Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Personal History of Food

Published: 29th January 2011

Have you ever thought about the foods that made an impression in your life? The food that brings back memories of a celebration, a holiday or a warm fuzzy family feeling? I found an article about this once and thought it interesting to reflect on the foods that have been significant in my life’s journey – thus far. So I made a list of the ten most momentous meals I have experienced and found quite a history story unfold. I won’t go into the whole list but here’s a few of my food eureka moments.

Many years ago a Gianni, a young Italian man who worked for my father came to our house for dinner – that is, he cooked it! It was my first taste of Spaghetti Bolognaise and it was ‘Bellisimo’! Italians and Australian didn’t really integrate in these days but fortunately he taught the whole family how to cook and opened our eyes to Italian produce shops in the Italian quarter where we were able to buy our ingredients or dine in their restaurants.

As a teenager I used to surf and on a cold winters day at the beach you couldn’t get better than a chip butty – Crusty bread, cold butter and hot salty chips. One year at the Yallingup Surf Championship , Zac (a white Russian) would take off in the morning before anyone else rose from their sleepy state, and go out fishing. By the time we staggered out of our tents, Zac had the King George whiting sizzling away in the pan over the fire. Clean fish filleted and cooked only minutes after it was caught; Oh so memorable.

I travelled to Lombok in the early ‘80’s to areas where westerners didn’t really go. As we arrived in the morning at our lodgings situated in the mountains on a picturesque clove and spice farm, the owners slaughtered a chicken for our evening meal. Pluck and hung for most of the day it was then infused with the most memorable flavours fresh from their spice farm. I have eaten in many very 5 star fine dining rooms but this still remains the pinnacle of my food memories.

Living in Melbourne, you really eat well and that I did. There was one restaurant that I still talk about today, that expanded my thoughts about presentation of food. It was especially the way that the oysters were served under their claypot caps. That restaurant was called the ‘Isthmus of Kra’ and it was the creation of a man called Jimmy Shu. Fortunately here in Cairns some 25 years later, Jimmy’s oysters are still served at his Hanuman restaurants and I recommend them to everyone.

Writing the 10 most memorable foods in my life and the stories with them was a fun exercise, so much so that I decided to list other interests; music, fashion and people I have met. Try it yourself.

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