I have always associated food with fun, food with family and food with laughter. In our family we spent many a day, night and hours around a kitchen table eating laughing and having fun. I have so many memories that when I start thinking of them all I chuckle to myself and wonder if I have the right words to share these memories so they will make you laugh too.
My mum was always one for making sure a birthday, anniversary or any type of achievement was celebrated. Usually that included food and most always included a cake of some description. They weren’t always well decorated, they usually had a fun decoration or saying on them and sometimes they were even cake. My favourite birthday cake was actually my mums Chocolate Pudding Pie which was made with a Graham Cracker Crust (all my American friends and family know what that is), a packet of Chocolate Pudding mix (for my Australian family and friends this is like a packet custard to you) and of course it had to have whipped cream to go with it!
When I was a teenager my sister and I wanted to do something special for mum and dad for their anniversary. We arranged for them to have a weekend away (romantic) and made a special treat for them to take (still romantic?!). I really don’t know what we were thinking but we made a rice bubble slice with the words Eat Me, Eat Me written on it! There really is no romance to be had in that one but hey it tasted good. I still to this day am not sure what the meaning of it was, what we were thinking (we were teenagers, the brain hasn’t quite fully developed at that stage of life right….) but I do remember laughing a lot when we gave it to them…
Living in America as a youngster we had a lot of convenience style foods that were bought from the grocery store and I will always remember Pillsbury rolls and biscuits. They came in a tube, cardboard wrapped round the dough with metal ends to hold it together. We always wanted to open them as you would hit them square in the middle on the edge of the table and ‘POP’ it would split open, expand and Voila…. Dough! Pillsbury also wrote little paperback cookbooks (of which I have many) and in one of these books was a recipe for a savoury mince dinner with a crescent topping. Mum busied herself in the kitchen making this new and exciting meal for us and we were all getting very excited to try something new. Well….. Mum must have been having a very bad day.. She made the meal, she baked it in the oven, the house was smelling wonderful with the aromas of meat, spices and bread. We were all getting very hungry. Dinner time, ready to eat, no dinner! What went wrong? We could still smell the scent of food but there was nothing on the table. Mum materialised from the kitchen, the smile on her face long gone, no food or love coming our way – just a comment that deflated us and rocked us to the core. “Where is dinner?” we asked, anxious to eat. “Don’t know what you are having for dinner as I know you won’t like what I cooked so I am not serving it!” mum replied (Ok it probably wasn’t those exact words but it would have been close). She had gotten it into her head for some reason that the meal wasn’t going to be any good, we weren’t going to like it so she wasn’t going to give it to us. Well I don’t remember what we had for dinner that night but we did get to try this new meal the following night and it was a favourite of ours for some time after that. We still laugh and tease mum to this day about that episode of ‘What’s for Dinner?”.
I also remember a time back in the early eighties when the food of both Australia and England was quite bland and lack lustre. I had moved to London with a dear friend for a working holiday and we worked and stayed with my friend’s family. One night we went out for dinner with a group of friends, family and workmates. The table was laid nicely, with small plates holding little yellow slices of what my friend thought was cheese. It looked like cheese, it was cut into little wedges like cheese, it was the same colour as cheese, it must have been cheese right?! Well my hungry friend’s eyes alighted on these little yellow morsels and he just couldn’t resist grabbing one and popping it into his mouth. As soon as the ‘cheese’ hit his tongue it started to melt in his mouth just like butter! Oh yeah… That’s right it was butter, not cheese and the look on his face was priceless as they say. He couldn’t just spit it out so he swallowed it down with a cringe on his face and acted as if nothing had happened. The rest of the night went on without a hitch.. Moral of the story “If it’s on a plate all alone and not surrounded by other goodies it is probably butter not cheese”. Funniest thing I have ever seen!
And this is why I love food. You just never know what is going to end up on your table or even in your mouth and you can always guarantee that you will get a laugh at your own or someone else’s expense. Which leads me to another funny food story. Crabs! Don’t you love crabs.
It was my birthday and we were living in Aurora, Colorado. We had a friend who was able to always come up with the goods. No matter what you wanted he knew where to get it. It was like one of those old movies, give the guy an envelope with some cash in it and the next thing you know you had a delivery. Just what you wanted….. Well it wasn’t quite like that but it sounds good. Anyway our friend Don was able to secure a box of fresh crabs for my birthday which was pretty hard to do when you are in a state that is land-locked. So there we were with a foam lined crate filled with live crabs and no dad to help us do this thing correctly. You see my dad was the crab expert from Baltimore, Maryland home of crabs, crab cakes and Old Bay Spice but he was away working at the time. We had to get them out of the box and into the freezer so we could put them to sleep but before we could do that they tried to escape their little prison. They crawled out (not all of them thankfully) of the box and across the floor so we were chasing them around with BBQ tongs trying to catch them. Probably would have worked better had we not been laughing so hard. Tears rolling down the face, laughing and clacking tongs while running around the kitchen, yes it really was hard work trying to keep up with the little blighters. But we got there in the end and we had a fantastic meal of Old Bay Spice Steamed Crabs. Happy Birthday to me! Hehe…
And now before I go I just have one last little food story that I know will make a few people smile especially my family. My mother has always had a fridge full of food, she always had the ability and the ingredients to feed whomever came to our home. And there were many people who came to our home, ate at our table and laughed with us. Now she lives on her own and we are all scattered around the country so she doesn’t get to cook for us as much as she used to but she still loves doing it on a smaller scale these days.
So wouldn’t you think that she would need less food, maybe even a smaller refrigerator? Well think again. When my Aunty and Uncle came to visit us in Australia from their home in Texas my Aunty just couldn’t get over the amount of food my mum had in the fridge. She was so impressed she just had to take a photo… Here is the photo of the fridge of my 80 odd year old mother, one person! Now if this doesn’t make you laugh I don’t know what will.
I hope I have been able to make you smile, maybe even a little laugh and hopefully maybe even making you think of your own funny food memories as that is what it is all about. Food, Fun, Family, friends and laughter of course.
“Laughter is brightest where food is best”