I’m fortunate to be surrounded by good, kind men.
There’s one I haven’t seen in the flesh for years, but it feels like we caught up yesterday thanks to Facebook.
He and I were cadet journalists at The Newcastle Herald together decades ago.
His name is Scott Pilgrim and when he’s not helping manage a large NFP care organisation that offers hope to people living with disadvantage, or parenting his “Brady Bunch” family with eight children aged from 24 to two, he writes a blog called The Blogging Pilgrim.
His blog hopes “to capture the joy, beauty, uncertainty, messiness and mystery of life.”
Yesterday it took a walk down culinary memory lane, reminiscing about the bland food of our childhoods and the marvel that is the diet of our kids.
He was inspired by his family’s latest favourite food, a Korean snack called a “bao” that I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never tried.
As he sat in Sydney’s Night Noodle Market, he noted: “I was thinking about how much our culinary options have changed in Australia in my lifetime and how richer my palate is today compared to growing up in a predominantly meat and three-veg household in Newcastle in the 1970s and 80s.”
He also recalled “eating out wasn’t a common experience for me as a child.”
I think that was pretty standard for most Newcastle upbringings. Italian or “Australian” Chinese food was about as adventurous as eating our got, though many kids didn’t even try that. I remember taking one bloke for his first Italian meal when he was 20!
In our house we ate chops and three veg most nights of the week – which I hated – with the occasional spag bol or fish fingers or “savoury mince” as a treat.
Saturday night was invariably KFC time.
Some weekends we’d grab burgers or fish and chips and head to a park for lunch.
Occasionally we’d go to dinner at the House of the Rising Sun in The Junction for honey king prawns, combination omelette, chicken satay and mongolian lamb with a large serve of fried rice.
Scott recalls his dad’s favourite “Chinese” meal being curried prawns made with Keens curry powder and milk!
Like Scott, it’s a very different story for my kids. From the moment I was pregnant with my first child, I started planning her culinary adventures. We were going to do the alphabet of cuisines, organising days where we learned about a country then visited a restaurant featuring the food for lunch or dinner.
We started at A for Austrian, moved on to B for Brazilian, C for Chinese, D for Danish, E for Egyptian … Life and a crumbling marriage got in the way of the rest.
As a toddler, the eldest would beg for “Tiger food” for dinner – she’d misheard us saying “Thai food”.
These days, the kids’ favourite restaurant meals are Malaysian curry and roti, yum cha, stir-fried rice cake from the local Shanghai noodle house, rice paper rolls …
Lucky us to live in a neighbourhood that provides delicious versions of them all!
Dinners at home are equally exotic. My ex has turned gourmet chef and even makes his own curry pastes and XO sauce from scratch.
And I’m about to put a beef madras in the slow cooker for their dinner tonight … Actually, better get onto that … Thank you for the food memories, Scott!
What’s the dish your mum made most when you were growing up?
Song of the day: Simple Minds “Don’t you forget about me”