Friday, April 3, 2009

My Gran's Southern Hash

The term, "hard times" has been tossed around lately, and I don't think that everyone knows what it means exactly. I'm not talking about politics or the market, though. While those are important for the "why", I'm talking about the "how." How did it affect the everyday family?

Just what did it mean to the everyday family?

I can still remember interviewing my Gran (my grandmother on my mom's side) for my family tree project my senior year in high school. I remember asking her, "how was life 'way back then'?" [My interviewing prowess showing even then! lol] While my technique obviously needed work, I think, in this case, it may have have been the right approach. Her answer was so clear and simple, but powerful. She replied," Dear," [my Gran always started a story with "Dear,..."] "during the war, we would wait in line on 'meat' day with our ration books." [Huh?]

Since we were sitting at the dinner table with full tummies and my mom in the kitchen doing the dishes, her reply caught me offguard. As a friend of mine likes to say, "I just don't have a slot for that." I couldn't compute that statement.

She went on to explain about rationing books and not having enough meat to go around during World War II. They were allowed only so much meat [and other goods] per week per person. Could you imagine - in this day and age in America - standing in line with your neighbors every week with your ration coupon books clutched in your hands in order to receive your ration of food items for the week for your family? [And to think I complain about having to go to the store...]

I also now understand my Gran's recipe for Southern hash. You see, my husband & I disagree on what hash really is. He was born in Iowa, but got to Texas as fast as he could, and I am a Texan, born and raised. [Hey, y'all!] Whenever my Gran would visit, she'd make hash at the end of the week, which consisted of all [and I do mean all] the leftovers in the fridge and homemade biscuits. And everytime I make it for my family, my husband always says that it isn't really hash, but a stew concoction of sorts. He says that real hash is made with corned beef and potatoes and served for breakfast. [Well, my Gran's Gran was 100% Irish, and I know what corned beef is. It's what you eat with cabbage on St. Patty's Day] To be fair, though, I have had corned beef hash, and it makes a wonderful breakfast. O.K., so there's 2 types of hash: Southern and not-Southern [but my Gran's hash is the real one - at least for me...]

While I make Gran's Southern Hash for my family [and "stew" for my husband] out of nostalgia and comfort [and yes, sometimes out of laziness - I really hate going to the store], my Gran made it out of necessity in order to feed the mouths of 8 growing children. My Gran's story about "hard times" during World War II is similar to a lot of other people's stories who went through it.

They scraped.

They saved.

They made "do" with what they had.

They hunkered down. [Texas-speak]

They worked long and hard to put food on the table for their families.

That's their family story.

It's my Gran's family story.

And it's my family story, too...


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your story! I recently posted on war ration books & stamps but to date haven't had any one [else] be able to tell me just exactly how they were used...

    I like the stories...Holly


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