always the answer.
My mother says you should eat to live, not live to eat. my Mother is wrong, she’s also a hypocrite. Food is more than nourishment to my family most of, if not all of, my childhood memories either take place in a kitchen or involve food in one way or another. I remember baking cakes with my mother but being too afraid to lick the bowl afterwards because I was a very neurotic child and I’d learnt what salmonella was way too young, I remember making golden syrup dumplings on the night my sister and father were attacked by a dog, and I remember starting a living room war when I dropped an ice cream right on my mothers face that resulted in a full fledged food fight. These memories I revisit every time I eat the food associated with the moment, it’s my favourite thing about food. It’s a gift thats been passed down from my mother, the ability to transport myself backwards in time, from whatever present moment I want to escape.
So this post is a sort of an indirect way of thanking my mother through as much self indulgent waffling as I can muster.
One of my favourite stories my mother tells (on regular occasions) is one about a christmas dinner. It was one of her first Christmas days in Australia. She’s moved over there with my dad and all of his family, but sadly left her own family back in the UK. So the story goes that she was preparing Christmas dinner for my Dads family and I’m sure she’d been prepping for days because she always does for Christmas. Christmas day came and she started the early morning cooking, and had a couple of drinks (food comes second only to Alcohol in my family). Her family telephoned her in the morning and there’s a time difference so they we’re probably having a few evening drinks while my Mother cooked. She says that all the food was on time and everything was looking good so she relaxed on the phone a little before the meal was ready. My Dad took drinks to her while he entertained his own family and so good old Mamma god a bit merry. Anyway she finished up on the phone and called everyone through for food, everyone was seated and my mother began to bring through platters of vegetables, fountains of gravy, and more homemade stuffing than you can imagine (this woman spends hours grating bread for her stuffing, and it’s incredible). Everyone sat eagerly waiting the show stopper, and poor sozzled Mam started to plate up the food completely oblivious to elephant in the room, or more so the lack of the elephant in the room. She’s forgotten all about the meat. And a very Merry Vegie Christmas was had that year.
The reason I’m sharing that story is because thats always been her approach to food, and it’s been passed onto me. Cooking shouldn’t be stressful, it’s to be enjoyed, and the worst that can happen is that it doesn’t work out. This Christmas story reminds me that food is as much about nutritional nourishment as it is about crafting a moment with someone, creating a memory, and an experience. I cook every day and I’m not going to pretend that every meal or snack is a masterpiece nor do I believe that everything I eat takes me to that beautiful nostalgic place. But there’s certain things that do bring a flush of colour to my cheeks as I cook, I love baking bread, the whole process is indulgent, and childlike. You’re basically playing with Play-doh that you’re actually encouraged to eat! I’m also happy to admit that no matter how many loafs of bread I make, no matter how old I get, or how much better than my mother I think I am, I still hear her motherly words of wisdom with every loaf,
“Kneed it for longer”
“Don’t add all the water yet, remember you can always add more if you need it, but you can’t take it away”
ET VIOLÀ!! I’m five years old again and my Mother is teaching me how to make tasty bread, and everlasting memories.
So Bon Appétit Mother, and Thanks for the grubb!