"Just like Mom used to make" is a rather cliché saying, typically used in advertising, that compares something with the way it used to be made years ago. The general gist is that the item is almost as good as a hand-made version. A good example is apple pie. A lot of folks today take shortcuts by buying a completed pie, buying a frozen pie that they pop in the oven, or a pre-made crust filled with a tin can of gloop they dump in and shove in the oven for an hour.

Compare that with someone who would take all those apples you collected from the neighbor's yard (with their permission, of course!), hand-peel them, core them, slice them individually, then set them aside with some sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, real butter, flour, a dash of salt, and a few more spices helping them draw out the juices in a bowl.

Next, she'd get out the flour, sugar, salt, real butter (unsalted), and water, mix them together, and roll them out with a rolling pin. Then she'd pop it in a pie plate and trim the edges, letting you munch on the strings of dough left over. Then, she'd scoop the apple filling in, then either roll out a top layer or make strips and weave them. You got to lick the spoon and bowl.

After 40-50 minutes of baking in the oven, the house smelled like apple pie, which made your stomach rumble while you did your homework.

Now, after all of that attention to detail and making sure to use the best ingredients, does that compare to that sad Sara Lee pie, filled with BHT to preserve freshness and Yellow Dye #2, not to mention the crap you can't pronounce because it'd end up invoking the Gods of Doom, who would give you cancer of the tonsils if you dared speak their chemical names?

I didn't think so either.

God I hope not…

I don’t know why but for some reason my mom preferred just about everything she cooked come out of a can. Maybe it was a just a matter of convenience. After all, she worked until five and would have to take mass transit both to and from her place of work and was probably wiped out after a long day. She knew she couldn’t depend on dear old dad to help because he was faced with the same dilemma and besides, he couldn’t boil water without burning it and didn’t even know the recipe for ice.

Maybe it was because both of them were a product of a different generation. A time when new and wondrous things were coming to market and they believed, as many did, that it would simplify their life and the idea of opening a can of asparagus, peas, corn, green beans, mushrooms or potatoes would somehow uncomplicated life and give them more time to themselves. Plop it in a pot, bring to a boil, and presto!, it was ready to go. And that was just for dinner.

When it came time for soup, it was usually of the Campbell’s variety (mmm, mmm good!) or if times were tough some powdered (just add water!) Lipton’s. In times of plenty it was a big deal to crack open a can of Progresso.

In the borgo household, there was no such thing as a salad. I attribute that to the fact that it didn't come in a can but who knows where the future lies?

As far as fruit goes, there was no crunch or burst of flavor. All I remember tasting was the syrup it was packed in. Thank you Del Monte.

Shit, on Easter it was even a canned ham instead of the Real McCoy and as far as Thanksgiving goes, the same could be said of the cranberry.

Regardless of the meal, be it lunch, dinner or a holiday meal, I’d wolf that shit down without even tasting it and be out the door as fast as I could.

Maybe it was due to the lack of fresh produce in my neighborhood. There were very few, if any vegetable stands located close to home and since we grew up without a car (didn’t need one in Brooklyn) it made little or no sense to hop on a bus and commute for an hour just for the sake of fresh produce. That’s probably changed now since the neighborhood I grew up in has by all accounts become more diverse and encompasses a wide variety of cultures rather than the Irish, Italian and Norwegian population I was used to.

It wasn’t until I moved to Ohio when I truly discovered the vast difference between fresh and canned. It was the first time I’d ever seen a true farmers' market and I took to it like a fish to water. I’d never smelled those smells or felt the joy that comes with husking corn only hours after it was picked or trimming your own green beans. It was quite the revelation.

A few years after my divorce, I landed in a place that had enough room to plant a garden of my own. Some years it works, some years it doesn’t but either way, I enjoy the effort and I think I’m a better person for it.

So mom, dad, I know it wasn’t a conscious effort on your part to try and ruin my taste buds. It was the sixties and the early seventies and that’s just what people did when they themselves were in their 50’s and 60’s and it was just a carryover from what you were accustomed to.

In a strange way, I wish they were alive today.

Even though we had our differences, I would have loved to have them over for a real home cooked meal.

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.