Walking through the frozen food aisle
of an empty supermarket
in the afternoon
allows my mind to wander.
Looking at the frozen dinners,
I check the sodium content
and complimentarily project my thoughts
on the people who aren’t there
to buy them:
“I wouldn’t buy this salt mine.
You shouldn’t either.”
passing the Lean Cuisine™,
I become nostalgic about the products
my father used to buy
when he didn’t feel like cooking:
A variety of the same Lean Cuisines™
that he would lay out on the kitchen island,
a microwaveable Smörgåsbord
Feeding Our Phenomenals (unsure of the specific phenom).
The thaw and eat shrimp
and microwave mac and cheese,
The boil and serve country sausage
with packaged hash browns and canned green beans.
From time to time, Dad would switch up the combinations
(Country sausage with mac and cheese,
Thaw and eat shrimp with hash browns)
but most of the heat and eat meals stayed the same.
These convenience foods
are in stark contrast
to Dad’s younger, foodie days
when the word gourmet
became a thing.
He subscribed to cooking magazines
with French clichés as titles,
neatly stacked in the spare bedroom bookshelves.
he reverted to recipe cards handed down from
Meatloaf, stuffed green peppers, the dreaded cabbage rolls.
Dad had no aversion to eating out.
He enjoyed the high falutin’ joints
(even though he pronounced foie gras foe gras instead of fwah gras)
but had more of an affinity for “restaurants”
that served steamed hamburgers
or chili dogs heaped with raw onions.
In his twilight years,
cooking became more of a chore
than a passion.
He needed a stool to cut up his go-to vegetable, broccoli.
Dad adored broccoli and cooked it three times a week.
Mom thought it was cruciferous overkill
and would tease him about it.
And, devoted husband that he was,
Dad would make amends
with a Reese’s cup for dessert.
Now, staring at the Lean Cuisines™
in the empty supermarket,
a void envelops me.
Dad and I often butted heads over cooking-
cooking steak, making gravy, boiling pasta.
Nonetheless, food bonded us.
So, attempting to fill the void,
I buy a head of broccoli.
2 thoughts on “Thinking of Dad in the Frozen Food Aisle of an Empty Supermarket”
Peak Freans do it for me, in the cookie aisle. When Dad bought his favourite cookies, we’d get a stern look if we dared to snatch one. Loved this piece.
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Thanks! Funny how childhood food evokes such strong memories. Thanks for reading!
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