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Whole-grain bread no substitute for croquettes

By Jason Offutt

I used to love lunch. The pizza, the breadsticks, the hot roast beef open-faced sandwich slathered in gravy.
Now when others are eating these grease-filled staples of the average American diet, I’m eating Cheerios, a nice healthy salad, or 97 percent fat-free lunchmeat on whole grain bread. Not whole wheat, whole grain. Whole wheat is just white bread with better PR.
If you’re going to eat bread, whole grain is the way to go. That is, if you value fiber as much as my doctor does. If you want bread that feels like you’re eating a piece of wood, you’ll pick whole grain. If you want bread that tastes like cake, you’ll want white.
Ah, white bread. How I miss you. Coming home from elementary school, my mother would always have a snack ready. Sometimes it was marshmallow cream and peanut butter on graham crackers. Sometimes it was a slice of American cheese cut into the shape of a house. And sometimes it was cookies. But nothing compared to bread, butter and sugar.
Yes, it was exactly how it sounds. A slice of Wonder Bread spread with butter – real butter – its rock hard consistency ripping that poor white bread to shreds, covered with granulated sugar.
This was crack to an elementary school kid. It was also a normal snack for the 1970s when all the average American knew about good health was that it was for Europeans. Today Family Services would storm the house in SWAT gear if a mom served this to their innocent, unsuspecting children.
But this isn’t about snacks, it’s about lunch. Stupid lunch.
I occasionally revisit Mom’s cookbook. Tonight was croquettes. Fried-on-the-outside, gooey-on-the-inside croquettes – something so yummy and greasy it might just kill you.
There’s something about a favorite childhood dish that takes you back to that time, and I had it for supper. The only difference was that I had to cook it myself.
I didn’t just fix enough for supper; I made enough for my next two days’ lunch. It was like my personal time machine back to 1977. However, I didn’t count on my wife.
Sneaking into the kitchen late, with the sole purpose of grabbing one more bite of croquette before bed, I found my wife leaning against the sink eating out of Tupperware.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Eating.”
“That’s my lunch,” I said. “For the next two days. It took me more than an hour to make those.”
“Oops,” she said, then popped a pinch of croquette into her mouth.
I looked into the empty container.
“You ate them all,” I said, my tone sounding an awful lot like it did when I was a kid and a first grade classmate made a slanderous remark about Santa.
She shrugged.
“They were good,” she said, and went to bed.
Marriage Rule No. 287: As a husband the only thing you own is what the cat did on the carpet.
I looked into the refrigerator and found 97 percent fat free lunchmeat and whole grain bread. Well, it’s not yummy, but at least it won’t kill me.

Jason’s latest book, “Paranormal Missouri: Show Me Your Monsters,” is available at amazon.com

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