The World Is Your Hamper
I was born in Kent, the so called Garden of England, but my memories of my first five years are few and vague. Of those memories several are of food, I recall tangerines at Christmas; the cherries, almonds and apples off the fruit trees in the garden and for some reason hiding from the vacuum cleaner under the table then emerging to eat liver and mashed potato. In 1963 at the age of five (I’ll do the sum for you … 58!) we moved to a small village in South Wales.
One of my first memories of our move is of calling in at the digs where my father had been staying and meeting the lady who owned the house. The smell as we walked through the door was incredible, sweet, spicy, warm and fruity. This lady, I’m sorry I don’t remember her name, took us into the kitchen where she was making welsh cakes. She gave me one to try still warm from the griddle, moist in the middle and lightly browned outside with just a few darker pock marks, sweet with sugar and warm with cinnamon. It was glorious and I remember asking for another.
Later that day I was introduced to our new home. We sat in the sitting room surrounded and cramped by yet to be unpacked boxes. I was hungry again and there was no food in the house but my father said it was not a problem ‘just be patient’ he said as he searched and found a few plates and cutlery in a box labelled kitchen. A good half hour went by and I began to complain about my rumbling tummy but those complaints were met with phrases like “not long now” and “we’ll eat soon”. I was confused and getting impatient, it was October and beginning to get dark when I heard a van come up the road playing a tinny tune. My father jumped up and made for the door, surely we were not going to have ice cream for tea! I couldn’t believe my luck but when he came back he was almost cuddling a package wrapped in newspaper with whisps of steam escaping from it’s edges giving off a deep meaty smell. The plates were soon overflowing with faggots, chips and peas something I had never had before and I couldn’t believe he got it from the ice cream man! I was hungry and I didn’t hesitate in devouring them.
I believe this was the day my interest in food and my gastronomic adventures began.
In the sixties there was little scope for anything exotic or unusual, todays big supermarkets were yet to be born and the most daring thing you could buy in the local grocery store was probably Vesta Beef Curry. My how things have changed, no matter what your views on globalisation, immigration and the multicultural society you have to admit that the choice in food these things have brought is phenomenal. From feta cheese to bean curd, soy sauce to jerk seasoning, wagu beef to biltong; cuisines ranging from Chinese to Swedish, Greek to Icelandic, Italian to Creole; food has truly gone global so the world is indeed your hamper.
This blog is going to concentrate on ingredients and products from around the world. You won’t find recipes directly here though I will link to recipes using the items I am writing about. I will also try and suggest where they can be sourced though there is no guarantee they will always be available when you read about them. If that happens always remember that they are only a google away!
I will endeavour to make it interesting, hopefully informative, somewhat useful and with a bit of luck a little amusing and entertaining.
With that said I think I will begin by writing about those things I have just listed; feta, bean curd, soy sauce, jerk seasoning, wagu beef and biltong; then move on to cuisines; Chinese, Swedish, Greek, Icelandic, Italian and Creole. That should keep me busy for a while!
One final thought: –