Saturday, December 04, 2010

Weekend Cooking: Food from home - Part 1

This is the first post in a series of posts where I thought I would talk about the food and drinks that I think about when I think about some of the places I have lived over the years. Most of the posts are already pretty much written but at this stage I am not sure when I will post the rest of them. Depends on whether I am have lots of other posts for Weekend Cooking or not.

Last weekend I went to Perth for a family gathering to celebrate my grandmother's 90th birthday. Last year I went for my grandfather's 100th birthday, so you could say that we have some longevity in our family.

When I do go back to Perth, which is where I lived until I was 10 years old, there are a couple of things that I need to do! One is that I have to drink some spearmint flavoured milk. I don't know why, but you can't get it in other places where I have lived in Australia, but for me it is a real taste that I associate particularly with Perth.

The other thing I do like to do is go to a shop in London Court which specialises in importing foods from Britain, and while I am there I buy a couple of cans of Homepride Chilli. This is a brand that I really enjoyed when I lived in the UK, and I haven't really found a brand of chilli here that I like as much as I liked that one.  We used to buy jars, but as far as I know you can only get it in cans here. I will probably talk more about this when I talk about the food that I have strong memories from the UK.

As an aside, London Court is probably my favourite place to go when I do visit Perth. It is an alleyway between two major roads in the centre of Perth that was built during 1930s but it was built to replicate a Tudor laneway.  I loved going there as a kid, and I still love going there now. It is filled with tourist shops or overpriced boutiques but I do still love wandering through it whenever I head to Perth. Unfortunately because it was such a quick trip last weekend I didn't get to go there this time.

I always get worried if they are checking my hand luggage at the airport as it must look a bit strange when my only souvenirs from visiting Perth are a couple of litres of  Spearmint Milk and a couple of cans of chilli.

A couple of other food memories: One day I was visiting Perth with a friend, and we were wandering around Freo (or Fremantle if you aren't a local) when we picked a random restaurant, and I ordered Garlic Prawns with Rice. Every now and again if I go out for dinner I will order this, but it has NEVER lived up to my memories of that meal so long ago.

I can't remember the last time I actually ate it, but if I see Steak and Kidney Pie on a menu I will always and forever think about my grandparents. The story goes that my grandmother had been serving it up to my grandfather as a meal for 20 or 30 years, so it was something of a surprise when one day he turned around and told her not only did he not like it now, but that he had never, ever liked it.

We moved away from my family when I was about 10, so we have lived away from them for a very long time now. I was very surprised when I went back to Perth when my grandfather was in his 70s because he suddenly had developed a liking for cappuccinos, so the both my grandparents used to trot down to the local Kmart, and have a cappuccino. He used to to eat the froth off of the top before drinking the coffee, and we would pretend to be horrified that he did that! Neither of them get out of the house because they both have restricted mobility now, but the simple pleasure of my grandparents drinking cappuccinos and making that same joke every time will be one of my enduring memories of them.

Ever since I can remember my grandfather had a lolly tin that sat by the side of his chair, and all the children who visited them knew that was there they would find them! It would be filled with lots of different types of lollies, but most particularly with liquorice allsorts. He also always had Kool Mints, and so this is something else that I associate with him too.

So often it is the small things that we remember. My auntie will be horrified that I mention this if she happens to see that I have written about it, but we were staying with her a few years ago, and we were having chicken parmigiana for dinner (which is chicken schnitzel covered in tomato sauce and then with melted cheese). When we were sitting down for dinner the boy whispered to me that there was no cheese, and I shushed him and said maybe they just have it that way. When we got up in the morning, she said she had woken up at 5am suddenly realising that she had forgotten the cheese. When I said that we were going to stay with her again this time, he said to me that maybe we could have parmigiana with cheese this time. Because we see them so rarely I am pleased that he has a specific memory that he associates with her! When we were over there this time he even asked her about having chicken parmigiana with cheese.

Well, this turned out to be a longer post than I thought it would!

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Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs


  1. What a great post. Food is linked with memories for me too, and it's amazing how the mention of one kind of food can bring back such vivid images.

    I had to laugh at the thought of the airplane security people looking in your bag to find milk and chili.

    I love this whole idea and I'll be looking forward to more in the sereis.

  2. oh, don't not post the rest!
    Food and family and memories are all tied together and I love to hear the stories. And I even shared one this week myself.

    Having carried black pudding (a blood sausage) through customs from Ireland, I understand your concern.

  3. What fun memories, I love my *foodie* memories from my younger days. Keep these coming.

  4. I do the same thing with cappuccinos - lick the froth off first! :--) And I love the word lolly! Everyone should have a lolly tin!!!

  5. I love your food memories, Marg. Please do more. It's so interesting to me to read of food tastes in different parts of the world. I like the part where you carry milk and chili in your suitcase. I once knew a woman who did that with roast beef sandwiches. I can't imagine how they tasted once she was home, or how her clothes smelled.

  6. My grandmother was pasionate about Licorice Allsorts, and every once in awhile I get a yearning for them myself. Only, here in America? They're usually tough and hard. I wish that I could have them fresh and chewy like they must be in England. Another sweet I've always wanted to try, but never have, is Turkish Delight. If Edmund could eat so much from the White Witch, I wonder what it tasted like. Even though it was enchanted...

  7. Ooh I love licorice allsorts! YUM! I have another giveaway for my weekend cooking post.

  8. I loved your post today. Food holds a large place in many people's memories. I haven't had Steak and Kidney pie in decades. My grandmother used to make it but my mom had no interest in spending time to learn how, so I've not had it since.

    My niece has been living with us for 6 months now, and she is always excited when her mother or friends send packages from overseas and they include her favourite foods.

  9. Spearmint flavored milk sounds like it would be just exceptionally awesome, and I have to find a way to try some myself!

  10. Wonderful post, Marg! I have similar food memories to yours--although my food memory of my Great Grandma is of aniseed rings, and of liquorice for my Grandad. :) For my Nanna it's her home-made gnocchi and her amazing home-made pasta sauce.

    My mum is the same: she can't do Christmas without those Christmas lollies that you get from Safeway. For some reason she associates that with her childhood Christmases.

    And by the by--my parents live in Perth, and I always make a point of stopping by Tudor Lane, too!