Dolly Mixtures, Sherbert Dip Dabs, Spangles, Walnut Whips, sticky toffee pudding, Grandma’s roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, rhubarb crumble, rice pudding, rabbit pie, Spam… What foods evoke days gone by for you?
Our sense of taste is inextricably linked to our memory. A special dish or a distinctive flavour can take us by surprise as it instantly transports us to the past. This is perhaps why so many of us love to cook dishes from our childhood for our own children. Through delicious food, we are trying to create happy memories for them to return to one day.
Below is a selection of some of our favourite food memories from our clients:
When we became tired, Maud and I climbed on to the top of a jeep with a canvas top. We were lying there when some American soldiers turned up and informed us that it was their jeep. They asked us what we hadn’t had during the war and we said “Pineapple!”, so they went away and came back with a tin of pineapple from somewhere. They didn’t have a can opener, so they prodded the tin open with a penknife and handed these pineapple chunks round to everyone. That first taste of pineapple was like the food of the gods, and it’s still one of my favourite flavours. (© Elizabeth Osborn 2007)
I loved dried egg. Whale meat was served for a school meal — extremely chewy and not very appetising. There were a few food items that I liked and still buy, including Spam. I have tried to find dried egg but could not find a product that had the taste I remember. (© Rex North 2014)
A favourite dish of mine was Mother’s rabbit pie. After I had provided the fresh animal, Mother would deftly skin it, chop it up and immerse it in a pot of boiling water, all under the watchful eye of the cat, who was always ready to accept the leftovers. Combined with vegetables fresh from the garden, and a very crisp pastry topping, this was a meal to be savoured, and when it came out of the oven with it’s little chimney spouting steam, we knew that we were in for a treat. (© Sally Kendall 2008)
We were not allowed to waste food for the simple reason that our parents could afford to buy very little. When my mum got a loaf of bread she would give one of my hungry sisters or me the ‘knobbler’ to eat. This was what we called the end piece of the loaf. My mum made sure that she was fair and we each got a turn at having the knobbler. Whenever I was the lucky one who received this meagre piece of bread, I would eat around the edges and take tiny bites of it so that I could make it last for as long as possible. (© June Sault 2010)
The Bastible Oven
It was lovely to come home to our house because it would smell of hot soda bread or cakes. My mother would make mouth-watering griddle cakes in a frying pan over the fire. The soda bread was cooked in a bastible oven. This looked like a witch’s cauldron, a little iron pot with three legs. A lump of hot peat would be taken from the fire and put on the hearth. The oven would sit on top of it with the soda bread inside or an apple tart or a rabbit or two, cut up to fit. When the food was safely inside the bastible oven, a lid would be put on top and another piece of peat would be placed on to the lid. This method meant that the food cooked from the top and the bottom. The soda bread came out crispy and delicious. (© Ellen Philomena Hayes 2014)