Before I was born, my family lived on 13th Street in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This is a great neighborhood; dozens of families with lots of children. One of our families’ closest friends, the Striblings, lived directly across the street. Both families had a herd of children and all these children had a serious propensity towards shenanigans’.
Mr. Stribling was an incredible man. I remember him well and always enjoyed my time with him. Mr. Stribling was a gentle, well mannered, kind man. He had an incredible reputation and was well loved throughout the community.
One day my mother decided to play a prank on Mr. Stribling. She was 9 years old at the time. She waited until my grandparents were out of the house to begin the preparation of what would forever be known as the “Swedish Delight”.
My grandfather always had the family, all 6 of them, scrape their plates into a large metal bowl after every meal. At some point, this smorgasbord of food would become a treat for my grandfathers’ beloved Labrador Retrievers but never before the bowl was full which took several days. My mother took the contents of the bowl, which were already ripe and began her preparations. She worked the awful pile of leftovers until they were soggy enough to place into an old food mold of my grandmothers. When my mother’s delicacy was finished forming in the antique mold, she carefully popped it out onto a gold leaf china serving dish.
Now you need to know that about that time, my mother’s grandmother Dora Wilson, had been traveling throughout Europe. This included a visit to Sweden which Mr. Stribling knew about. He also knew that Dora Wilson had just returned home from her travels.
When my mother left the room, she didn’t leave the house, instead she sprinted around the corner into Mr. and Mrs. Striblings bedroom, slowly opened the door, which led into the living room where Mr. Stribling was sitting, lay on the floor and proceeded to watch the grand feast take place.
Mr. Stribling picked up the fork that my mother delivered with the meal and began to eat the greasy, days’ old pile of horribleness. After a few bites, Mrs. Stribling walked into the room. She is equally as wonderful a person as Mr. Stribling but that day, much wiser and alert. When she saw what he was eating, she loudly exclaimed “Tom Stribling, what are you eating!” Mr. Stribling replied, “Why I’m eating this Swedish Delight that Dora Wilson brought to me from Europe”. Mrs. Stribling then shouted “Tom, those are dog scraps from the Wilson’s kitchen! Mr. Stribling froze in mid bite and slowly looked up at Mrs. Stribling who was standing over him; he had been had and he knew it
My mother lay in the doorway, with her hands cupped over her mouth, trembling with laughter. She almost gave herself away but luckily was able to suppress her laughter and slip out the back door.
This was only the beginning of my mother’s alternative culinary career; there was much more to come.