A Word On Food: Cafeteria Foods

Cafeteria Foods

Hearing that word many of us might be thinking of our high school days and dishes like “macaroni wiggle” and “Neptune’s surprise”, prepared by women in nurses smocks, hair nets and white stockings with lines running down the back. Women of Slavic, Polish and Scandinavian ancestry, at least in my case, with strong, ample arms but soft, milky skin, and pursed, modestly lipsticked lips admonishing us to “take some salad too!”.

When I read Jack Kerouac’s 1946 account of a cafeteria named “Hectors” in his “Visions of Cody”, I began to understand what they used to be all about.

Kerouac wrote, “Then the serious business, the wild steaming fragrant hot‑plate counter‑Roast lamb, roast loin of pork, roast sirloin of beef, baked breast of lamb, stuffed pepper, boiled chicken, stuffed spring chicken, things to make the mouth water…The coffee counter, the urns, the cream jet, the steam‑But most of all it’s that shining glazed sweet counter‑showering like heaven….But I haven’t even mentioned the best of all‑the cold cuts and sandwich counter..the whole counter gleaming with icy joy.”

Much more than half the time when my wife Janet and I go out to have a bite to eat it’s not to any kind of a place with a white tablecloth. It’s often the kind of a place where I can hear Springsteen, John Fogarty, Tom Petty or Bob Seger music on the sound system.


Now it’s time to hit the ‘Listen on WLRN’ button at the top to hear the remainder of my show. ‘A Word On Food’ airs on WLRN every Saturday around 8:30 a.m. at 91.3 and also 91.5 on the radio. I want to thank so many of you who tell me in person how much you are enjoying the show!

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