Cream of what?
When I was a kid, my sister and I would spend every other weekend at my dad’s house. Dad wasn’t a big cooker… ok, I never saw the man actually cook anything. He gardened – does that count? He pickled things – cucumbers, peppers… does that count? But cooking, no. His wife cooked big hearty southern meals, complete with homemade mashed potatoes doused with butter and cream at every dinner, accompanied by a huge vat of sweet tea. Her cooking helped us dislike her a little less.
The only time my dad was in charge of mealtime was breakfast, Cream of Wheat-style. I have very specific Cream of Wheat memories: it was always instant, it was always made with two packets (I’m pretty sure a serving is only one), it was served in these short, squatty oversized brown mugs with handles, it was topped with a healthy spoonful of sugar, and my sister liked hers one way (lumpy) and I liked mine another way (soupy). My dad had to ask us every weekend who liked it lumpy vs. soupy, as he could never remember. She and I would be curled up in respective recliners, still in our PJ’s, under a shawl/throw/blanket of some kind, when my dad would emerge victoriously from the kitchen holding two mugs of Cream of Wheat.
About three months ago, on a shopping spree in the local Kroger, I picked up a coupon-induced box of Cream of Wheat. I was probably 11 years old the last time I had eaten any, but I had a coupon(!) and it may have even been on sale. The box stayed in our cupboard, locked-up-tight until yesterday morning, when I cracked the sucker open in search of bland breakfast options. Three months of alternative preferred breakfasts had gone by – eggs & toast, waffles, pancakes, cereal, more cereal, oatmeal, Pop Tarts, yet the Cream of Wheat’s only use was to make the oatmeal box seem a little less lonely. Tuesday, after Monday’s oatmeal option, brought a less puke-like-looking alternative to the bland and stomach settling. With iron and calcium to boot! I poured the single packet (what restraint!) into a bowl, and added water until it was in between lumpy/soupy (who knew a girl could change?), stirred it around, and topped it with a modest sprinkle of sugar.
One bite later brought breakfast relief I could only have imagined. It was kind of salty, kind of sweet, not too firm, not too mushy, and one packet yielded one very reasonably sized bowl of food. I had some again this morning, though with less pomp and circumstance. I got all but the last bit swallowed, but it was still 150% better than any other breakfast alternative I’ve tried lately. Go team Cream of Wheat.