has slowed a lot since the 1970-to-1990 epoch.

                                                                      1. re: JungMann

                                                                        JMann, I think the biggest change in the last 20 years has been a reversion back to real food, rather than relying on processed name brand stuff. Though those canned and packaged goods are still wildly popular with the average American, most anyone who enjoys the process of cooking has been brought back to the ways of our grandparents.

                                                                        I think the 'Locavore' trend is not just a fad - I do think we are trending toward wholesome. locally grown sources for our food. Beyond the hip 'organic' marketing, there's a true interest in healthy and adventurous eating in cities large and small. Restaurants have jumped on the local sustainable bandwagon, as well, and in our travels across the country, my husband and I have found our best meals have been at little local restaurants who market themselves as local/sustainable.

                                                                        Our college town of 25,000+ residents supports 2 'brick and mortar' CSA /farmers food markets, along with a Saturday morning outdoor farmer's market. That wouldn't have happened 10 years ago, let alone 20, and I'm thrilled to have access to good ingredients and being able to know the farmers who grow the food I eat.

                                                                    2. re: sunshine842

                                                                      I had the same thought. Aside from stores not carrying "exotic" items, what they did carry was much more circumscribed in terms of growing seasons and locale. When I was growing up, you never would have found strawberries or canteloupe in the stores in the winter, or oranges or grapefruit in the stores during the summer. So we ate a lot of frozen vegetables in the winter, but far fewer in the summer. Similarly, good quality flash frozen or fresh fish and seafood just was not available in locations away from the oceans or rivers where they were caught.

                                                                      1. re: masha

                                                                        Also, I remember planting an apricot pit that she'd bought at the commissary and it grew a beautiful, productive tree for several years until a storm split it down the middle- it had grown a Y configuration and nobody knew to cut one of the mainstems off. I don't know why apricots today are so damn bad when they were really good in the '60s! I live in the same place!

                                                                      2. re: sunshine842

                                                                        Oh absolutely, sunshine- my mom shopped on base at the commissary, which if memory serves was a really advanced sort of grocery store, they had some amazing things for back in the day there. My mom moved from small-town Illinois to LA when she was young and she remembered her first Caesar salad until the day she died- she was so blown away that she made better-than-average salads in the '50s and '60s, although :-) she did use the Good Seasonings shake-it-up salad dressings. Anybody remember those? You got a carafe with a sealing lid and put in your own oil & vinegar, ad the dried salad mix, shake it up, and serve, a proud, modern mother.

                                                                        1. re: EWSflash

                                                                          I still have a Good Seasonings Carafe, and I have made the dressing forever. These days I add raspberry jam for raspberry viniagrette

                                                                      3. Culinary wise, I had a weird childhood. My father went to culinary school, but ended up working as a city building inspector, because it offered good benefits. However, he also had a second job as a bartender, so he rarely cooked. When he did it was awesome, and he had me trying things like frog legs as a little kid, ditto for spicy foods, and tons of seafood (he used to take me fishing/clamming/crabbing whenever he had the chance).

                                                                        My mother was, and is, an abysmal cook. A few years ago, no joke, she messed up EasyMac.

                                                                        My grandparents lived with us and did most of the cooking. I thought I hated vegetables for years, because I was used to her canned/cooked into oblivion vegetables. Meat was also either overcooked to hell or some offal cooked to hell. I attribute my long stint of vegetarianism, after I discovered actual vegetables, to her traumatizing me against meat.

                                                                        I only cook a couple times a week now (work weird hours), but I love it, and I produce some awesome stuff. My mother fully admits I take after my father not just in looks and personality, but also cooking skills.

                                                                        1. Chocolate Chips. We never had those growing up. Now, I never not have it, even when not making Chocolate Chip cookies. It's one of those items that can go into anything. Especially straight to my mouth and still justifying it as 'baking item'.

                                                                          Another item that I never had growing up in a Malaysian household was mustards and horseradish. Also no curry paste, we only used curry powder back then.

