Poor People Food
There was a time in my life when I lived to eat. Food was never in short supply in my childhood home no matter what else was absent or the flow was stymied – unconditional love and money come to mind.
For all her faults, one thing my departed birth mother made sure was in ample supply was food. It might have been humble but there was never one night that I went to bed hungry.
“Poor people food,” was her label for whatever she served.
My mother was semi-literate, able to read only basic sentences, counting every letter as she traced them with her fingers. Her mathematical skills were limited to the price of the “poor people food,” she was able to buy or get on credit from the corner shop. So her income and earning potential was low at a time when Jamaica was going through great economic challenges – one that seems to have continued 30 years later.
My Childhood Diet
I grew up on a diet rich in:
- White bread: brown bread was for the rich people living in the upper class community of Beverly Hills where my mother would often get a day’s employment as a domestic or “domestic work” as called on my island home of Jamaica.
- Green bananas: (or fig as called in St. Lucia where I lived for a couple of years in my 30’s) was a must with every meal, including breakfast. It was relatively cheap and sometimes we had a shoot or two from our tree in the backyard.
- Callaloo: a green leafy vegetable, a variant of spinach, grown in our backyard from seeds reaped from the previous crop. This was the closest I got to a salad for most of my childhood life.
- Chicken back: very few were the days that we could afford an entire chicken, so the back was our main protein.
Sardines: a great source of Omega 3 but that benefit was lost on my as I sat hidden away from my school mates eating my sardine sandwich my mother packed for my lunch. This powerful fish (in smell and health benefits) was a staple and would appear for dinner as well.
- Dumplings: Boiled or fried dumplings went with everything and for its versatility it would be rewarded a seat on our plates most days.
- Liver and kidney: from cow to chicken, these vital organs of animals were some of the best tasting proteins we had weekly. My mother would sometimes add a bit of “curry powder” or ketchup (which was a major luxury) to tantalize our taste buds in her effort to create some excitement about our weekly special.
Abundance Flows From Gratitude
For someone who was so adept at keeping all under her roof fed daily, my late mother was not a grateful woman.
That was one of the lessons in contrast that I learned when I became a mother myself. Whatever meal we were able to make, it was always done in style, the dining table was set and my daughter, my partner who shared most of my child’s growing up years with me and I held hands and said a grace of thanksgiving for the food and the family we had.
Physical hunger is not something I know, thanks to my late mother. On the other hand, spiritual hunger is one that I was very familiar with. That will be a discussion for another post. This morning, as I woke up and bit into a slice of the bread that I made last evening, plastered with butter, I silently said a prayer of thanksgiving for the food that is in my pantry and the one that feeds my soul daily. I know there is a connection.
Gratitude. That is the connection. As I watched my mother’s life progressed or deteriorated over the years, not for a lack of support, the significance of naming and thanksgiving was driven home to me.
I am no longer a traditional church-goer but I have no doubt from whence my blessings flow and that the floodgate is opened by maintaining a deep sense of gratitude.
No matter what road I have chosen, no matter how dark or troubled the path have been, hunger has never been an issue for me. There is always enough to feed me – virtually and spiritually. This morning, as I read a story about a woman in England being charged a hefty fine for stealing a Mars Bar worth pennies and how a community gathered to support her, I gave thanks for the reminder to never label my circumstances in a way that I have no wish to see manifested.
I also gave thanks today that food, shelter, clothing, transportation and most of all friends and family who support my journey and when I falter drag me up through their examples of Gratitude.
Can being grateful in all things make sure that you never go hungry – physically or spiritually? I believe so because it has been my experience. I am willing to show you how if you would like. It is not rocket science and you do not have to believe in any Deity – just yourself. It is what I call a practical spirituality.