Last month when my Grandmother died I posted a top 10 list of the things I learned from her.  It was a list I put together for her memorial service and while it seemed a bit on the light side, I realized as I was putting the list together that each of those things did have a deeper meaning than what they may have seemed on their surface.  Number 10 was: Be a member of the clean plate club. 

I’ve actually spent the past several years cursing Grandma for this lesson.  I was a pretty fast learner when it came to cleaning my plate.  At age 5 I felt proud to hear Grandma describe me as a “good eater.”  At age 35, not so much.  But in her defense, Grandma had a reason for this attitude. 

I didn’t realize until much later that my Grandmother spent the majority of her childhood years hungry.  She lived in a home where food was in short supply which is probably unheard of for many of us.  It’s something that I can not even imagine. 

It also explains a lot about my Grandmother’s attitude about food and why she was such a good cook.  She loved food and nurtured it like a treasured pet.  She always had something to eat in the house and it was always good, no matter what it was.  Granma could make liver and onions taste good.  And she never wasted a bite.  Brown bananas were turned into banana bread.  Last night’s leftover corn was mixed into morning pancakes.  Grandma once called me a “rich bitch” when she caught me throwing out mushroom stems, lamenting the fact that I didn’t know what I was missing because I had never tasted real cream of mushroom soup. 

But the thing about using the last little bit of something was Grandma made it seem like that was the best part.  I always felt like the lucky one when I got the sandwich made with the heel of bread because Granma told me, “I used to love eating the heel when I was little.”  When our morning cereal was a mixture of raisin bran and Cheerios we thought it was a special treat.  It never occurred to me until years later that the real reason why Granma mixed the cereal is because she didn’t have enough of one kind to go around. 

So in honor of my Grandmother, I will gladly be a member of the clean plate club.  Because being a “good eater” is not really a bad thing.  It just means you know that the last bite is always the best one. 

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