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.
Nutrition: In the olden days, our family cooks made sure we ate balanced meals with good nutritional value, even if the meals themselves were uninspired by today’s standards. Our calcium intake came from milk and (cheddar) cheese and soft drinks (soda, pop, lolly water) were drunk infrequently. We may not have had a wide range of vegetables but those we had contained good nutritional value although they frequently had the life: potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, cabbage, peas and beans. Salads included tomatoes, grated carrot and cheese, beetroot and lettuce. Grains came from our cereal and porridge for breakfast rather than from wholemeal bread. Plenty of fruit came into the house: apples, citrus of all sorts, pineapple, bananas. In short, we probably met the requirements of the healthy eating pyramid reasonably well – apart from those desserts and baking treats. We were also far more active since it was unusual for working class families to have cars and we walked – a lot!
Nutmeg was one of the few spices that was used in cooking or baking, along with ground cinnamon, ginger and mixed spice.
One of the dishes that has transitioned between “then” and “now” is a meal we call Nona’s Cheerio Plonk, a dish that has been enjoyed by Mr Cassmob’s family through the generation. It generated some discussion on Facebook because what we call cheerios in Australia (well in Queensland) is not the same as that in the US. Since the whole cheerio thing bewildered my US friends, you can see an image here from Woolworths. They have a different name in Australian states as well: cocktail frankfurts, cheerios or little boys. They are a deli item and don’t come in tins!
There’s no formal recipe but here’s the summary: grease an oven dish, put a layer of sliced onions on the base, layer on the already par-boiled cheerios along with some chopped bacon, top them with slices of tomato and grated cheese. Bake in the oven until the cheese melts and browns a little. It may seem a strange concoction, but the whole family loves it and everyone hooks in.
In the course of this A2Z, we’ve looked at many of the changes that have occurred in our food and meals in Australia over the past decades. The diversity of our meal types and the ingredients have changed significantly. This article from the Australian Women’s Weekly highlights some of the differences we’ve already discussed. I hadn’t thought so much about the size of our meals, but maybe they have become less substantial and generally “lighter” – I’m not sure. I also hadn’t given much thought to fast food outlets as we rarely access them except occasionally when out at the shopping centre and then it’s more likely to be a kebab.
The change in where and how we eat is probably accurate – breakfast and lunch are much more mobile and we’re unlikely to sit down together. Dinner is also likely to be more relaxed with not all family being present.
NEW FOOD FARE
One of my key assessments for a curry restaurant is whether they serve Peshwari Naan which is my absolute favourite (I love the mix of coconut and nuts), while our friends always have garlic naan. Although we have naan at home sometimes, from prepared packs, they’re just not the same.
I was thinking too that Nasi Goreng is associated in my mind with breakfast – or lunch and dinner – ever since our daughter profiled her brekky while in Bali. We both enjoy it and should have it more often as a meal. Asian Noodle meals are very common these days but again, for some unknown reason, noodles aren’t routinely on our menu.
Do you still have a formal weekend meal with family who live nearby and is it expected they come each week?
Is nutmeg a favourite spice or do you prefer others?
Do you think Aussies have a more balanced diet nutritionally, then or now?