You would think I’m going to talk about kibble and milk bones in this article, but thankfully I am not. I am going to tell you about a dish that is near and dear to my heart, and my family likes to call it Dog Food. Strange? No doubt. Stick with me anyway and keep reading…
My grandpa passed away from lung cancer when I was only six-years-old, but I have very clear and defined memories of him. For one, we called him Donnie instead of Grandpa. I remember how he’d let me play “beautiful parlor” and wrap his barely-there white hair into pink foam curlers while he watched television. I remember how he came to my kindergarten class to carve a pumpkin with me when my dad could not. I remember how he’d yell out Jeopardy answers to Alex Trebek from the oversized, red, leather chair that sat far from the television in his expansive living room. I remember he had Mickey Mouse ears that hung on the coat rack, and he’d wear them while I was visiting. He used to play on a ham radio, and you could hear him loud and clear testing into the microphone saying things like, “444” from the loft that hung above the kitchen. He used to fold and press his napkin into a neat triangle after he was finished with his meal. He had a special creamer dish that both Mom and Gram supplied at their respective homes, but it didn’t hold creamer. It held toothpicks, and it sat on the table at every family meal. I remember he had big rough hands, at least it seemed that way to me, as I was a little girl. I think about him so many years after he’s been gone. Actually, it’s been eighteen years – most of my life.
Why am I going on and on about Donnie? I’m going on about Donnie because this post is about his favorite dinner, which our family lovingly refers to as Dog Food. Dog Food came to be because Donnie’s mother, my Great Grandma Ruth, was an absolutely terrible cook. Worst of all, she burned any kind of meat entrée she made. Enter Donnie’s solution to this dilemma. Donnie’s answer to terrible food was to combine everything on his into a large heap and add condiments as necessary (note: usually necessary). What came to be known as Dog Food was his favorite concoction: a mountain of mashed potatoes (the real kind – not instant), green peas, and beef hamburger patty mixed with ketchup – lots of ketchup. Sound disgusting? It’s not. I promise. It’s one of my favorite meals. In fact, I think I’ve asked for Dog Food for my birthday dinner on several occasions.
Why? It takes me home. It takes me back to being a little girl sitting at the dinner table with my best friend. When my family and I eat our beloved Dog Food today, I feel like Donnie is right there with us, smiling down on us, chuckling under his breath, and kissing each of us atop our heads.