What my grandfather taught me about food: Eating well Navy-style

Here are a few treasured stories from one of my heroes, and what they can teach us about feeding our families.

Trickery Is Fair Game

My Grandfather on WWII Shore Leave

Here is a picture of my grandfather on shore leave in Seattle during World War II. Resemblance?

As an electrician on a Navy destroyer, my grandfather had a way of getting access to the officers’ much tastier food stores. The carefully-practiced routine went like this:

  1. During an inspection of the officers’ quarters, unplug the refrigerator.
  2. Return to your station, and empty out a toolbox. Wait to be called upon.
  3. When one of the officers notices that the fridge is out, act surprised. Respond to that service call with empty toolbox in hand.
  4. Load up the toolbox, plug the fridge back in, and take credit for a speedy repair job.

Lesson learned: We know our kids employ some trickery, like sneaking food to the dog under the table. As parents, let’s stay on our guard and keep a few tricks up our own sleeves.

Sometimes Dinner Is Just S.O.S.

At dinner, S.O.S. stands for Same Old Stuff, Slop on a Shingle, or…that other word that begins with S. Basically we’re talking about a creamy meat dish (typically sliced, canned “chip beef”) served over toast. Today you might actually pay a lot for it at a nice restaurant if they described it as “Thin-sliced braised Cascadian natural beef shoulder in a béchamel truffle sauce” and called the toast a “garlic crouton.”

Lesson learned: Sometimes you’ve just gotta eat what’s on your plate. Ease the process by making up funny names for your family’s recipes.  And don’t forget that even the most basic scratch-made meals typically beat the nutritional content of drive-thru.

Ice Cream For Pilots

One of the key missions of a destroyer in the South Pacific was rescuing downed pilots. Nearby destroyers would race to be first to these reported coordinates, not just for the sake of the pilot, but because carriers paid out a 5-gallon container of ice cream for each returned pilot. The problem was, this wouldn’t come close to feeding all the men on the ship, and as anyone with small children knows, rewarding just a portion of your crew is a recipe for mutiny. The solution was (I’m not kidding) to save up pilots on your ship, ideally delivering 5 at a time for a full-crew ice cream social.

Lesson learned: Always consider the health and happiness of your whole family, not just a subset. Have you ever found yourself feeding the kids well and forgetting yourself entirely?

Thank you veterans, we are all indebted to you.

Are there any military food stories in your own family history? Do you employ dinner table trickery, or have favorite nicknames for recipes? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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Posted in Family, Food Articles, Parenting, Philosophies, Thanks
4 comments on “What my grandfather taught me about food: Eating well Navy-style
  1. Resemblance indeed! Great post Ryan!

  2. WOW…you really are the spitting image of him!

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