The Occasional Epicure

Occasional updates on my eating and cooking adventures...

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Childhood food memories - meme

How exciting! I have been tagged for my first meme and now I feel like a certified, real blogger! And even more exciting, I was tagged by AugustusGloop from Grab Your Fork who was tagged by the Adam the Amateur Gourmet who was tagged by Clotilde of Chocolate and Zucchini (probably the most famous food blogger of all - she was even included in TIME Magazine's 50 coolest blogs!)!

Anyway, enough of the "!" and on with the meme. Growing up on Queensland's Sunshine Coast hinterland meant that I was surrounded by plantations of sugar cane, Macadamia nuts, avocados and pineapples (including really big ones).

Funnily enough, none of these local agricultural goings-on really had much impact on my childhood food consumption.

Instead, let me tell you about my most significant memories surrounding food.

1. Cheezels

OK, I'm starting out with a story that I hardly remember myself, but I've heard it so many times from my mother that I can picture it in my mind anyway.

When I was born in the late 70s my parents were kind of hippy idealists. I'm not quite sure how to describe them, but they didn't want my brother and I watching "American garbage" on we didn't have a TV. They didn't want us drinking soft drink and eating junk I tasted McDonald's only once before I was 17.

At my cousin's birthday party when I was two or three there was the usual junk food selection spread across a table. Apparently I stood there, dumbstruck, looking at a bowl of Cheezels. I asked my mum, "What's that?" to which she replied, "Some people say it's food." So I picked one up and popped it in my mouth. I obviously liked what I tasted, because after all the other kids helped themselves to some snacks and ran off to play in the garden I stood there putting a Cheezel on each finger and then eating them one by one, totally mesmerised by the colour, the texture, and (most likely) the salt!

I still love them!

2. The lettuce leaf

My mum was big into feeding my brother and I a healthy diet. She seemed to have a "no negotiation" policy when it came to finishing our veges at dinner time. We had to eat everything on our plate before we were allowed to leave the dinner table.

I always hated lettuce. Even now I'm not a fan. On one particular occasion I had finished everything else on my plate except one lettuce leaf. I really didn't want to eat it! It was a horrible brown mignonette lettuce! I couldn't bear the thought! I didn't like the flavour, the colour or the texture!

So I sat there and looked at it. My mum sat there and looked at me. I thought I could get away with it. But there were no exemptions from the "finish your veges before you leave the table" rule. This lasted for half an hour. I couldn't win. I ate the lettuce and I was finally allowed to go.

3. Eating sugar

Back when I was little, I used to eat sugar straight from the sugarbowl, which was kept on the shelf next to the teabags and the tin of instant coffee. It was raw sugar - nice and crunchy!

The year was 1986. I was eight. Don't ask me why now, but my mum and I were really keen to go and see Elton John in concert in Brisbane. We had been putting our spare coins aside in a jar to save up for our tickets. Then one day I was in the kitchen helping myself to another serving of sugar and got busted by my mum who really hit the roof! She said, "That's it! I've warned you before and now we're not going to see Elton John!" And she took the jar and all my hard-earned coins away. I was devastated!

In the end we did end up going to see Elton John. It was my first concert and I remember having a fantastic time. I don't eat sugar like that anymore.

4. Mum and the sweetened condensed milk

By now you might be thinking that my mum was very strict and tough. Of course, she just had our best interests at heart and was doing what mums need to do to keep their vege-hating, sugar-scoffing kids in line. Now we're the best of friends.

One day, I realised that - in addition to being my mother - my mum was a normal person too. Innocently wandering towards the fridge one day I saw that my mum was standing there with the door open. Not that unusual, as the was the only cook in the household. What was unusual and made my eyes light up was the fact that in one hand she was holding a tin of Sweetened Condensed Milk and in the other hand was a teaspoon. I couldn't believe my eyes! My mum was eating Sweetened Condensed Milk straight out of the tin! When she saw me, her face took on the same super guilty look that I probably sported when I got busted eating sugar.

5. Hog's Breath Steak

This event took place after I had technically left my "childhood", although my culinary appreciation was still in its infancy. I was 18 when I first visited the Hog's Breath Cafe in Airlie Beach. I ate the Hickory Smoked Prime Rib.

I was amazed. Until that day, "steak" had just been the meat in the "meat and three veg", less than 1cm thick and often coated with pepper. Hog's Breath was responsible for making me understand just how tender and delicious steak can be. I've never looked back!

Who's next?
I'd like to hear about the childhood food memories of:
Fanny from foodbeam - I'm sure she's got plenty of yummy French food memories to share
Barbara from winosandfoodies - an Aussie wine-lover in New Zealand
Pseudo Chef from Cook & Eat - a food and cat fan from Perth


  • At 1:37 pm, Anonymous Barbara said…

    Gosh Kelly this is the first time I've been tagged by anybody for anything and it comes with royal lineage in food blogging land! I'm honoured.

