When I was a kid, one of my favorite things that my sister made for me was broccoli and cheese. I was too young to remember, but my mother and sister assure me that I used to always request this dish while referring to broccoli as “little trees.” What I do remember is that I preferred the softer tops of the trees more than the hard stalks at the bottom. Also, the cheese sticks better to the crowns so that was an added bonus. I think the “cheese” at the time was Velveeta, that bizarre yellow-orange stuff in a box that doesn’t have to be refrigerated because it’s not actually cheese at all, just a mixture of preservatives. But it was a perfect way to disguise “veggies” so that little American kids would actually eat them.

Philippe makes an adult version of this with real ingredients and it’s delicious. And when he passes the boxed cheese in the store he still makes a wincing sound as though in actual physical pain. Having not had processed food in so long, this would likely be the case if we were to ever consume any of the stuff so we just pass by it, in horrified fascination. Once, while in the grocery, I pointed out a can of SPAM and mentioned that I used to have it fried on sandwiches. He winced again, and asked what it’s made from. I told him nobody really knows, and that’s why it’s so weird. As a kid, I was convinced it was unicorn meat, which was equal parts disgusting and magically delicious!

It’s strange to grow up eating things that as a sensible adult you wouldn’t possibly consume anymore. All the flavors of my childhood are really just a distant memory. I occasionally wonder what it would be like to sample some of those foods I used to eat. Would it bring back memories so wonderful it’s worth risking the painful indigestion? Probably not. I think most of it tastes better locked in my imagination. I’m a fan of real food these days, so those American food stuff inventions are no longer on the menu. But in those quiet moments, I think back to that time when garishly colored lukewarm cheese was simply the coolest thing on the planet. Provided, of course, it was served on top of a few little trees.

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About the Doodlewash

M. Graham Watercolors:  Gamboge, Permanent Green Pale, Burnt Sienna, and Ultramarine Blue. Sennelier: Olive Green. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal.
My Favorite Kid's Food Broccoli and Cheese #WorldWatercolorGroup

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39 thoughts on “My Favorite Kid’s Food

  1. Your broccoli looks amazing! hard to imagine that was your favorite childhood food…. I used to love saltine crackers at Grandma’s. We never got them at home. My mom bought Ritz, and I loved Grandma’s saltines better. Grandpap put them in his coffee and called it coffee soup. And yep – we had all of our vegetables buried in velveeta back in the day too. Funny to think of that. 🙂

  2. Fantastic! It’s great that the doodlewashes are by default so much bigger now – much easier to peruse!

    I used to ask for ‘little trees’ too! So much so, that I used to make a point of finding it at the supermarket and throwing the ‘tree’ in the trolley. It never tasted as good as I imagined, though… perhaps it needed the cheese treatment! And aw, poor Philippe and his shopping ordeals. I don’t believe I’ve ever tried unicorn meat/SPAM – I shan’t be rushing to change that!

  3. Charlie, your painting of trees with a ribbon of orange is absolutely beautiful! You captured every part of the broccoli and the cheese-like syrup to perfection. It looks appetizing, though I never liked Velveeta and still don’t care for broccoli. (I do love most other veggies.)

    My favorite childhood food was a grilled sandwich with tomato slices on top, served open face. Still my favorite.
    Probably Borden’s slices when I was a kid, so only one step up from Velveeta.

  4. I am so glad that velveeta and spam is a very distant memory, yep it was a part of my childhood though thank goodness my mother was an excellent cook and we had a lot of “farm food with a Southern twist” even in the middle of LA! Amusing post Charlie, one that made me step back to days long gone 🙂

  5. That is an amazing painting. That broccoli looks good enough to eat. With real cheese. It’s actually kind of amazing that you as a kid, liked it as most kids don’t.

  6. Magically delicious?! Wasn’t that the commercial for the sugary cereal, Lucky Charms? 😉❤️🍀 Lol! My sister’s favorite if I recall correctly! 😄 I didn’t like veggies much as a kid. In fact I used to feed my peas to the cat…fluoride vitamins too! Our cat had great teeth! 😂🐱 Love your “little trees” Charlie!! Fun post today. ❤️🎨
    P.S. I was never very fond of Unicorn meat… Hehe! 🦄🦄🦄

  7. Yes those “foods” popular in the 50s and 60s still baffle me. My parents actually did start eating real food in later years, so I guess they finally found it weird too! At least you had real broccoli with your velveeta…we rarely had a vegetable that was not out of a can when I grew up…(K)

  8. I can always count on you, Charlie, to take me down that odd memory lane of childhood foods! Cheez Whiz. Loved loved loved that. We never had Velveeta, but I think the idea is the same: dairy product that never needs refrigeration. You truly have elevated the non-dairy cheese products, though, with that outstanding Dooodlewash. Little trees never looked better.

  9. I think bananas have always been my fave food, at any time! In any way. My recent love is a Malaysian dessert served at Pappa Rich in the city (and yes, I have a few pix to show later), called Roti Banana Vanilla Ice Cream, takes up the whole of a full-size dinner plate, a meal in itself…Yum!
    ‘Tho as an adult, I have come to love broccoli. In fact, I had some yesterday in a Green Barramundi curry, delicious! Your doodle is delicious too.

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