                                                                          1. Well, I grew up in the 40s and 50s and as I recall we had all the food stuffs available at the time. She went to a local Kosher poultry store, a fish monger, local bakeries (Italian and Irish), and into Boston to shop for vegetables and meats from the Haymarket Square pushcart vendors. Back then everything was very fresh and with the markets and import stores in nearby North End she was able to buy everything she needed to cook the Italian food her mother did: fresh cheese, olive oil, macaroni, herbs and spices, etc. Plus during the Summer we had a vegetable garden so that helped enormously.

                                                                            I don't remember having soft drinks except ginger ale, no garlic powder, certainly no spam, no prepared food. Of course during the war and for a few years thereafter we were limited as to what dairy products we could get but I remember a "milk man" who delivered quarts of milk with paper lids and the cream being on the top. Not much butter during those years so my job was to knead a package of white "stuff" (lard maybe?) with the enclosed capsule of yellow "stuff" so it resembled butter... Mother's little helper as it were.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                                              the white stuff was margarine - the yellow "stuff" was to make it look like butter (as if....) -- they were still selling it that way in Canada in the mid-80s.

                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                Ah... Oleomargarine. I should have remembered, Sunshine. Thanks..

                                                                            2. No canned products, Mom didn't trust cans. My Grandmother introduced me to my first can of tuna. No tomatoes, eggplant, basil or peppers that Mom didn't grow herself. She didn't believe the grocery store carried ones with any flavor.
                                                                              No brown eggs-don't ask me to explain it...I still don't know that answer to that one.

                                                                              1. Butter. Fresh Garlic. Mayonnaise. Olive oil. Ricotta cheese (cottage cheese instead).

                                                                                1. Dried porcinis. Never had them in my house growing up.

                                                                                  1. Morels, Gorgonzola, capers/caper berries, 14 different mustards, sun-dried tomatoes, pickled green beans.


                                                                                    1. My mom has always been a pretty adventurous cook and eater. So we usually got good healthy things. Here are some the things I didn't get.

                                                                                      Processed baked goods- Everything was homemade down to the crust. I really craved lil' debbis snack cakes though.

                                                                                      Kid's snack items- While my friends ate dunkaroos, fruit roll-ups and their ilk. I had apples, raisins and nuts.

                                                                                      Cilantro- Mom hated it, so did Stepdad. I love it.

                                                                                      Tomatoes for most of the year.- We grew them and so we ate them in season. Actually now they do buy cherry and grape tomatoes.

                                                                                      Fresh herbs most of the year - Again, we grew it. All the rest of time it was dried.

                                                                                      Soda other then ginger ale. -Good going mom. I still look at families who have soda on hand all the as not quite right.

                                                                                      Spam- No canned meat other then tuna.

                                                                                      Canned potatoes- I was amazed when I discovered these in my early 20's and had a brief passionate affair.

                                                                                      Potato chips - We had Corn chips, which I didn't like.

                                                                                      But we always had fresh fruit, olives, cheddar cheese, veggies by the score, canned goods and tons of healthy food.

                                                                                      1. Fresh garlic. I was amazed when I finally saw/smelled/tasted it. It was so foreign, I actually had trouble digesting it. Don't ask.
                                                                                        Olive oil. Thank GOD my Southern parents hated Miracle Whip. That is an abomination I could not fathom having to eat every day on my sandwich at school.
                                                                                        A lot of fresh produce that just wasn't available back then.
                                                                                        Different past shapes besides regular spaghetti, elbows and shells.

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: staughton

                                                                                          There are so many things I keep in my pantry these days that we'd never even HEARD of when I was a kid, the list of things I keep that we DID have as a kid is much shorter:

                                                                                          spaghetti sauce
                                                                                          canned corn
                                                                                          canned tomatoes
                                                                                          Dried spices: sage, oregano, poultry seasoning (I actually don't know why I have that), black pepper, dill seed

                                                                                          That's about it. Everything else is a product of India, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Indonesia, Korea, or it's some "exotic" substance such as fresh ginger, daikon, tofu, tamarind, or palm sugar (etc etc etc etc)

                                                                                          1. re: KitchenBarbarian

                                                                                            Don't tell anyone, but I put poultry seasoning in my homemade breakfast sausage! Can't be bothered to use the individual spices, just that, lots of black pepper and a dash of hot paprika.

                                                                                        2. We never had fresh garlic (always garlic powder). We also never had the food standards of today (dijon, maple syrup, good quality vinegars, etc.).