Family Food Fare and Favourites
Join me as I dig through my memories, and recipes, to rediscover my family’s food “back in the day” and how those food habits have changed over the decades to today’s diverse and multi-cultural cuisines. This is my theme for the 2021 A to Z challenge.
When I think of my childhood days, the only “I” foods that leap to mind are Iceberg Lettuce (then just called lettuce), and Ice Cream or Ice Blocks.
What could be better than a frozen delight on a hot Brisbane’s summers day as the mercury climbs? I have fond memories of having Coconut Ice Blocks, in a glass or cup, while sitting in a shady spot in the garden. I made them for my children too when they were little, and, I think, for a couple of my grandchildren.
Ice Cream wasn’t available in such diverse quality or flavours as it is today: pretty much vanilla, strawberry and chocolate. Both Mr Cassmob’s mother and mine had recipes for making their own vanilla ice cream. Bearing in mind there were no ice-cream making gadgets then, it was a labour of love to make it. Of course as we got older the Mr Whippy van would drive around playing Greensleeves and hoping to get business. Talk about Pavlovian responses (smile).
A family quote our children will remember from their grandparents: Mum to dad “do you want custard, cream or ice cream“. His response was always “yes please“. Given how many miles he walked every day at work he could afford to have all three and not worry about his weight.
I found this recipe for a Raspberry Ice Cream dessert among mum’s collection but I have no recollection of it ever being made. Probably like most of us, she’d collected the recipe then decided it was too much bother.
Struggling to come up with an “I-name” food we’ve eaten in recent years I consulted the current chef whose helpful reply was “I don’t know” then “we’ve never made iguana soup”. Thus supported, diverted or frustrated, I had another trawl through my recipes and came up with these two: Indonesian Salad or Gado Gado, and Ikan Tjumi Tjumi Pakai (stuffed squid). In our early married days I made the stuffed squid a few times but I confess it all seems like too much bother these days and have only made it once or twice since.
Stupidly, my mind had been focused on individual dishes not overall cuisines. Like most people in post-war Australia, we had increasing exposure to Italian cuisine and as my best friend for many years in my teens was Italian, I learned a little about her meals. I do enjoy Italian food, but with my current allergy to rosemary, I have to be super-careful what I order. As a result, it’s probably the food type we eat the least.
Being the dessert-a-holic that I am, there were more icy desserts to be found. One of my favourites is Lemon and Pistachio Sherbert with Strawberries. I’m pretty sure my recipe came from Gourmet Traveller magazine to which I used to subscribe, but an online search confirms this one is the same. Trawling the online recipes, I wondered why I’d never made Iles Flottantes and I can only assume it was because of the custard “base”.
And if, like me, you’re none too sure about what the difference is between the various icy treats, this link is helpful. I have to say I’m pleased mum had never heard of frozen custard, and Aussies didn’t have a clue about yoghurt back in the day.
Another icy treat I enjoy on hot summer’s days is Iced Decaf Latte – it’s my go-to drink when out and about, and my local coffee shop is happy to make it in the chiller Yeti cup I got for my birthday. Winner!
NEW FOOD FARE: It’s fair to say, I think, that the only kind of lettuce we knew of in those distant days was Iceberg Lettuce. Now we have a proliferation of varieties to choose between, depending on palate and need. Travel and our post-war migration has certainly expanded our diets to include ingredients and meals unknown when I was a child.
Gadgets: My ice-cream maker used to get regular use when we had dinner parties more often but now it languishes in the bottom of a cupboard. I do remember a “gadget” in my grandmother’s kitchen – the icebox that preceded the refrigerator. I also remember the ice man coming along the street with slabs of ice that fitted in the top of the icebox.
Was Iguana on your family’s menu? Just joking!
Have Italian or Indonesian cuisines taken over your family’s meals? Did you have either as a child?
What culinary style is your favourite?
Do you love icy treats? Are they something you make at home or buy at the supermarket?