July 16, 2013

When Food Is Love

My paternal grandmother, Ada, was not a great cook. I don't have many memories of her meals, but I have been assured by family members that they were not exactly haute cuisine. But I still remember her for her food. Or rather, for her biscuits. Which weren't all her biscuits.

Ada always had Spicy Fruit Rolls in the pantry. Always. And my sister and I ate them because, well, they were there. I would never have bought Spicy Fruit Rolls for myself. I would have bought something chocolate. Preferably triple coated chocolate with a chocolate cream filling and chocolate chips. Double chocolate chips. But Spicy Fruit Rolls were there and so we ate them. And we loved them, just like we loved her.
Little Pillows of Love

Ada also made a log. It's not the most appealing name for a dessert item, and, to be honest, it never really appealed to me much. It was a dense, biscuity concoction with coconut and sultanas and always scratched the back of my throat. But people loved that log. It was famous. Ada's Log. It even made it into a recipe book once, under the title 'Slice by Ada Slog'. That's how famous it was.

Imagine how famous it wold have been if it was chocolate.

My other grandmother, Mim, ate rye toast with cottage cheese for breakfast every single morning. With a cup of tea, not coffee. I prefer wholemeal bread, but when I was with her, I wanted rye. And now, when I think of her, I crave rye toast with cottage cheese.

My sister loved steak. I don't cook steak much at home, but every time I eat steak at a restaurant I think of her. I think of her, and I enjoy the steak even more because I am enjoying it for both of us.

I don't know what foods my kids will remember me for. Maybe 'Ultimate Milk', which is a special chocolate milk I make them as a treat before bed. Or 'Perfect Toast', which is toast with just the right amount of Nutella. Or schnitzel, which doesn't have chocolate but tastes excellent anyway. Or spaghetti bolognaise, which is my favourite comfort food and one of theirs, too.

There is so much of life we take for granted. The tastes. The smells. The sounds. The sights. Sometimes, it takes a loss for us to be reminded of what we had. Or the sight of a packet of Spicy Fruit Rolls on the supermarket shelf. Or a cup of tea with cottage cheese toast, first thing in the morning.

What foods bring back special memories for you? 

43 comments:

  1. Oh beautifully put, lovely. Boiled eggs = my Grandpa. Roast chicken (badly over-cooked) = my Ma (Dad's mum). None of my grandparents could cook worth a damn. I'm trying to make sure my son has some excellent food memories of me. Time will tell. xxx

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  2. Detachable PrincessJuly 16, 2013 at 9:56 AM

    Whenever I'm sick, I want nothing more than stewed apple - it's what mum would make when I had a cold!

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  3. For me it is huckleberry pie.

    My grandparents had a summer house in the Catskill Mountains, and most of the property was wild huckleberry bushes. I would go out with one of my grandmother's porcelain pots to collect huckleberries ... one for the pot ... two for me (I ate more than I collected). She made her pies with a cookie dough crust and the filling had lots of lemon along with the huckleberries.

    I have only tasted blueberry pie that tasted like my grandma's huckleberry pie at one other place ... a Brooklyn restaurant that was a landmark, but unfortunately - like my grandma - no longer with us.

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  4. Strawberries equals vomit and INXS. I once vomited a strawberry chunk out of my nose. Is that the special memory you mean?

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  5. Jay - Moodie FoodieJuly 16, 2013 at 10:18 AM

    I think I have a food memory for just about every food I eat! Weird but true. I was just writing a post about meatloaf, my mum made a mean meatloaf..... Lovely post, I'm all nostalgic now xo

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  6. pancakes. I rarely eat them now, but my grandmother used to make them for me when I visited.

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  7. Lovely post. Food is most definitely love, I feel this so strongly I married a chef!

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  8. Pancakes. Yes! Because we never just make them for ourselves, do we? Someone always makes them for us! x

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  9. LOL. That's not really what I meant, but it's hilarious, so I'll accept it.

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  10. My nana made stewed apple too! I make it but it's not the same!

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  11. I know this isn't the food memory you're after but I'll tell you anyway. I simply cannot walk into a Chinese restaurant without the memory of my brother puking into a little Chinese bowl. My mum looked around the table at her horrible children and turned to the waiter, "we'll take the check now please, and also we'll need some more serviettes."

