{24/04/2012}   Nostalgia food

Last night, as a cheeky late-train-home energy boost, I had a walnut whip. My overriding feeling was how small they are. But I think they always were quite small. I don’t even like walnuts that much, it’s just the novelty shape and sof mallow that makes it so exciting. Recently, I seem to have been eating quite a few things for nostalgia purposes.
A few weeks ago I made pineapple upside down pudding. I wouldn’t go quite as dreamy eyed as to say it transported me back to my childhood, but there certainly was the feeling of a fond memory of days when my mum baked a home made pudding for just about every day.
A few years ago for a birthday party, I had a retro food afternoon whereby everyone bought or made food from their childhood. The flat was inundated with the likes of iced rings, cheesy wotsits, teacakes, viscount bars and other snacky type foods. There were also a few Frey Bentos tinned pies (I don’t think I ever had them as a child but they were never supposed to be haute cuisine!), a jar of that dreadful sandwich paste (which I do recall being smeared on bread and taken as the occasional packed lunch sandwich filler. There is a dim recollection of actually quite liking a few flavours but I know the fishy ones were revolting), some Vesta meals and then an array of homemade things, ranging from vol au vents to meatloaf.
As exciting as this vast array of oo-do-you-remember-them food stuffs was, none of us were that enthusiastic about eating them. The home made stuff was eaten and enjoyed but I guess none of us are so keen on processed food anymore and it all seemed to be a triumph of aesthetics/bright colours than taste. Oh well, it was fun. Until I got left with loads of biscuits, crisps etc. And I really must chuck out that jar of sandwich paste – remember the lid had to be twisted off to pop, a sign of freshness!
On the subject of crisps, it has often bothered me that few – in fact none that I can think of now – people share with me a fond memory of pig crisps. I have no idea what they were called but they were 3D pig shapes, loosely resembling bacon flavour. They were thin but crispy and rather tasty. Or they might have been horrid but I have the impression that they were things of greatness and wonder.
I suppose nostalgia food falls into two categories: home made stuff and snacky stuff. The snacky stuff is best remembered through the medium of conversation. But recently, I really have enjoyed beef stroganoff, lemon meringue pie, coq au vin and I am desperate to recreate, from an old Marguerite Patten cookbook, the fruity curry I am often going on about! I guess the nice thing about such dishes is that they do evoke just a little bit of a childhood memory of nice meals at home, of days when all you had to worry about were boys and homework … or maybe I’m rose tinting that too!


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