Better Than Food

Other than my father’s corny jokes, most of our family traditions involved food. Dad was clever. He hid his lack of culinary skills by entertaining the troops, and his show magically made everything taste better. When serving his creations, he often proclaimed them, “Better than food.” And who were we to disagree? His crazy-shaped pancakes always delighted, as did his made-from-leftovers spaghetti sauce and soup—what he called “Baseball Soup” during the season that extended into the fall if the Yankees reached the playoffs. Dad roasted chestnuts all year long, divvied up pomegranates, made an art out of day-old corn on the cob, carefully peeling off one row at a time and distributing the kernels into eager hands. He stuffed ice cream cones with cold mashed potatoes that never melted on a sweltering summer day. And in 1963, he reinvented popcorn. He named his crunchy half-popped popcorn snack, Nutranuts. His goal was to lure us kids away from candy and junk food to reduce dental bills. Mum’s the word on his success rate.