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  12. I never met my grandparents so all I can say is that you should treasure all your memories of them :-) Yolanda

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  13. Pancake stack with cherries, soda bread with lashings of butter, chicken livers fried with bacon & onion, chocolate ripple cake with pink icecream, a fry-up for breakfast, smarties.... the list goes on. So many people, so many dishes :)

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  14. Such a lovely post, Kerri! I was bought up in a home where food is love and still is! My nana made the best bread pudding ever - it's one of my favourite things to make and I love it mostly because it has the essence of nana. She had brown bread and marmalade and a cup of tea for breakfast every day, and every time I eat it, which is certainly not every day, I think of her, and enjoy it twice as much. Bread pudding and marmalade on toast are in no way gourmet fare but they transport me right back to the good old days with a good old lady. Special food and special memories.

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  15. My gran's strawberry shortcake slice. Lots of coconut on the top, and to die for. Damn, she spoiled me !....

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  16. I loved scrambled curried eggs on toast for breakfast, till one fine day my husband cooked them for me yet again as a treat. Unfortunately I was pregnant at the time, that was 25 years ago and to this day I can't stand them, ruined it for me. xxx

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  17. Lovely post Kerri. I remember my Mum's vegetable soup and beef stroganoff. Both delicious and still trying to perfect them today. Hope I get there one day. I think my kids will be the kind of kids who'd miss a date with Tom Cruise for my Roasts! (Not that anyone would date Tom Cruise these days, so maybe that other dude everyone bangs on about Ryan Gooseling or something?)

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  18. I love this post my dear. A lot.
    For me...

    Lemon butter and popping elves chocolate - kisses with my uni boyfriend in his parents kitchen when we were barefoot and it was summer

    Sav blanc - my best girl who lives in NZ. I never drink white unless I'm with her.

    Sponge rolls and coconut cake - My dad
    Doritos - my mate Stu who used to be an old fashioned newspaper movie reviewer and every Thursday for years he'd take me to 3 back to back movies for free and all I had to do was buy him a bag of Doritos
    Orange flavoured chocolate - my man
    Sweet deli yogurt - my mum

    Yogo - my brother

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  19. Roast potatoes cooked in lard in a wood fire stove and scones. My grandma had a wood stove and cooked a roast every Sunday and scones to die for. She didn't follow a recipe or measure things out. If we were there when she made the dough we could make our own jam or apple roly poly. My family are convinced the roast potatoes tasted so good because of the lard.. ....can't beat a bit of animal fat. My other grandma always cooked me boiled eggs with butter for breakfast. Simple but comforting food that bring back memories

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  20. Oh! I love that you have so many different sensory memories associated with so many different foods xxx

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  21. Oh YES! I had mushroom soup ruined for me in a similar way!

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  22. "The essence of nana" - I absolutely adore that phrase x

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  23. Yum to all... except the livers. I'm not an offal person! x

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  24. We used to call them pillow biscuits too. I used to eat around the outside first then peel off the front and back. I loved them! I didn't have any grandparents or aunts to spoil me with food and my mother very rarely baked but she did keep a supply of Arnott's biscuits in the cupboard. We never had chocolate ones though but I don't know why. Maybe that's why I'm not a dessert or sweet eater.
    My greatest memory of food when a child was being allowed - at last - to order a T-bone at a roadside café on a long drive south (we come from North Queensland). After that, I was allowed to order it each time and it's remained one of my favourite foods.

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  25. So many, but the strongest food memory I have is homemade jam on homemade bread at my Granny's. Also rhubarb still reminds me of her.


    A bad-but-good memory is Domino's pizza, which I was very unwell with when I went into labour with my first baby

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  26. Oh! That's just reminded me of another food memory - of eating steak with my parents and sister at a particular restaurant in Bondi. Thank you!

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  27. As kids we had the flat version of those in the cupboard, we used to call them squashed fly sandwiches and the pillow ones of course were squashed fly pillows.

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  28. You do know that pate is made with chicken livers, right?? x

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  29. OH yes. I hate pate. HATE IT! It's like cat food x

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  30. Alfalfa sprouts always reminds me of my maternal grandmother. I remember her eating them and I thought she was eating grass.

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  31. Aww, my poor parents were pretty awful cooks, truth be told, but one thing I loved was eating corned beef with boiled potatoes. I now cook my own version (usually with baked potatoes) and it makes me quite nostalgic. Also, one of the first things I learnt to cook, that I would make for my parents and I as a treat on weekends, were warm boiled egg sandwiches. Delish. It's bittwersweet in that cooking these makes me miss them, but feel closer to that time as well.



    Great post :)

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  32. YUM. Love warm boiled egg sambos x

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