Writing 101: Day 10: Childhood food
(Tell us something about your favourite childhood meal)
I spent most of my childhood in a three bed semi-detached house next door to my maternal grandparents. Our home was surrounded by a large garden with a Sycamore at the front, which showered the grass below in helicopters every spring, while a Weeping Willow at the side provided shade on sunny days.
When I look back at what I used to eat as a child, it’s so funny how different my diet is today. I no longer eat meat for example, and rarely indulge in a dessert. I also never have full-fat milk, which I did back then, especially the cream, which I loved on my cereals in the morning, plus added sugar! It’s fortunate my tastes changed as I got older, and became much healthier. However, I do miss my mum’s delicious apple and rhubarb crumble, and her bread and butter pudding was heavenly. My lunch box was always full of good food. Some days I had a flask of soup, others a chicken leg or a sandwich filled with ham, cheese or egg. There was always a piece of fruit, a yogurt and a Penguin bar, which was a staple part of my diet until I left school.
In the summer, the ice cream van would sing out as all the local children ran indoors to ask for the money to buy a treat. I can remember multi-coloured lollipops, 99s with a Flake and strawberry sauce; layered ice-cream with bubble-gum at the bottom (which I can’t recall the name of) and a Feast, which I loved. Bubble-gum was a frequent purchase with pocket money; in particular Hubba-bubba in apple or strawberry flavour. Summer also meant outdoor eating, and one particular ingredient of those meals was coleslaw; the smell of which always takes me back to having salads in our back garden. Mum loves it, but I can’t stand the stuff. However, the smell reminds me of warm summer evenings, munching salad, cold meats, Branston pickle and new potatoes/chips.
On Saturdays, after we’d returned from food shopping, mum, my younger brother and I would tuck into sausage or fried egg sandwiches, with plenty of tomato sauce. I also went through a phase of eating crisp sandwiches; Quavers being my preferred filling of choice.
Sundays were often spent next door at my grandparents’ house, the smell of a traditional roast permeating through the rooms, out the windows and drifting over the garden to call me inside. Plates were full of roast beef, lamb or chicken, with perfectly crisp roast potatoes and lots of vegetables, including my favourite, mushy peas. Dessert was often an ice cream-wafer sandwich which you had to eat carefully and quickly to avoid it leaking out everywhere. Nan was certainly a bad influence when it came to food, and whenever I went round I’d be offered something sweet, even when I wasn’t supposed to. I really liked Rich tea biscuits with butter on, but never took nan up on her offer of bread and dripping.
I often wonder if I ate something now which I used to as a child, would it instantly re-connect me to that time, but I doubt it. Especially seeing as I don’t like meat now, whereas I loved it as a child. I keep meaning to try and bake an apple and rhubarb crumble, but never get round to it. Not sure it would be the same as it would lack that ‘mum touch’. I guess that’s the key ingredient to a lot of the food and meals I’ve mentioned here, they lack that added extra of having been made by the loving hands of my mum or nan.