Memory food

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One of my favourite things in the world is good food. Not necessarily fancy food, although I am partial to that as an occasional treat, but simple and honest food. I love the layering of taste and texture and that applies equally to something as humble as a piece of toast with salted butter as some fancy restaurant meal.

I am therefore drawn to cookery shows and books like a moth to a flame. I particularly enjoy Nigel Slater’s show where he has a celebrity guest and they cook up food from their past, culminating in what they would choose as their final meal. You can read about Nigel Slater’s Last Supper here.

It always makes me think. I’m pretty sure we all have certain foods or meals that bring back memories and I’d like to spend some time thinking about that. I think Last Supper is too finite and I must admit it blows my mind to try and nail down my favourite food to just one meal, so instead let’s focus on memory food in general and see where it takes us.

I’m not really sure where to start, so I think I’ll start with my first food related memory. It was October 1984, I was 2. I was trying and failing to dunk my burnt toast into a hard boiled egg. I remember looking at the egg and it had those dark crunchy charred crumbs in it, which made it seem even less appetising. I think this is the only meal, if you can call it that, which my dad has ever made me and that must be why it sticks in my memory. I went from looking at my crumby egg to looking outside. It was foggy and uninviting. That is the end of the memory. It lasts a second, if that.

That was the day that my little brother was born.

Interestingly, what doesn’t feature in my memory of that day was getting dressed after breakfast and heading into hospital with my older brother and my dad to meet the new addition to the family. Neither do I remember when, a few days later, the family was reunited back at home.

The rest of those days have slipped away somewhere, like all the other millions of memories we make and lose over a lifetime. Which is why it seems all the more important to try and remind and record those things that we can remember. However mundane, however fleeting. Because that was a snippet of living and that is precious.

So, get your thinking caps on. What are your memory foods? If you would like to take part in this series, you can email me hello {at} lifeofbarbara {dot} com

Posted in: Memory food

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16 Comments

  1. Posted February 11, 2013 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Pickled beetroot sandwiches. I used to get one for the journey home when I visited my paternal grandparents on a Sunday. Even now my grandad offers me one if I go to their house!

    • admin
      Posted February 11, 2013 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      That sounds like something I could get my teeth around. I love anything pickled.

      Pink bread?

  2. Posted February 11, 2013 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    I love this idea! I will have a think…

  3. Posted February 11, 2013 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Ooh, I have lots. I will send you an email later this week! :)

    • admin
      Posted February 11, 2013 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      Fantastic, thank you Lara!

  4. Posted February 11, 2013 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Cheese souffle made by my mum in a large brown casserole dish, I still remember it being the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten with a crispy brown crust. I also have a vivid memory of getting snowed in when we still lived in Redditch, so pre 7, and my mum making homemade bread as we couldn’t get to the shops. I remember how thick and doughy it was and how good it tasted with butter.

    • admin
      Posted February 11, 2013 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      You have just reminded me, I dreamt of cheese soufflés last night. I made individual ones and they turned out perfectly. Maybe I’ve been watching too much Come Dine With Me…? I must get out more.

  5. Amanda M
    Posted February 11, 2013 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    We used to have cheese salad sandwiches (ALWAYS with grated cheese – and beetroot which I hate) and a chocolate cake made by my mum with icing sugar dusted on the top and TINNED cream in the middle (nicer than it sounds) for sunday tea in front of Dr Who. Or high tea at my grandma’s with home-made bread, home-made jam and celery sticks dipped in salt (and other things because that would clearly be an odd combo). Or fishfingers which I loathed – the whole retro fishfinger sandwich craze leaves me cold.

    I think my first food memory is of cake. Figures…

    • admin
      Posted February 11, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      I love that beetroot features in your food memories as well. I’m going to have to eat some for my lunch (sorry Amanda)

      • Amanda M
        Posted February 11, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

        My whole family – with the exception of me – loves beetroot. Shudder.

  6. Posted February 11, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Memory foods? I think I have a few

    1. Spaghetti bolognese – whenever it was my turn to pick the meal I picked this. It was great.
    2. Beef Cambridge – my dad taught me how to cook this with him when I was wee
    3. Chocolate hedgehog cake – my mum made this in a pudding basin and it was our favourite birthday cake we got. I still hope she might make it for my 30th.
    4. Canadian steak – takes me back to being in Banff with M when we realised we were very serious about each other (also Alberta steak is SO good)
    5. Tuna and cucumber sandwiches with salt and vinegar crisps and a banana – this was what my mum put in my packed lunch for about three years
    6. Bagels with spicy chicken – I ate almost nothing but this when I was 15. My dad was into roasting chickens in spices and I was into making bagels with the leftovers.
    7. Hot snowballs – when I was maybe 10 or 11 my excellent Aunt Marie took me to an ice cream parlour in Portobello where they did a sundae with a snowball that was hot in the middle but did not melt the ice cream. The memory makes me feel excited and happy.
    8. Hot coca cola. One day on holiday in Scotland in the cold (apparently it was not actually a holiday but that is how I remember it) we went to a cafe and I was asked what I wanted to drink. I said “Coca-Cola” and my mum insisted I have a hot drink so I asked for hot coca cola, and that is what I had.
    9. One time on a trip back form Scotland I had been hideously car sick and we eventually pulled into a hotel, very late at night and I was extremely hungry. The hotel owner opened the kitchen just for our family and I had a massive plate of roast lamb and mint sauce. It made me feel super special and started a love affair with roast lamb as it really helped me feel so much better.
    10. Blue ribband and caramel wafers and clubs. These were in my Great Aunt Mary’s biscuit tin and they were the best. Washed down with Irn Bru if we were very lucky.

    I think those ten only scratch the surface too! Thank you for such lovely memories! xx

    • admin
      Posted February 11, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      Siobhan, these have made my mouth water. Thank you so much for sharing x

  7. Helen
    Posted February 11, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Memory food? Most definitely smoked fish. We used to go to my Grandma’s once a week to do all of those lovely Grandmay activities, like painting miniature pot houses and ‘paint by numbers’, and they used to have a fish van delivering fresh fish. It seemed like we always had smoked haddock for tea at my Grandma’s, apparently it’s very good for growing children! I will always be reminded of her when I smell smoked fish.

  8. Posted February 11, 2013 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    Nana’s fish paste sandwiches ….and egg custard for pudding ……and once again I am 7

  9. Aimee Rumbold
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Tinned salmon and cucumber rolls with white pepper, my Nan used to make these for tea on a Sunday. Sunday tea was special and she always used bridge rolls cut in half and opened up rather than a normal sliced loaf, she also used vinegar (always and lots of it!) xxx

  10. Posted February 23, 2013 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    My memory food is raspberries. Whenever I eat them they always remind me of my grandparents as we used to go fruit picking with them and pick loads of raspberries. We also used to eat them with loads of sugar poured on top!

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