Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Is a passion for food in the genes?

(Mum and family friend John pictured above)

Simon at Wursthaus in Salamanca was indirectly responsible for the meal I shared with Mum, Dad and family friend John the other day. Simon had been yarning with Dad (the world's most passionate foodie) about a great way to cook a poussin (stuffing fresh herbs and lemon between the skin and flesh), so Dad promptly bought two, and invited John and I for lunch next day.

Now remember Dad (the main chef at my parent's house) is 84. At that age your memory isn't quite as sharp as it was when you were 20 so I noted with great interest the way Dad had prompted himself as to the timing required to produce the meal........

It all turned out fine. Dad's food was produced on schedule, Mum's white sauce contribution came in on time too, with Dad adding a generous slice of Taleggio (cheese) to top the white sauce to add to the flavour. My personal opinion was that the poussin would have been better roasted than boiled, but, hey, that's what experimentation is all about! And Dad's still experimenting with food at the age of 84, so good on him!
Posted on by Rita


Christina said...

Love your Dad's plates Rita.
Also love your Mum's name.
My youngest is Meg.
I'm sure you are right too. My mum is a fantastic cook who loves to experiment.
The day she had a recipe printed in New Idea was a moment of joy for both of us.
What makes it even harder for Mum is that Dad has no sense of smell or taste, due to unsafe work habits 40 or so years ago, yet mum doesn't get phased, she just cooks what she likes and Dad makes all the right noises.
When I've asked him how he does this, he reckons he can remember what things tasted like when he feels the texture on his tongue.
I imagine it would be like when you have a bad cold and can't taste a thing. To me, my own personal nightmare.
So yes I do think it's in the genes, though they do skip some.
My sister is quite reserved when it comes to food.
My daughters love it, and are quite good little cooks, but my son is {in the words of Sir G }, a palestine!!
Plain food only please.
As this is the case, he rarely eats at home any more!

sir grumpy said...

Yes, us good grub lovers should roar on into the distance with our triumphs (and bloopers) held high.
Good on them Rita and yours too, Christina, even the palestine.

Anonymous said...

It was certainly interesting for me to read this blog. Thanks for it. I like such themes and everything connected to this matter. BTW, try to add some images :).

Anonymous said...

Ah your family tree has been laid bare :) ... Loved having Meg as the Art School librarian and did have Pete as a Grad Dip supervisor many moons ago

Rita said...

Hi Christina - thanks for your comments. Yes, you can see Dad's artistic bias coming through loud and clear in many instances with that meal: the plates, the vegetable shaping and placement etc. That's sad about your dad's inability to taste or smell the food - I can't imagine anything worse personally than to loose that sense of taste/smell. An ex-mother-in-law of mine has never had a sense of smell/taste which actively demonstrated to me how vital that sense is - her fridge always stunk, as she couldn't smell anything that was off in it, plus she insisted on microwaving everything (roasts included) because she just couldn't taste anything different about the food no matter which way it was cooked, so obviously microwaving everything was much simpler from her perspective! Aaaagh! Maybe that's why her son and I are divorced!
BTW - Meg is short for Margaret, so is your daughter actually named Meg or is she too a Margaret who is called Meg for short?
Good on you Sir G - you're invited to Dad's next cordon bleu extravaganza!
Anon 1.28 - thanks for that, but there WERE images there..?! Did you mean you wanted a pic of Dad included?
Anon 8.24 - ah....don't you just love the smallness of Hobart! I don't know who you are, but am reassured you are totally on to what Rita is about!

Christina said...

My Meg is just Meg.
Not short for anything.
I read a book once about early Tasmania and one of the daughters was called Meg and I fell in love with the name.
Should have taken more notice of the book though.
The Meg in question was a real tear away and ended yup burning her family home down.
My Meg gives me a run for my money some days too!

steve said...

I believe it is Rita. I got it from my Mum & Dad. Mum loved to eat & Dad loved to cook. Two of my kids are already very comfortable in the kitchen & cook regularly. One has a penchant for cakey biscuity slicey things & the other for bready, potatoey noodley stuff.

Hazel said...

Hmmm, I think it can't all be genetic- my parents have no great interest in food or cooking. They think I'm slightly obsessed....

sir grumpy said...

My gran and to a lesser extent my mum were good cooks, Rita, Steve.
Mum worked a lot, so didn't get time to cook much but when she did, the crumbed (fresh) haddock with white sauce and new potatoes swimming in butter with freshly shelled and cooked peas...simple but delicious.
She also did a fantastic apple pie.
My gran was a great cook, Kale soup, roasts, steamed puddings, roly-poly puddings, baked rice pud, steak pies (proper ones with pastry all round). Roast spuds.
You know on sunday arvo we would have home-made soup, say a roast or stew, with loads of veg, often from gran's garden.
There would be cauliflower, savoy cabbage, frshly-shelled peas and mashed turnip.
Often beetroot too.
Pudding to follow, say a rhubarb pie and custard, with tea and biscuits to follow.
If you got hungry later it was another bowl of soup with hunks of bread. Or bread slathered with home-made jam: strawberry or raspberry or rhubarb or greengage.
We ate well!

Anon2 said...

My nan, mum and her sister, my aunt Jeune, were all great country cooks. I was always interested in how things were done cooking wise from my early years while my sister Helen had no interest in food. Like sir grumpy, I have great memories of the tradiional food of the 50s - the roasts and special baked potatoes, the apple turnovers and jam roly polys, syrup dumplings (all served with thick clotted cream).
I got my chance to cook my first roasts as a 14 year old when my parents decided to do some seasonal apple picking and I had to have the roast with veg on after school and ready when they got home.
I have great memories also of my aunt Jeune's Kentish cherry pies and her cinnamin aple cake. I spent a lot of time as a kid at my Uncle Allan's and her farm at Wattle Grove near Cygnet.
Later came my mum's famous scones and pavs.

sir grumpy said...

We shouldn't lose those recipes and dishes Anon2.
That's why CWA cookbooks and all Aussie cookbooks should be snapped up from school fairs etc.
I recently got a pressie of an old ozzie & kiwi cookbook from the missus after the St Aloysius fair.
I have others, so this one may be given as a present to a favourite (ex-cook) uncle in the UK.
He'll love it as much as we do.
It'll be lamingtons and pavs and all sorts of aussie lamb dishes on the go there, I just know.

Stephen Estcourt said...

Lovely post Rita. Your Dad (and Mum) look in great nik. I hope I am still as passionate about food at 84.