Most Sundays after Church, before the Pandemic, we would go to Luby’s, a Texas traditional cafeteria. And almost every Sunday I would marvel at the colors and textures on Boo’s plate.
Strangely, chicken fried steak, cream gravy, fried okra, mashed potatoes, and a roll are all in the same color family…beige. Of course, okra is green, but the outside is fried and therefore a brownish beige color, too. There is no pop of color, nothing with a stalk and no variety unless macaroni and cheese or corn is swapped for the usuals. But, the colors are the same: beige, brown and blah.
I used to lament about his choices, calling him out for choosing nothing green. I’ve lectured on the health benefits of vegetables and I have prepared every root, tuber, flower, bulb, seed, leaf and stem known to man. “You need your greens!” I preach.
“Granny used to cut up my vegetables so fine she could hide them in my mashed potatoes and gravy,” he said.
Laughing, Boo said, “No, not really! Granny never made me eat vegetables. She loved me.”
Some culinary experiments go over better than others. Cauliflower rice, broccoli slaw, and butternut squash was a big thumbs down. Creamed spinach, creamed corn or green bean casserole was a thumbs up. If I ask which vegetable he wants with dinner, it’s always the same answer, “Just open a can of green beans.” At dinner, he will proudly count out 4-6 green beans and smile, “See? I like green vegetables.”
“Remember last time we went to Costco, and I insisted we get the twelve can box of green beans? I’m practically veterinarian,” he said.
“Boo, it’s vegetarian, and no you’re not,” I countered.
“Don’t be snippy,” he said and added, “I like broccoli rice casserole. It’s chocked full of broccoli and healthy stuff.”
Of course he does. BRC is chocked full of cream of mushroom soup and cheese, and not even real cheese at that… Cheese Whiz! Boo’s list of vegetables all includes words like creamed, au gratin or cheese sauce. He tries to say fried zucchini and french fries are true vegetables. He insists guacamole is a superfood and when he gets black olives on his meat-lovers pizza he is boastful for days.
“A man your age should eat vegetables without having to hide them in his mashed potatoes,” I say.
I felt him roll his eyes.
“You’re trying to kill me,” he said. “Remember the time you brought home grapefruit and tried to make me eat it at breakfast? You know it doesn’t mix with my meds.”
“That was an accident. I didn’t mean to. I just want you to eat more fruits and vegetables so you can live a long and healthy life. I love you, Boo.”
“Promise me you’ll try to eat more greens?” I asked. “You know, greens without a fried outer covering or smothered in cheese sauce?”
“OK, but you’re asking a lot,” and as he walked away I heard,
“I wish Granny was here.”