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The Nervous Breakdown

A Man, a Plan, a Canal Alimentary

I grew up in Minnesota during the last great wave of earnest and unhealthy casseroles, when 25-year-old mothers traded recipe cards at Welcome Wagon, and “salads” often contained no vegetables.

While not every household in my hometown defined “variety” by how many different dairy products could be worked into one hot dish, or had the audacity to name an admixture of marshmallows, dried coconut, and canned fruit cocktail a word meaning “food of the gods,” mine was, by these standards, the norm. My parents were college-educated, still bought music the day it came out, and even lived for years in Japan, but when it came to mealtime, they picked up where their own parents had left off.

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