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I can never make up my mind on canned goods.* I grew up in the Midwest where food from a can was a good thing: convenient, easy to work with, and preferable to fresh which wasn’t always available or seasonable. Indeed, the use of canned goods was a sort of bent status symbol. We could afford them. My collection of church ladies cookbooks from that bygone era seldom mention as ingredients fresh vegetables. You opened a few tins and stirred the contents together to make haute Midwest cuisine I grew up eating.
Nowadays canned goods are sort of a pariah food, something negative. Fresh stuff is better for us and without the suspicions of high sodium, BPA, and preservatives. No canned food ever!  is the new status symbol. Cooking fresh now says I can afford fresh food and I have the leisure time to prepare such.  Small wonder I am confused what to do with the stuff.

I confess I like canned goods if mostly for their convenience. At the end of the work day I am very tired and have no time (nor the mood) to cook. By opening up some tins of tomatoes, mushroom buttons, etc. and throwing them all in some pasta sauce (also out of a tin) this makes for a hot, cheap, and quick meal. Same goes for soup. On a busy weekend I don’t have time to prepare a proper luncheon. A can of Progresso can be opened and microwaved (and consumed) in mere minutes.  Last Sunday I spent hours preparing a pot of fresh soup.  The results were vast superior to the tinned stuff but I spent lots of time and money making it and I made a mess of the kitchen, all for a dozen or so spoonfuls of soup. It didn’t seem worth all the fuss.

I have another confession even worse than the first one. This one involves Chef Boyardee mini-ravioli and Spaghettios. I got these as treats when my babysitters came over. One of them didn’t bother to heat them up (there were no microwaves then remember); they were served them right from the can. I didn’t know until later these delicacies are supposed to be removed from their cans and heated.  As a consequence of this childhood trauma I still prefer them cold and right out of the tin.  In the back of the pantry sit a couple of tins of Spaghettios for ’emergencies’. All I need is a can opener and a spoon. Oh the embarrassment but there it is.

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*When I was a boy I had an English nanny (really!). She said ‘tins’ instead of ‘cans’ as in: “Let’s have us some nice tinned peaches with tea!”  I said tins for awhile until I got to grade school when I discovered no one knew what the hell I was talking about. To this day the word ‘tin’ comes out like a Freudian slip.

 

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