Like many children of the fifties, I grew up in the household of “waste not, want not.” This particularly applied to food. We were reminded often about starving children in Europe. My suggestion to send them the meals we didn’t like earned me a trip to my room.
Much of the time I happily complied though. My Mom was a good cook, nothing fancy mind you, but savoury basic fare like salads, chicken, spaghetti and homemade soups. Once in a while she would present her version of liver and onions. After the war, somewhere between her native Scotland and new home in Canada, Mom got the idea that her liver dinners had to be well done, very well done. The result was a piece of meat from which I could sew my Barbie a pair of riding boots.
I realize now that my mother was concerned about our iron intake, the word all around was that iron would make children strong and healthy. Liver was considered to be the best source of iron. As a result, the dreaded organ meat made a regular appearance on my dinner plate. There was nothing I liked about it, so I took a lot of time to eat the potatoes and onions, then dawdled over the brown bits of meat, moving them slowly around my plate, hoping they would diminish and finally disappear. When that didn’t happen, a few dropped to the floor, by accident of course. Our terrier made short work of gobbling them up. Mom caught on when Sally pawed my chair whining for more.
Something had to be done. As I came to the end of my bedtime prayers, I entreated God to provide a solution. I suggested to Him that my time would be better spent playing skips outside with neighbour friends, instead of being last at the dinner table and first to bed on liver nights.
The answer came quite unexpectantly a few weeks later. After I ate the required five dry pieces of meat, I was hit with a sudden wave of nausea. An added bonus was that the upchuck hit while my family was still eating. What turned out to be a bacterial bug was manna from heaven! After careful consideration, and two missed days of school, my mother decided that I had been through enough trauma and would be excused from eating liver in the future. She did allow that I would be able to manage it better as my taste buds matured.
In talking to others about their childhood memories, I have learned that quite a number of people have “liver stories.” You may well ask me if I cooked it for my own children. I did not on principle, but I have to admit, their father made a mean liver dish; tender pieces of meat carefully fried with bacon and sauteed onions. I never knew it could be so moist and taste so good! The kids ate what they wanted and I happily went beyond five pieces.
Please feel free to share your own liver stories!