Farina, farina

I adore farina. I usually buy the Cream of Wheat version, although I bet I could find it in bulk if I asked at the local organic foods store. Farina was especially good to me during my recent flare; it was one of the few things I could actually summon interest in eating, and it had enough nutrients (CoW is pretty heavily fortified with iron and other shit) to keep me from collapsing for a while.

When I was little, my siblings and I used to visit our grandmother on a regular basis. She and my grandfather lived about two miles away on property adjoining ours, so we could ride bikes, or take the bus there from school, or walk on a gravel road, or if we were really feeling adventurous, we’d go through the woods. In that case, we’d have to brave the rustling sticks (i.e. bears, wolves, and monsters), the Sarlaac pit (so named by my brother, a deep, winding crevice under a bridge where my folks used to dump meat scraps and hunting-season deer guts; it was always a fun place to visit for the dogs in our family), a couple of tall hills, and a path that petered out in places, depending on how well my father and grandfather kept it mowed and cleared.

Going to our grandparents’ was always fun. There was an abundance of magazines to read (Redbook, Ladies’ Home Journal, and my favorite, Reader’s Digest. To my family: I feel bad for all the Life in These United States quotes now; sorry about those), there were tons of toys, books, and boxes of random interesting stuff in the upstairs bedrooms, and our grandparents were lots of fun. And the food was fun and funny, too. Grandma kept an always-full tin of peppermints and spearmints in the kitchen. While I think these were available so she could kick her smoking habit, we certainly got the benefit of it. (I shudder to think at how many mints we consumed, and how the family dentist or any one I’ve had since could be at all optimistic about the state of my teeth.) If we went to their house after school, we’d get a specific choice of treats: cheese and crackers, saltines in a tin and the cheese carved in paper thin slices from a block of Colby or Cheddar; or we could have a Quik float with chocolate-vanilla ice cream from a half gallon bucket. And if we were there alone? Sometimes we got both.*

Anyway – there might be a point to this post, and there might not – one weekend morning I was visiting by myself (or maybe my sister was there, too? Can’t remember) and I remember asking Grandma to make me porridge. This was because she’d made the mistake of reading Goldilocks and the Three Bears to me on a previous visit. After some leading questions (“Hey Grandma…do you know how to make porridge?”) and a lot of prolonged nagging, she finally made me porridge. It was smooth and pale-colored with lots of sugar and milk, and it tasted very good.

However, now that I am a grown up lady and I made my own breakfasts (it only took twenty-five years, but here I am) I suspect that what I thought was porridge? Was really Cream of Wheat. Way to go, Grandma. I miss you.

*Yeah, that’s right, I’ve always been a little pig.


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