“Hey kids, enjoy the duck.”

When I was a little girl in the late 50’s and early 60’s growing up in Concord, CA, my dad often fished and hunted and, unfortunately for me, brought his catch home to the dinner table. To this day, I’m convinced the reason I don’t like fish is because of the bottom feeders I was fed at our dinner table – catfish, flounder, bass, etc.  We never had salmon and we never even heard of Mahi Mahi.

The worst was when my dad would bring home a duck and we were forced to eat it for dinner. To add insult to injury, Mom would serve it with Brussels sprouts. Dad would say, and I’m not making this up, “Hey kids, enjoy the duck, but watch out for the buck shot.”  Besides the gamey taste, I was afraid to eat it because I thought I might bite down on a bullet and I had visions of my head exploding which would make quite a mess at the dinner table.

Apparently, they knew back in 1962 that lead wasn’t good for you, so my dad changed his hunting habits. Instead of lead he started using steel buckshot, just in case we kids swallowed one.  My dad would say, “Lead is bad for you, whether you experience it in a blast or swallow it.”

Back in the day we were not allowed to leave the table until we finished our dinner. I didn’t want to hurt my dad’s feelings, but I just couldn’t bring myself to eat his duck, so I found myself sitting at the kitchen table for a very long time. Regrettably, I was a prominent member of the “Clean Plate Club,” constantly reminded of all the starving children in China. Being a good-natured child, I offered to send my duck dinner to a family in China, but my parents didn’t seem to appreciate my generosity.

One of the good things about growing up and becoming an adult is that you get to choose what you want for dinner. Tonight’s meal will be pasta with a side salad, some warm (and buttered) Parmesan & sun-dried tomato focaccia bread and a glass of Chardonnay – with no fear of my head exploding. And if I don’t eat it all, I get dessert anyway.

Written by Susan 6/6/20