The latest food recalls involve peanuts products that are contaminated with salmonella bacteria. Most food scares don't bother me, but this one caught my attention.
From a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole-wheat toast for breakfast to a spoonful of peanut butter for late-night snack, I seem to have gravitated to a peanut butter diet. If I stay away from peanut products, what would I eat? (Visit www.fda.gov to see the products you should avoid right now.)
Growing up on a farm, I ate peanuts often, but I still remember the day a nickel bag of goobers made me an enemy for years.
In elementary school, if it was raining, we had to wait for our buses at the end of the day in the cafeteria - "rainy day schedule," they called it - and it was loud, chaotic crowd.
Vending machines in the back of the lunchroom, normally for teachers only, were accessible to kids on such days. One wet afternoon, my older brothers bought me a bag of shelled peanuts and a Coke in a glass bottle to keep me occupied while they did big-kid stuff.
Rain was beating on the tin roof. Kids were running, laughing, screaming, playing games. I was oblivious to all that in my own little snack world.
I poured the salted nuts into the Coke for a sweet and salty flavor.
That worked well - until the drink ran dry, leaving a few peanuts stuck to the bottom of the bottle.
The best way to shake the peanuts loose, I decided, was to turn the bottle upside down and beat it on the lunchroom table.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
I never got my reward, because just then I was yanked up by my collar and dragged on my heels into the kitchen. It was a teacher from the upper grades, but I didn't know him because all my teachers in the lower grades had been women.
"Boy, why are you disrupting rainy-day schedule?" he demanded.
If I had been able to get a word in, I would have said, "Huh?" Then I would have said, "Are you sure you have the right kid?"
But I didn't say anything.
"Do you think it's funny to disturb everyone else by hitting the table with a bottle?" he asked.
Disturbing everyone else? Had he been in the same room of kids I was in?
He pried the bottle from my little fingers and ordered me to return to my seat: "And don't you ever let me catch you causing trouble again!"
Our school ran through the eighth grade, and for the next few years I kept running afoul of that teacher. All he had to do was spot me, and suddenly I was trouble. Wherever I went, he was there, ready to pounce.
Only when I graduated and moved on to high school did I breathe easy.
That fall, I found that he had transferred to the same school! I considered dropping out to join the circus, the Army or some other safer place.
As high school progressed, though, I got to know him, and he turned out to be a decent man. I never asked him why he had singled me out in a crowded lunchroom, and I never again poured peanuts into my Coke.
MOORE WORDS: The salmonella bacteria found in the peanut supply is named for Daniel Elmer Salmon (1850-1914), a veterinary pathologist who helped identify the strain. Because it isn't named after salmon, in which the L is silent, you pronounce all the L's in salmonella.
Reach Glynn Moore at email@example.com.
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