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.
Those days of yore were replete with examples of S food.
My mother was a dab hand with Sponges – lovely and light, layered with cream and topped with cream and fresh strawberries. They were her culinary forte and something I really miss. If only I could make them half as well as she did, and no, having her recipe makes no difference.
Shortbread was something we made every Christmas from a recipe of my Scottish paternal grandmother’s. Intriguingly I’ve learned from Trove that her Scottish grandfather, Stephen Gillespie Melvin, also sold shortbread in his pastry shops in Charters Towers and Ipswich.
Mum and I went to Butter Marketing Board Cooking classes when I was perhaps in my early teens or a bit younger. To my delight I was able to make excellent, light scones. Sadly, this is a skill that’s deserted me over the years since – too heavy-handed I fear.
Tinned sardines would appear on my school sandwiches, especially on Fridays, when if I was lucky I’d be able to get a packet of potato chips/crisps to add to the sanger. Sounds weird, but I enjoyed them.
Wintertime brought mum’s soups to the fore. There wasn’t a lot of variety but they were warm and very filling especially her pea and ham soup. The colder weather was also the cue for different desserts and steamed puddings would enter the nightly menu. I really enjoyed them and in a way I wonder why I’ve never made them myself. Maybe because I’ve spent 30 odd years in the tropics? Perhaps I’ll give one a try as the weather gets colder this year.
Many of these old recipes and meals appear on our menus today albeit in different flavours.
Scones are a great taste treat for occasional morning or afternoon tea and a key part of the High Teas that we occasionally enjoy for birthdays.
Similarly, we regularly have salads but they’re vastly different from the lettuce, tomato, cheese versions back in the day. Among our favourites is a Spanish Rice Salad.
Soups include the “oldies but goldies” like pea and ham, but have diversified to cauliflower and blue cheese, seafood chowder, tomato and orange, pumpkin, and this week, mulligatawny. We both have a loved memory of the amazing New England seafood chowder that we ate at Ogunquit, Maine nearly 30 years ago. I’m not sure anything will ever quite live up to that standard.
Shortbread remains a Christmas treat that gets made almost every year. One particular year it was my morning tea every day for work because it included permitted food. When you make it often, it does help you to know exactly when it’s ready to take out of the oven…neither too firm or too soft.
NEW FOOD FARE
Scallops aren’t exactly new, but we never had them when I was a child. I simply can’t resist them when I see them on a restaurant menu -they’re among my favourite foods. We had a memorable meal of hand-dived scallops on the Island of Mull when visiting Scotland one year. They were scallops on steroids. And then the memorable Christmas entree we had in Tasmania in 2008 with scallops, pureed cauliflower and olive tapenade, thanks to our daughter the chef, and the sous-chef (me).
While I will eat Spinach if it’s put in front of me, it’s not something we seek out or use in our day-to-day cooking, and neither did mum.
Spices in my youth were limited mostly to ginger, cinnamon and mixed spice. These days our spice cupboard bulges with a vast variety of spices to mix and match, especially for curries. Is there much better than the smell of spices added to food?
Back in the day, sausages came in pork or beef. Now a local butcher uses Bangalow Pork and adds exotic ingredients like chocolate – believe it or not, they taste great! And then there are satays which are always delicious. And the introduction of salami with our Mediterranean immigrants.
Have we got it good or what?
Which of these foods do you like best?
Do you cook scones or sponges or steamed puddings?
What’s your favourite seafood to eat?