Thursday, August 23, 2012
Marie Callender makes a damned fine microwave chicken pot pie. I endorse it readily and without reservation. If the fine folks at Marie Callender's ever want to hire me as a spokesperson, I would willingly agree. It's a great product.
Mom heated up the old, original chicken pot pies for us when we were children. Beef and turkey, too. I pretended to like the beef best; that way, my siblings insisted on having the beef ones and I was left by default with the chicken or turkey since "they [my siblings] are little."
Our oven was a nightmare of kitchenly proportions. Originally a double, side-by-side oven purchased in the 1930s, we had inherited it with the home my father bought from his mother when she married my step-grandfather and moved up north. By the time we got it, only one side worked at all, and the burner only lit on one half. The thermostat didn't function right, either, and Mom had to set the oven on "Broil" in order to get enough heat to cook anything.
I don't know what the backstory is on why Dad didn't pay to have the oven repaired. I guess I'll never know. There must be some amazing story though, because it was like that the entire time I lived at home.
Mom was an inattentive, disinterested cook at best. She'd put six frozen pot pies in the oven, on the "Broil" setting, and wander away. The instructions on the box read "Bake for 45 minutes." I am not sure whether she baked for 45 minutes, or 30, or an hour. It's hard to say.
Generally though, the finished product was blackened on one half, crispy and crunchy and full of carbon ("It's good for you") while the other half looked anemically pale. The innards were similar: Half was hot and bubbly while the other side was cold, if not still half-frozen.
My brothers and I figured out by the age of eight or so that if you turned food 180 degrees halfway through cooking time, that it baked evenly. Mom never gave it that much thought. Or else she got busy and forgot; not sure. Either way, our food was always Two-Face, like in Batman.
So today I ask myself why chicken pot pies remain comfort food to me.
I guess we just make associations between those tiny examples of affection, however small or obscure. She could have had me fix myself a peanut butter sandwich, but those few times she made an effort, however slight, to do something more. For me.
Nurturing doesn't have to be a grand gesture, nor does it even have to be noticeable to have a positive effect.
Thanks, Mom, for making me chicken pot pies. <3, Clara