Family Food Fare and Favourites
I feel like I’m back in primary school writing “a is for apple, b is like a bat and ball…”.
Today I’m kicking off my A2Z 2021, and over the coming weeks I want to share some of my family’s traditional food fare. Some of the old-time menus will be still around, but much has changed as Australia has become a very multi-cultural and multi-culinary place, thanks to the arrival of its many immigrants.
Back in the day, one of our traditional family desserts was Baked Apples. I confess it was never my favourite food, largely because of the texture of the cooked skin. In our family it was always served with custard made with custard powder, another of my not-favourites.
I suspect many of my generation would have eaten this dish, but perhaps not everyone knows how it was cooked. Apples were cored using a cutter (nothing like the flash ones available today). The hole was then filled with a mix of brown sugar and sultanas or other dried fruit, and perhaps a dash of spice and orange juice. The apples would then be cooked in a shallow layer of water in a baking tray. It was an economical and filling dessert at a time when dessert was always on the evening menu. These days, baked apples still appear in menu items but with fancier additions like ginger, nuts, and perhaps a dash of alcohol.
Earlier in my married life I would make a dish similar to the one I’ve copied here from mum’s recipe book: Apple and Coconut Tart. Since I’ve always loved coconut that was kept on the family menu over the years.
Mum loved apples and always had her favourite types: Jonathans and, more recently, Pink Ladies.
Asparagus was a handy lunch meal – not the fresh-from-the-garden version, but out of a tin. Another of my mother’s favourites (she was the chef!) was a fresh sandwich with tinned asparagus and a dash of pepper[i]. It didn’t work nearly as well as a school lunch, though, because the sandwich would end up soggy.
Tinned asparagus may be tasty enough, but it’s certainly not fresh asparagus, which we would often have steamed as a dinner vegetable. And there was the time when we ordered white asparagus for dinner in Bavaria, and were given a humungous plate of it.
For the past 12 years I’ve been on a FODMAP diet so both apples and asparagus are off the menu. It’s amazing how often apples appear on menus in cafes and restaurants…sigh. I don’t especially miss apples, but having to navigate around them on menus can be tedious. FODMAP may help my innards, but the diet has done nothing for my outer dimensions.
New Food Fare: Avocado has arrived on Aussie menus in a big way – think of the hotly debated, so-called “waste of money” of avo on toast. I confess I’d never laid eyes on an avocado until I worked part-time in a greengrocer/fruit shop as a teen and yet among recipe cards I found this description.
What are your memories of food in your family – then and now?
This morning I was reflecting on my 2018 A2Z adventure about the Top End of Australia and some colloquialisms. I was reminded about the Aussie-isms by a twitter comment the other night, and I know some of my mates are heading up north this year so may be interested. You can check out the links here if travel is of more interest to you than food.
[i] In those far-off days, pepper was powdered and came in a cardboard container. Freshly ground pepper just didn’t seem to be around.