Our 50s ranch house in Elmhurst was state of the art, in that it had a dinnette, a space allotted for meals, which was not a kitchen and not a dining room. This illustrates how modern we were.
The best table we had there was formica-topped to look like wood on a base of wrought iron. It was surrounded by swivel chairs with green vinyl seats, which looked like leather, if you squinted.
Here, Mom served food that must be recognized for its presentation:
When she made tuna-rice-peas casserole; my two brothers, Dad and I awaited our individual crockery tureen, in which she served each. Why this lent elegance to mush, I can’t say. It was delicious.
Creamed-chip-beef-on-toast might challenge other food artists, but our plates featured four toast points, crust on, surrounding a little volcano of reddish meat in sauce. Quite pretty.
Primo, however, was GERMAN PANCAKE, a Dad favorite and something that stressed Mom because so many things had to be just right for it to turn out well, things she couldn’t precisely control like oven temp, size of eggs, placement on the rack, time we’d actually be sitting down to eat it.
When the German Pancake behaved, it poufed out of its round pan inside the oven like the aftershock of a nuclear explosion. Eggwhite and air and flour converged in a way nature never intended.
Our harvest gold oven preened. The pancake preened. The dinnette crowd went wild. Even Dad’s visage took on a voracious look, which was unusual because he was Swedish.