I’ve always wondered what others earliest childhood memories are. It is hard to think back and remember when you were a very young child. Are the memories I have correct or are they the memories of my wildest dreams? Should they be more clear and vivid as I only remember bits and pieces and most of those memories are of traveling with my dads work and living in many wonderful and exciting places. I also remember the food. My mum was and still is a great cook who, lucky for us, catered to our every whim. She was always cooking and cleaning, as with four girls and a dad who worked shift work there was always something to do or someone to feed.
I loved my childhood. There was never a dull moment. And there was always travel, food and fun. Okay the travel may not have been the fun exciting stuff most people think of as it wasn’t a holiday in the true sense of the word but to me it was exciting, sometimes scary and always fun. You see my dad was in the US Air Force and he would get transferred to a new location about every two years. Poor mum would have to pack up the house and us four kids and off we’d go.
Sometimes we would visit our relatives and play with our cousins which was a treat for us. I remember visiting my grandparents in Tennessee (my mothers parents) and our first meal would always be BBQ. No not a BBQ like we have in Australia but American style. Think of the pulled pork and brisket we see today in all the good restaurants in OZ. Well we were eating that way back when (no I’m not telling you how long ago, that would give away my age!) and my mum still makes a wonderful, smoky, saucy version of her own (watch this space as I am currently working on developing her recipe to share with you).
So back to visiting and BBQ. When we went to visit my grandparents in Nashville our first stop was always the local supermarket. We all piled into the station wagon (picture it, big, long, red, yank tank!) and would clamber out at the shops. We couldn’t wait to get in there and headed straight to the deli counter where we would order pork barbecue, coleslaw and of course a huge dill pickle. I can still taste it now, tender pulled meat, smoky, vinegary sauce piled onto a soft slightly sweet roll, topped with creamy coleslaw. As you tried to get it into your mouth it would always dribble down your hands so it was definitely finger liking good as they say!
I also remember when we were on the road the excitement of being able to eat in a restaurant, usually diner style eateries or the restaurants in the hotels we stayed in. The menu always looked exciting and all of us girls wanted everything on the menu. Of course there was never a time when we actually ate everything on our plates and mum knew this. The waiter always had a laugh when the order was in and they would look at mum and say ‘What would you like Ma’am?’. Her reply was always an empty plate and she would then have a little bit of each of ours. Not silly really as she got a bit of everything… Thinking about it now she was the smart one.
When travelling we mostly had cereal for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch. Mum was so prepared and organised she would pack the esky with milk, fruit, cereal, bread, cheese, lunch meat and of course there were potato chips and pickles. It wouldn’t be a proper American lunch without chips and pickles now would it.
I remember the boxes of cereal, the littles ones you get in a pack of I think eight and they are all different ones. They had a perforation on the box so that when you opened it you could poor the milk in and eat the cereal straight out of the box. So advanced even back then.
From time to time we would actually get breakfast in the hotel restaurant and my youngest sister would order a hamburger. Yes she loved hamburgers for breakfast. Mum would always sweetly ask the waiter if the chef could whip one up and they always did. The rest of us girls were boring and liked things like waffles, pancakes and French toast. And mum, well she got the empty plate as per normal.
So life was like this for us. The excitement of traveling from destination to destination, visiting relatives, staying in hotels and eating out, it was such an adventure and so much fun.
When I think about it there are so many more memories of growing up. And quite a few of them revolve around food, the kitchen, family and friends around the dining room table. It makes me smile when I think of all the fun times we had and all the food we ate. I look forward to sharing more stories of life over the years and hope you enjoy reading about my life and enjoy trying some of the recipes I will be sharing with you.
As George Bernard Shaw once said:
“There is no sincerer love than the love of food”