I love food. For me, trying new foods and eating old favourites is really enjoyable.
The thing with food is that it creates strong memories. A certain dish will remind us of “that time”, or “that place”. We will eat certain things with certain people. Food can surprise us, fill us, entertain us and excite us. Soon enough, food becomes not simply nice tasting nutrition, but a memory, a moment and an adventure.
A lot of my key food memories come from various holidays around the world. I love the variety of food we have from every corner of the globe; food is something that brings all of us together under its tantalising, sustaining fingers.
Paris holds many food memories for me. We were there for two short days, and spent nearly the whole time eating. At midnight our first night, we sat and watched the Eiffel Tower light up while eating our warm crepes we had ordered from a cart. I’m not sure if the location influenced my memory, but from what I recollect, they were the most delicious crepes I think I will eat in my life. Think banana, Nutella and fresh crepes… mmm.
The next day for lunch, we stopped in the Jewish Quarter for falafel. In the tight square, I think there may have been three falafel restaurants. Picking the one with the longest lineup of locals (L’As du Fallafel), we ordered, received our overstuffed pita pockets from the window, and sat ourselves down with our backs to a shop wall. Maybe one day the memory of the incredible tastes will fade away, but the memory of the experience won’t ever.
I could go on and on about the food of Paris: garlicky snails, macaroons on a clandestine mission to buy mum’s birthday present, and amazing pastries. Mmm…
We go to Adelaide about once a year to visit my great-grandparents, and every time, we eagerly anticipate going to Adelaide Central Market to stuff ourselves with good quality food. We wander the aisles with packets of cold meats and loaves of freshly baked bread under our arms, searching for samples of fine cheeses and fresh fruit. Our visit to the market is never complete without piroshki, a type of Russian pie. As good food often is, it is very simple (but time-consuming to make), with a warm, greasy pastry holding peppery beef. Maybe I have had it somewhere other than the market, but for me, piroshki is almost synonymous with Adelaide Central Market.
My family frequently have salad wraps for lunch, and we cannot eat them without thinking of my Uncle Nathan. We introduced him to the ‘phenomenon’ of meat-less wraps several years ago, and now every wrap made by him is a gourmet arrangement.
My friends and I have semi-frequent picnics at school, where we each bring in something and sit under the trees at lunch-time. This results in a lot of food, sugar and laughs. We always go back into the next class extremely cheery. 🙂
Food definitely gives us a lot to reminisce about: “Do you remember when we struggled through those Quakeshakes at Donut King?” (my cousin and I underestimated the size of those monsters and have vowed never to have them again until we’re at least 18). “Do you remember when we were camping and ate bug nachos?” (there were swarms of various insects around that night, and we gave up on picking them out of our food). “Do you remember when we were little and stayed up until ten cooking chicken for mum and dad?” (we would have been 6 and 7, and my sister and I wanted to cook cheese-on-toast, chicken wings and banana splits for mum and dad’s dinner).
It is also easy to bond, and have a good time together over food. I think maybe because it is a key part of all of our lives, and we can all enjoy it. Whether it’s making the food, or eating it, I reckon it’s a pretty good reason to spend time with someone.
With that in mind, I think of time spent cooking with my Nan. She’s an excellent cook, and while I don’t have the same enthusiasm for cooking as my sister, Gabby, I feel I learn a lot when Nan teaches me to cook. When she visits us, she works hard to stock our freezer full of baked goods and meals. We get home from school to find her hard at work in the kitchen, perhaps with the first blini to test. We then get to help out; assembling pelemeni (Russian dumplings), stuffing apple turnovers, stirring borscht. On a weekend, we might take turns making jam, slices, pies and cakes. And so, the making of the food becomes an opportunity to spend time with Nan; learning how to cook, while listening to the stories she has to tell. And then of course, we all get to enjoy the end product. ?
I think it’s quite cool how we can enjoy food not only for its taste, but for the experience. It makes what could be simply a one-off thrill a long lasting memory.