Not all of my food memories are great ones. One of the earliest memories I have involves brussel sprouts and fish cakes, and my poor mother sitting with her arms crossed at our dinner table for hours, making sure that I swallowed every bite. Let’s not forget the aforementioned pasta salad either… I’m guessing this is where I started being the fussy little eater that I am today?
My parents are very keen travellers and have been to too many countries and continents to even begin listing them. To this day, they are barely ever in Joburg and are galavanting across Africa, exploring every nook and cranny. What relevance does this have to my food memories you may ask? Everything.
I’ve had the privilege of tasting chocolate from Switzerland, hearing stories of massive plates of food being served at wooden tables in Germany, delicacies in France and things that I probably shouldn’t bring up being eaten in Mozambique. Food seems to be a big part of our lives and is one of the first things that is brought up after a big trip somewhere foreign.
When I was twelve, we packed our bags, and along with eighteen or so other friends and family hopped onto a plane to Madagascar. I had no idea what to expect and when we got there we were faced with the most beautiful place on earth. To this day, nothing has come close to that.
We had ventured off of the main island and landed onto a smaller island called ‘Ile Saint Marie‘, where the locals were friendly, the seas were bluer than the skies and the food was out of this world. Being a tiny island of only 62km by 7km, and somewhat behind the times, the island had no electricity. Which meant no fridges. Which meant that everything was freshly cooked for us every day. Bread was bought from a man riding a bicycle with a basket full of baguettes on the front, condensed milk was used as a substitute for milk in your coffee, squid was caught each morning and prepared in front of your eyes for lunch. It was outstanding. Every meal, every single bite.
Breakfast consisted of fresh baguettes filled with omelettes. Lunch was simple salads of tomato, palm hearts and pan-fried squid. Dinner became a feast – a table laden full of salads, fresh breads, seafood platters and Zeebu (the Malagasy version of a cow) steaks. There was a day where we spent the afternoon sitting on the sand under the palm trees, eating off of banana leaves…It’s so hard to put it all into words – I really can’t do it justice. I don’t think I’ve ever had a meal as good as that on the island.
Other great food memories revolve around my time spent living abroad. Traipsing off to eat lunch at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen in London, spending our weekends browsing Borough Market in the east and sampling some of the best curries that London has to offer. Eating chocolate ice-cream while lying on the grass under the Eiffel Tower.
All of that said, I’m guessing that when I look back on my life, my greatest memories will involve a good old braai with family and friends.