Is it noshworthy?

Clarence Clay Reeves – The Centennial

December 6th, 2009

If there is one piece of advice that every “How to write a popular blog” article hammers home, its “Keep it relevant”. Don’t talk about politics on a movie blog, or food on a movie blog.

So forgive me a small indulgence, as I dedicate this post to my dad, Clarence Reeves, on this, the 100th anniversary of his birth.

My parents were about as different as two people could possibly be. My mother was a New York debutante, my father was from the coal mines of West Virginia. And as only can happy during a war, these two met in Japan during the U.S. occupation in the late 1940’s.

I have to admit, I get most of my foodie tendencies from my mom, but since I’m memorializing my father today, let me tell you about my father and food.

My father was a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy, who taught me the value of simple, satisfying, and delicious food.

Although some today may find the idea horrific, my dad was from a generation that always had a can of bacon grease on the kitchen counter. For breakfast, you lit up the cast-iron skillet, scooped up a heavy tablespoon of bacon grease, and fried up your bacon and eggs. When you were done you poured the hot grease back into the can, wiped down the skillet with a towel, and it was perfectly seasoned for its next use.

I remember as a kid that I wanted to do something special for my dad. We had a tradition that if you cooked, someone else did the dishes. (There’s a reason I learned to cook!). So I took it upon myself to wash my father’s cast-iron skillet.

And I mean I washed it. Soapy hot water and a severe scrubbing with an SOS steel wool pad. There wasn’t an ounce of dirt or grease on that pan afterwards.

And you should have seen the look on his face.

Showing a disturbing, almost Zen-like calm, my father took the skillet, fed it some bacon grease, and proceeded to explain the value of a seasoned pan. It would be months before fried food would come close to being as tasty as it was before.

On those rare occasions that my dad did want to eat out, my parents liked a very specific kind of place. A place with dark wood, high backed leather booths, perhaps with borderline-risqué oil paintings on the wall. One was a family style Italian place called Caesar’s.

As much as he loved a good steak, there was something about a huge pile of pasta that appealed to him. He loved having more food than he could reasonably eat, and was a huge fan of leftovers. It worked for him since he had the metabolism of a hummingbird. (A trait I wish I had inherited)

But not to forget the cow, the only food my father splurged on was steak.

Most people nowadays think that ordering steak isn’t a big deal. But for someone like my father who lived through the great depression, it was the height of extravagance. Other than grilling it up yourself, a steak was something you had once or twice a year, usually for your birthday or anniversary.

Places like “Albie’s Beef Inn” and “The Butcher Shop” understood the value of a steak that consumes an entire plate, and a baked potato the size of a child’s head. And my dad loved places like that! The only thing better than a big yummy steak was a big, yummy, very affordable steak.

My mom may have made me a foodie. My father made me a big fan of cow.

I miss my dad, but I’m happy about the person I’ve become. And in no small part, I am the man I am today because of him.

I miss you dad. Happy 100th birthday.

3 Responses to “Clarence Clay Reeves – The Centennial”

  1. steph Says:

    Our can of bacon grease was most often a one pound Chock Full o’ Nuts coffee can. And we had several cast iron pieces in our kitchen growing up, including a large, footed Dutch oven. We had a square cast iron skillet, in part because you can fit more bacon into a square skillet than a round one.

    And, as to cow, you failed to mention the beloved Prime Rib Roast! Special occasions called for prime rib.

    Ah! Those were the days!

    When you raise your single malt toast to CCR tonight, raise another for me.

  2. chammer1248 Says:

    Wonderful post, Peter. Loved learning more about your dad. Happy Birthday, Clarence!

    P.S. How did I not remember your dad and my dad were both named Clarence??

  3. Peter Kevin Reeves Says:

    @Steph – I’m saving the prime rib roast for another blog entry… I think it goes well with the “Why folks in Chicago buy a side of beef” story.

    @Cherrie – Two guys named Clarence, both into radio and electronics. I think the Clarences would have gotten along well. 🙂

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