  • At 2:00 pm, Anonymous augustusgloop said…

    What a great collection of memories!

    I never ate sugar out of the sugar bowl but we used to make sugar sandwiches all the time. Just like in The Breakfast Club (except we didn't add our dandruff as well!). We would eat Milo out of the tin though when we were desperate for chocolate.

    I love sweetened condensed milk!Spread thickly on soft white bread. Mmmm.....

  • At 2:31 pm, Blogger Kelly said…

    Hi Barbara, it was my first time too and I also felt pretty special :) Hope you enjoy sifting through your memories and cooking up some good stories to share!

    Hi AG, good Lord! Sweetened condensed milk on sandwiches! Next you'll be telling me you keep a tube in your desk drawer for sugar emergencies... :)

    My mum only buys Milo in small tins because she knows if she has a big one in the pantry she'll eat it all! When I'm mixing one up I always eat a spoonful after I've put the two heaped teaspoons in the glass! (It's obviously genetic, and I can't help it!)

  • At 7:10 pm, Anonymous joey said…

    Hi Kelly! What a great and funny bunch of memories :-) Sweetened condensed milk is pretty popular around here too, especially in pan de sal (a local bread)...

  • At 11:39 am, Blogger Kelly said…

    Hi Joey, thanks for dropping by! It seems like sweetened condensed milk is popular everywhere :) I've never had it on a sandwich, but I can see that I will have to try it out. For research purposes, of course!

  • At 12:03 pm, Blogger Venitha said…

    Ah, sugar straight from the bowl.

    Growing up in Wisconsin in the USA, June was strawberry season. Pick strawberries from the patch in the garden, wash them off in the sink, and while they're still wet, dip them directly into the sugar bowl to cover them with as much sugar as possible before popping them into your mouth. Then once your strawberries are gone, take a spoon and eat up all the sugar in the bowl that's turned red from the strawberries.

    I was 18 before I realized that strawberries were sweet enough on their own that you didn't need sugar!

  • At 10:06 am, Blogger Kelly said…

    Hi Venitha, strawberries dipped in sugar! That sounds kind of fun ;)

  • At 11:36 am, Blogger Niki said…

    Oh dear, I was tagged for this weeks? months? ago. I really need to think about it!
    On a totally unrelated note - I noticed in your profile that one of your favourite books is The Poison Principle, which I read last Christmas! A. found it on the bookshelf of an Aussie friend living in Germany, and didn't quite finish it before he had to travel on, so he bought it for Christmas. It's very interesting, isnt' it? I don't think it's particularly well-written (a bit clumsy and verbose) but the content is fascinating.

  • At 12:03 pm, Blogger Kelly said…

    Hi Niki, I absolutely loved The Poison Principle. I thought the way she structured the book - the alternation of the "story" and "factual" chapters - made it really fascinating. I guess as a scientist she probably erred on the verbose side to get all the facts across :)

    I loved it so much I wrote the author a letter and she sent me back a Christmas card!

  • At 1:37 pm, Blogger violet said…

    ohhhh sweetened condensed milk... especially boiled all day on the stove.

  • At 7:16 pm, Anonymous suze said…

    hee the big pineapple! that brings back memories of road trips with the family ending in slices of fresh juicy pineapple... and mm condensed milk i used to squeeze a whole tube into my bowl of cereal...

  • At 9:13 pm, Blogger Kelly said…

    Hi Violet and Suze, I never realised so many people loved sweetened condensed milk! :)

  • At 3:39 pm, Anonymous augustusgloop said…

    I am AG. I have a whole pantry of goodies in the cupboard at work! I kid you not. Our office could make do as a bomb shelter for a couple of weeks at least!

    And you should definitely try condensed milk on soft white bread. Sunblest or atank loaf. It's goood.

    I hear you on the Milo thing. I love dumping a spoonful on top of my Milo milk before it goes into the microwave. It melts and goes all gooey.

  • At 1:22 pm, Blogger Kelly said…

    Hey AG, I'll put sweetened condensed milk on my shopping list. I have to try one of these sandwiches!

  • At 11:36 pm, Blogger Fanny said…

    Hi Kelly excuse for being so late. I was sure i already posted you a little thank you. Actually as soon as all my food memeories will be in my camera i'll post. Thank you so much for choosing me.

  • At 2:31 pm, Blogger Kelly said…

    Hi Fanny, don't worry about the delay - it's no problem :) Looking forward to seeing your French food memories!

  • At 6:03 am, Blogger english cath said…

    Just had a discussion with my eldest daughter, who at 17 is very worldly wise and sophisticated(she thinks!), and the subject of condensed milk sandwiches came up. I bet her that if I typed Condensed milk sandwiches into a search engine, something would come up. She said the computer would just go yuk, you're disgusting!!! 336,00 was the total I got back from Google, so who's the wise one now? I can appreciate your mum eating condensed milk straight from the tin, I eat it straight from the tube, make sandwiches with it or spread it on toast-yum!! Good to know I'm not the only one in the world.



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