Food can evoke many memories, especially the smells and the sounds of certain things. It could be the smell of coffee, cinnamon buns or even a roast dinner cooking on a sunday that suddenly brings you to a world of memories.
For me there are many foods/smells which bring back memories to me and also tastes, i can be transported all over the world with the simple sniff of spices or even the smell of a ripe melon.
My relationship with food has been a troubled one over the past few years, growing up it was my staple and the cornerstone of our family, once i left the familial home i struggled and faltered, turning to it for control and comfort purposes. After some time of eating sporadically i stopped eating all together, had it not been for my terrified friends and their desire to keep me alive, i think i would be in a much more sorry state, i still struggle with my appetite when i get anxious but in all honesty i understand that its important and needs to be enjoyed.
The meal i have chosen is the one my grandmother used to cook whenever we went to visit for the weekend, it was the first meal after we got there on friday evening after school/work, more often than not it was the same thing, as it was a long journey for us and my Nanna liked to have everything prepared for when we arrived. To here food was one of the most important things in our lives, having suffered as a refugee in the war she was determined that no one would go hungry in her family and it showed in the way she fed us extensively and with total love, by the end of most weekends i would happily not eat until the next day just because i was so full.
She always made teperto (small hungarian chicken/duck/goose crispy bits like pork scratchings) which was our snack upon arrival we were only allowed a small amount on our shell dishes as she didn’t want us to miss dinner.
Then after a rest dinner would be served…Shepherds pie (as she called it although technically it was cottage pie as she used beef bless her) and it was the best, she made this for us because she thought that my mother did and wanted us to have something familiar (the truth is mum was terrible at this dish and never made it but we didn’t have the heart to tell Nanna that). We would have it with pickled vegetables and peas and sweetcorn. For dessert we would normally have some kind of cheesecake or Viennetta ice cream for ease, my Nanna wasn’t normally a big dessert chef unless it was a special occasion or possibly saturday night dinner.
To me it wasn’t just the taste or the smell it was the concept of us all sitting down and sharing together as a family, and i know thats what Nanna wanted as well, we have a long tradition in our family of sharing meals and it shows through how close we are.
Since we stopped going up to see my grandparents on a friday night it meant that the traditional friday night meal stopped as Nanna always had time on a saturday morning to cook something more elaborate.
Although this meal isn’t a ‘celebration’ in the traditional sense of the word, my grandparents adored us visiting and would always roll out the red carpet for us, they always celebrated with my parents (both together and individually after they divorced) with a bottle of sparkling hungarian wine or as close as they could get, my Nanna being Hungarian these little details mattered to her and we all noticed and appreciated them.