Monday, 23 January 2017

Food Nostalgia

Nostalgia is a strange thing. The other day I woke up and decided I wanted to try to recreate a particular recipe for a food. It was for a sauce I haven’t tried in over 15 years, a sauce I don’t remember ever particularly liking, but one I remember my Grandmother making on many occasions. That morning I woke up able to taste the sauce in my mind and I needed to eat it.

To make things harder I couldn’t really remember the ingredients. I seem to remember it was a garlic and tomato sauce, but with other ingredients too. I’m pretty confident in had green olives in (those salty olives from a jar stuffed with pimento),   I also have a feeling it had cubes of Spam, but I don’t know if that confusion is due to the number of meals my Grandmother made which contained this canned, chopped meat.

I made the sauce and it was nearly right. It was close enough to satisfy my taste buds anyway, but it got me thinking about the other dishes from my childhood that have stuck with me. The two other dishes I think of when I think of my Grandmother are Spam fritters and pork belly strips which were marinaded in a Chinese spiced sauce before being grilled. They might not be wowing you, but my mouth is watering thinking about them. Strangely I can’t even remember what we ate them with, but I can see and smell the belly strips so clearly in my mind it's as if I am looking at them.

Linguine with a tomato sauce with a cube of spam, little bit of green olive and cutlery visible

My Grandmother made the majority of meals for me when I was growing up so it isn’t surprising that there are dishes which have stayed in my memory. As she died 10 years ago taking these recipes with her I doubt I will never really know if my memory of them is accurate.

There are a few other meals which I remember from my childhood and have the urge to recreate every so often: the strawberry Angel Delight my Grandad used to make and Chicken Paprika or Chilli Con Carne made by my Father. Fortunately I can buy Angel Delight in most supermarkets and I have a copy of the chicken recipe. I just need to get my Dad to make me a Chilli and write his recipe down (hint, hint).

I’m sure there were plenty of dishes I was cooked repeatedly when I was young. I don’t know why there are a few that have stayed with me more than the others. I doubt my sister has ever craved any of the dishes above. Food has always been such an important part of my life, both cooking and eating. I cook by taste and feel, using recipes as inspiration rather than instructions to be followed. I love to cook and made my own meals from an early age. Some of my strongest memories involve food. Which makes me wonder…

What will my children remember? Will they have fond memories of the food I make? Will they be sitting in their homes as adults drooling over my roast potatoes, my spaghetti bolognese or my chocolate brownies? Or will they remember the meals on the days when I was uninspired and I cooked something beige from the freezer or bought sausage and chips from the chippie?

A baking tray filled with golden brown roast potatoes

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