Monday, May 19, 2014

Supper with John and Audrey

At some point during my years at St Anne's Academy, my mother opened a bakery/tea shop in downtown Duncan, BC.  The transportation logistics were  pretty bad, given my school hours, Mom's work hours and the fact that we only had one car and one driver (Dad).  So I used to go over to John and Audrey Stinneson's after school.  The school had a farm and John ran it.  The farm was right on the school property.  They were wonderful!  I loved going there.  They had got married shortly before and overcome quite a bit of family drama in order to do so, because Audrey was a lot younger than John.  They had been dating for a while and married as soon as they legally could without her parents' permission.  In those days, dating meant dating, period.  They would come over to our house because Audrey's parents would not allow her out in public with John, and my parents would provide chaperonage.  

It was pretty much bedtime when Mom and Dad picked me up, so I ate supper with John and Audrey.  Now, their main meal was at lunchtime, so their supper was just something to keep the wolf from the door (as they say) till morning.  I was introduced to some very un-English food, eating with the Stinnesons.  For a start, the first time I ever had a salad with anything other than Miracle Whip on it.  In England, we had this stuff called "salad cream," which was sort of like mayonnaise, but not really.  The closest thing my parents could find in Canada was Miracle Whip.  Audrey would serve a salad consisting of a couple of leaves of romaine lettuce with a poppy seed vinaigrette.  Tangy and exotic!  This was before 1964 and John and Audrey were catholic, so Fridays were very special.  Sometimes Audrey would serve sandwiches made from home made bread, fresh dairy butter (it was a working farm, after all) and chocolate sprinkles.  Those sandwiches were the highlight of my week.  Chocolate sprinkles!  On a sandwich!  I can think of no better way to teach a child that food can be fun!  

At our house, food was serious business.  We were poor enough that our diet had little variety by modern standards, and Mom had the idea that vegetables were to be boiled until very soft.  Everything on the plate had to be eaten, which was always a struggle for me as the odds of being served something I enjoyed eating were pretty slim.  Sweets were few and far between, and doled out in small quantities.

Audrey celebrated sweets by putting chocolate sprinkles on sandwiches!

I learned a lot from John and to climb down from a loft, how to feed a calf from a bottle, how to hold a baby--and how to enjoy food!

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