October 1st, 2011
I’m participating in the weekly blogging theme 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History and this week’s topic is all about our least favourite foods. When I first saw the topic all the horrible things Mum used to cook for me as a child instantly came to mind. Now before anyone says that’s not nice, I have to say my statement needs to be placed in the context of the times.
This was Brisbane, Queensland, Australia in the late 1950s, early 1960s before we had any real impact from the European and later Asian and African migrants who would make Australia their home. It was very much a meat and potato type diet and as my parents were not very well off, it was more offal than meat. My earliest food memories are of tripe with onions in a white sauce, lamb brains crumbed, lambs fry and bacon, steak and kidney with more kidney than steak and all served with lumpy mashed potatoes, peas and carrots.
Meal times were a bit of a battle as I simply could not eat tripe, brains, kidneys or lambs fry without gagging and eventually I ended up having sausages instead. The only trouble was Mum usually cooked my sausages in with the other ‘foods’ so they still smelt strange but at least they tasted like sausages. Even today if I see mashed potato, peas and carrots on my plate I have trouble eating them and there is no way that I can eat offal.
The best day of the week was Sunday when we had the traditional roast, usually lamb but it was probably mutton, and I can remember my brother and I fighting over the shank. That was always the best part.
As the 1960s progressed, I remember going to our first ever Chinese restaurant and having chicken chow mein and soon Chinese became a regular weekly takeaway event. When my brother started playing soccer we made Italian friends and discovered pasta and pizza and again I discovered there was a whole world of good food out there. In the early 1970s I discovered Mexican food and chillies at Byron Bay and I use chillies in just about everything I cook today.
Mum wasn’t into baking so I don’t have any memories of cakes and biscuits and as she went back to work once my brother and I went to school, there wasn’t too much time for cooking anyway. I’m not into cakes and biscuits either but I do try and cook exotic dishes for dinner most nights. These days my taste is very much Asian and anything hot and spicy is good. My partner and I both like trying cuisine from different cultures and when we travel we always try and eat the local foods. Although the frog dish we had in Bali reminded me a lot of my experiences with offal!
I know my family was not alone in eating offal back then and some people still eat it today – but if you ever come to my place for dinner, I can guarantee you won’t be served any form of offal. It is still my least favourite food!