Sunday, March 4, 2012

my favorite food group

I have a confession to make. I love cereal. Cereal is my favorite food group.

I love all kinds of cereal. I love sweet cereals, I love healthy cereals, I love cold cereals, I love hot cereals. I love all kinds of cereals. I always have at least four boxes in my cabinet: two "good for you" boxes and two "sweet and childish" boxes.

I love cereal right out of the box, dry and hand-to-mouth like a box of Cracker Jack. I love cereal in a bowl with milk. I love dipping a spoon of yogurt into a bowl of cereal when I have a taste for something sweet and crunchy.

I love cereal with fresh bananas or strawberries sliced into it. I love it with sugar on top. I love it with honey on top. I love it with agave nectar on top. Sometimes I sprinkle Splenda, Sweet-n-Low, or Equal on my cereal when the pantry is bare of other sweeteners.

I eat cereal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner; and I have eaten it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, on separate days and as each meal in a single day. I eat it as a mid-morning snack or a late night snack. I typically eat a bowl (or two) each night for dessert. I eat it at the dining table, on the sofa, at the kitchen counter, in bed, at my desk, and even out of a ziplock baggie like a toddler. I don’t care.

Have I made it clear? I LOVE CEREAL. It is my favorite food group.

I have two spoons that I prefer to use when I eat cereal, my "cereal spoons." One is for cold cereals and the other is preferred for hot cereals. Both spoons were my favorite gramma's ... my lovely Gramma Sam.

The cold cereal spoon is from The Hotel Stattler. It is bent and nicked from being stuck and chewed in some garbage disposal. Gramma Sam didn't use this spoon for eating; she used it as a potting spoon for her plants. I don't know its back-story or how she ended up with it, but when she passed away and I saw it, I knew I had to have it. Her hands were on it often. She loved her plants. She used this spoon. I wonder ... did she steal this spoon? I picture her and her best friend, Madge, on some trip together at the Hotel Stattler; white gloves, hats, and a nice dinner.

"Put in your pocketbook, Sammy. No one will know."
cold cereal is awesome with this spoon ...
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The hot cereal spoon is a soup spoon from my great-great-grandmother's sliver, none of which is around today save this one random spoon. It has a deep bowl and is engraved with the initials MEB, for Mary Elizabeth Barnes. This is also my favorite spoon for soup because it is the quintessential soup spoon.

Each time I use it I think of the etiquette lesson Gramma Sam taught me during one of my stays at the house on Pepper Drive in Lake Elsinore, California. The proper way to eat soup is learned by following this little poem:

Just as Ships Go Out to Sea
My Soup Spoon Goes Away From Me

This was said while spooning up the soup from the edge closet to me to the edge on the far side of the bowl.
hot cereal tastes better with this spoon ...

Let's get back to cereal, shall we? I am pretty much a cerealphile, but there are some that I don't like. I do not like Kashi. (I think half the world gasped.) I prefer some taste to my cereal, and by that, I mean a taste that isn't cardboard. I don't like cereals with excessive crap in them like chocolate bits and raspberries. Or crap like vanilla cream frosting with dried banana and kiwi slices. Fruit “mix ins” are just gross. Peaches and Cranberries! Yuck. I mean c'mon, that is just icky. Don’t get me wrong, I love crappy cereals ... the ones that five year olds beg for. I love ‘em hot and I love ‘em cold.

My favorite hot cereals are Cream of Wheat, Oatmeal, Grape Nuts, Shredded Wheat, and Wheatabix.

I love Cream of Wheat with a pat of butter, some brown sugar, and just enough milk to get the cream of wheat to float like a little boat of deliciousness. Oatmeal with cinnamon and raisins or with maple syrup. And eating one of those huge Shredded Wheat biscuits with hot milk and powdered sugar makes me feel like I am seven years old in the kitchen on Antonio Lane.

My favorite "good for you" cold cereals are: Frosted Mini Wheats; Rice Krispies; Cheerios (traditional and honey nut); Total, GrapeNuts;  Corn Flakes; Special K (traditional ... they’re crazy with the "mix ins" now); Puffed Rice and Puffed Wheat; the Chex suite (Rice, Wheat, Corn); All Bran (although it gets mushy very quickly); Raisin Bran; Honey Bunches of Oats; Just Bunches; Cracklin’ Oat Bran; Crispix (it’s crispy times two!); SmartStart (for a healthy heart); granola (yummers!); Total Raisin Bran; Kix (I tested them, my mom approved); and Wheaties.

My Uncle Scott taught me the proper way to prepare Cheerios: a bowl of Cheerios, a sliced banana, and a coating of sugar on top so it looks like it just snowed on the bowl. It is hard to tell the crunch of the cereal from the crunch of the sugar. I don't put that much sugar on now, but I do squeeze on the honey.

My favorite "bad for you" cereals -- my guilty pleasures, the boxes I can eat in one sitting -- are: the suite of Cap'N Crunch cereals (eventhough they cut the roof of my mouth); AlphaBits; Frosted Flakes; Coco Krispies; HoneyComb (it's got a big, big bite!); Golden Grahams; Apple Jacks; Froot Loops; Honey Smacks (they used to be called Sugar Smacks when I was a kid); Trix; Lucky Charms; Golden Crisp (used to be Super Sugar Crisp); and Fruity Pebbles.

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I once went to the doctor for having blood in my urine. I had an examination, did blood work, and peed in a cup. During the examination, I answered some routine questions.

"Has this been going on for awhile?"
"No. It just happened yesterday. There was a lot of it."
"Have you exerted yourself physically recently?"
"Yes. I recently moved apartments." This was when the cost of moving was buying pizzas and beers for the friends you convinced to help you lift sofas, mattresses, and boxes of books and dishes.
"Does cancer run in your family?"
"I am not sure." I said this because at the time, I wasn't, but inside I was freaking out.

He only asked that because he knows I have cancer. Fuck! I have cancer. Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. 
This was before the phrase OMG.
"Have you engaged in sexual activity recently?"
"Ummm ... well, of course. I am 22 years old."

Later that week , the test results arrived and I was convinced I had some kind of cancer and was going to die. Over the phone, the doctor said that no blood cells were in my urine and that my blood work appeared fine.

"I think you may have ruptured a blood vessel during your move, a very minor thing that clears itself up. But, I do want to know if you have changed your eating habits recently."
"My eating habits? No."
"Have you been eating foods that you don't normally eat or eating more than normal?"

I thought about it for a minute. There was something. Once the move was complete, I bought groceries. In those groceries were most of the cereals that I was never allowed as a kid (see the "bad for you" list above). The day before I called the doctor, I ate two boxes of Fruity Pebbles for dinner.
"Ah ha," said the doctor with a slight tinge of 'you stupid kid' in his voice, "It was the dye from the cereal. Just don't eat quite so much in one sitting. And try eating from all the food groups in each meal."
Well ... isn't that interesting? Just so you know, I do eat from all the food groups. I enjoy all vegetables and fruit (except mushrooms), I eat poultry and beef, I enjoy dairy (cheese is heavenly!), I love bread and pasta, and I will eat anything else except seafood (yes, all seafood...). But, c'mon, who am I kidding? Cereal is my favorite food group.


  1. Well, brought a tear to my eye for two reasons---
    the spoons and I too love cereal...

    1. thanks for the comment ... glad you enjoyed this post ... eat on !