My mother occasionally has to go on these extended business trips overseas for weeks or months at a time. When I was in college, all my professors knew when she was gone because I would always come in to work or class starving and asking for something to eat or drink. The chair of the Communication/Journalism department at the time would come to work in the morning and see me sitting there all droopy while sipping at coffee and get this sad look on her face before telling me “I feel like I should take you grocery shopping, you poor motherless child.” I told my dad that on our way home that evening and he decided that maybe we should stop and at least buy some vegetables.
You see, my dad is strange. Like really strange. I sometimes wonder and worry about where he got his mentality about food from because Apo (my paternal grandma who lives with us) says that they had no problem with food when my dad and his siblings were growing up and she has no idea where any of his weirdness comes from. So, every time my mom would go away for an extended trip (usually with my brother since he was still little at the time) my dad would announce that we were going to “clean the fridge”. This mean eating what we had and not buying anything until it was empty. Well, in theory that sounds great. Until you realize that half of the stuff in our fridge is pickles, spices, or some sort of chili paste. After about a week of finishing up the bread, fresh produce, and dairy products, my dad would be eating plain rice and chilies and I’d be living off coffee. And THEN I found out that he and a coworker were going OUT for lunch during the day. I Skyped my mom who had a good yell at my dad and soon there were potatoes and veggies and even a loaf of bread. I brought a sandwich to school and showed all my professors that I was being properly fed and cared for before they called child services (I started college young so I was still a minor at the time).
Somewhere in one of these “dark ages” in my younger life I remember my dad trying to make “potato salad”, which he interpreted to mean a salad with potatoes in it. I wasn’t sure what to make of the concept until I tried his warm potato salad made with romaine lettuce. I’m not sure what exactly he did to make that salad taste so good but that night we each ate a mixing bowl’s worth of salad for dinner and then we had more for lunch the next day. I thought it was just because I’d had nothing but plain rice and coffee for the last 4 or 5 days but I’ve had a similar salad since then I’m glad to say that the salad really was that good. So this post’s salad is in honor of the days when my mom left me alone with my dad during my developmental years and why I learned how to cook for myself.