Friday, January 06, 2006

Hidden Kitchens

As a Christmas gift I received a copy of Hidden Kitchens, a book based on the National Public Radio series by the same name.

One chapter tells the story of the George Foreman Grill, and how many low-income and homeless people use this grill to cook in back of buildings, under bridges, in efficiency apartments with no kitchen, etc. The authors tell the story of George Foreman himself, who grew up in poverty in Houston. As a child George never got to eat breakfast or lunch. He used to pick up a greasy fast food bag from the trash and blow air into it to make it look like he was bringing a lunch to school like the other kids.

In the summer, even worse, mothers would call their kids in for lunch and tell George to go home. “These people knew I had no food at home. I’d hide and peek through the window at the kids eating, and the parents would peel the crust off the bread, and I would just sit there hoping that they would throw it out the window for me,” he said.

NOW, fast forward many years, and this is what George has to say about it:

“I never forget peeping through that lady’s window when she was serving lunch to her kids after she told me to go home. We’ve got to be there for those kids. We’ve got to be there for those kids, no matter what. I’m pushed, I’m compelled, I’m motivated because of that. If there’s a food bank, all they gotta do is ask George Foreman. If I can find a dime, I’m going to make sure you get it. I try to keep those little visions alive for myself. Feed them.”

I have to admit, I think I've been sellin' ol' Georgie short all of these years. Lesson learned: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle." (paraphrase of Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria.)

(Btw, the book itself is a great read…if you are at all interested in cooking and how food brings people together, it’s marvelous! It’s part cookbook, part social analysis, and fascinating
. )


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