99. Granny-Size Helpings

99. Granny-Size Helpings

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Shaping the New You

Granny-Size Helpings

Moderation is the silken string
running through the pearl chain of all virtues.
 ~Joseph Hall

“I’ll have another,” I said to my friend after eating half a slice of her decadent cake. Christy already knew that I only indulged in halves, so she saved the other half for me in case I’d like more (sometimes I did if dieting wasn’t the biggest issue at the moment).

Ever since I was a little tyke I would watch my grandmother, Margaret, serve everything in halves to her big family. There were nine kids and two adults in one house, and then some visiting grandkids, so it became a way of life for them to all have a small share of everything. Every time I went to her house we were served what she called “half portions,” so no one went without. Cups of tea, cookies, cupcakes, cereal—everything—was halved, then quartered, or sliced paper thin so that everyone who wanted it could have some.

It was always the family joke when new guests were offered the infamous “granny-sized” portions. They would always be expecting a typical Thanksgiving-at-Grandma’s giant-sized meal, and would instead find half of something on their plates. “There’s usually more after everyone else is served,” reassured the server, and the guests were usually understanding.

Even as the family size dwindled over the decades as the children grew and moved out, the rule of thumb was still “halves,” mostly out of habit, but also because nothing went to waste. Grandma grew up in a big family, and was also a survivor of the Great Depression, so sharing small bits of everything was normal to her.

French chefs know that small portions are best because the eater will thoroughly enjoy just the first few bites of something anyway, and savor several different things instead of big portions like Americans do. The rest is simply “overindulgence,” hence their familiar small portions of many courses in a formal meal.

And my very Irish grandmother already knew that secret from basic necessity.

When I need to watch my girlish figure I try to apply this simple “half of everything” principle, but always with a happy memory of my tiny grandmother, and her small platters of treats and drinks. I order a small size of something or automatically pack up half of the big meal or even an occasional dessert to save for later—or share. When I make a big meal it is with sharing in mind or to freeze it in small portions for easy-to-go, portion-controlled meals.

And now, visiting a friend who is also a very good baker, I don’t even need to ask for a half slice anymore. She even calls it “granny-sized” because she knows me well and usually she eats the other half as we sip tea or wine and talk.

~Janice M. Wilson

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