I was about four years and my first flavour memory is a rather simple one. My older sister Judy (who is ten years older than me) made all of us (six including herself and me) the most delicious banana milkshakes with flake crumbled on top. To this day, I remember the first sip; frothy, cold banana-cream sweetness on my lips trailed by chilled crumbs of milk chocolate. I was standing by the sink in the kitchen in our house in Raheny holding the chilled tumbler glass in both of my little hands like it was a sacred chalice. I savoured every mouthful, my heart getting heavier as my glass slowly emptied. This was an exotic texture and taste sensation – I mean, we had banana’s before of course but whizzed together with vanilla ice-cream and milk until thick, frothy and sumptuously sweet was a lip smacking eye-opener!
My Dad was, and still is, a very plain eater. If he saw an onion within 5 feet of his dinner plate, there may be picture and no sound for a week! It was potato, vegetables (as in cabbage, carrots, turnips, parsnips and little more) with meat at dinner times until I was at least 8 years old. We were one of those households where pasta and rice arrived later as we all grew older and Dad mellowed without realising what was actually happening. He still doesn’t eat onions… and don’t even mention the G word!! My first encounter with garlic is another distinct food memory I’ll share another time!! 😀 I digress… which will happen a lot with me! One of the things about food that I’m really interested in is how it becomes an integral part of our memories and how we relate to certain situations and people. I recognise now that my love of feeding people and cooking for others comes from my memories of Judy cooking special dishes and treats for us as kids and the feeling of love and care that enveloped me when she would do that. It also relates back to our family dinners in the evenings where we would all sit down together and eat while talking about whatever went on that day. Don’t be misled now – we were no Irish version of The Waltons by any stretch of the imagination!!! HaHaHaHa! There was a lot more agro than harmonious banter! But this was important for my Dad who only got to hear from us all at that point in the day – information overload!! My poor Mam, on the other hand, probably wanted to crawl into a corner and pull a blanket over her head!!! I can’t imagine dealing with six kids every day from morning until night #INSANITY #INSANITY #INSANITY Anyhooooo, food can be so harmonious and loving and inclusive – that’s how I feel it.
Today my whole family are meeting up for dinner to celebrate with my Mum and Dad because they are married for 55 years since 26 November 2015. 55 YEARS!!!!! Holy Cannoli!!!!! :-O That’s one hell of a ride and to be honest, I don’t know how my Mum hasn’t smothered my stubborn yolk of a Father somewhere along the way. She’s a beautiful woman; in body, heart and soul. And stubborn enough too, come to think of it. I didn’t lick it off the stones, as the saying goes 😛 There are 23 of us between in-laws and grand children and I’m really looking forward to the banter and chat. We’re only missing one, my brother Mike who lives in Canada – no doubt he’ll be skyped somewhere along the way. Food is part of the cement that keeps us all stuck and talking to each other – alcohol, although enjoyable, is way way way too much trouble! 😉 I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