Our beautiful Muscovy Duck, Florence.
Concrete jungle. The sound of trains and buses hurriedly piling in robots, on their way to mechanical day jobs. It feels as though we have arrived in Lego Land, the houses are all the same. Fake grass for as far as the eye can see and it feels like plastic bags scrunching underfoot.
Supermarkets jam packed with people making purchase for their boxed, wrapped and canned goods. Usually the more processing the ‘food’ has been through the better. Sugary snacks, frozen dinners, fluffy white bread and stuff to spread on it which has more ingredients than my bottle of household cleaner.
Gritty dirt beneath my feet. Moist, cool foggy mist hitting my face like a slap as I slide open the glass door. Fresh and cold enters my nostrils and filling my lungs as I look around me. There is snow on the mountain today.
I dip my hands into the soil as I decide what will be for dinner tonight. It is cold and damp and my duck is watching me in the hope I will uncover a nice surprise. She scoots over, tail flapping as she catches sight of something wriggling under an overturned stone. Yum breakfast!
I get up and decide to let the chooks out for a play this morning. There are plenty of eggs today, good girls! We all know what happens when you stop pulling your weight!
I open the fridge. How long do eggs keep? I am not used to buying and storing them after they have been stored for whoever knows how long.
Ahh food. What happened?
I often think back to the days of my grandparents and when they were young. Obviously I only have their memories to rely upon and as a child loved to hear about how they ate as they grew up.
I had a mixed bag of influence in my younger days. My mother was born to a conservative couple who went to church on a Sunday, did everything by the book and ate chops and 3 veg. My grandmother tells stories of her life spent on Bruny Island, gutting locally caught fish from the jetty. Gutting fish and chopping the heads off chickens were all in a days work for the average woman then. The old wooden jetty is no longer there. Instead it has been replaced by a steel contraption purpose built for tourist boats and catamarans.
My father’s father migrated from the small country of Albania and relied upon the good of the land and the fruit of his labour to ensure food was on the table each night. I love the story of him being refused entry to the Royal Hobart show after a time as he was ‘too good’ and other food vans were kicking up a stink. I don’t know why they were so upset; he usually sold out by 11am!
I also love that he brought a whole new world of food to my mother. You can imagine the shock value of a pickled olive after the bland boiled meals she’d been exposed to in her 16 whole years of life before meeting my father. My father’s mother was very poor and badly treated by her aunt who brought her up along with her brothers and sisters. Food was rare in her early days and as a result, delighted in the act of force feeding. Although I do laugh that once, not long after my grandparents were married, my grandfather went to check on a lovely wheel of maturing cheese in the shed. Only it had disappeared! My grandmother had thrown it in the rubbish because she thought the mould on it meant it had ‘gone off’! I squealed with laughter at her impersonation of him trying to contain his anger and disappointment. I never got the chance to meet my grandfather. He died when dad was only 21, the same year he married my mother. I arrived 5 years later.
I would once a week walk to Nan’s house after I had finished school to be greeted with a plate full of tomato sandwiches with plenty of black pepper and still cold from the fridge. Precisely 90 minutes later and during an episode of whatever game show had Larry Emdur back then, dinner would be served. Generally a plate of meat, marinated in something alcoholic and vegetables done in different ways with gravy or white sauce. Half way through my meal I would have dessert plonked down in front of me and I would look at it greedily, praying after I had eaten all of my dinner (as was expected) that I wouldn’t be too full to enjoy it. Usually I was too full but it didn’t stop me from eating it. There were usually 3 types of desserts on offer at Nan’s house although not all at the same time. However, should that have been the case I would not have been surprised. The 3 desserts I came to expect were: Chocolate Mousse with candied oranges, Jelly with custard and cream (the jelly always had a thick layer of ‘lollified’ sugar on the base) or stewed peaches and ice-cream. It was great. I loved my afternoons with Nan. This is where my passion for food began.
This blog is a tribute to food. From my past in Tasmania, my travels and my life here in Perth.
I want this blog to help me connect with like minded people who can help me with our ‘eat local’ mentality. It is so difficult when you move to a new place to find people near by who might be willing to trade a cake for some fresh eggs! And maybe share a secret or two from their kitchen 🙂