It sounds cliché to say that my food hero is my mum but she is honestly one of the biggest reasons I am “into” food at all.
When I was growing up in the 1970s, my sister and I were eager spectators to many, many dinner parties held by my mum and dad - think food and wine à go-go with a soundtrack of The Alan Parsons Project, Supertramp, Elton John and the Eagles. Sometimes we even got to come out of the bedroom where we were holed up dancing on someone’s bed, singing into a hairbrush (well that was me, my sister was probably doing her homework…) and get to serve the adult guests some delicious claret which we would pour right up to the rim of the glass -- which was affectionately known as a “Nana pour” in our house.
Mum would spend the day in the kitchen cooking and preparing amazing food and we always got tastes while she was working. What I remember most about the food she cooked was that she was making all sorts of what seemed like exotic dishes way before they were mainstream. She experimented in the kitchen and wasn’t afraid to try new recipes. We travelled a lot when I was younger so we were lucky - we’d always had a more open mind to different foods.
I’m sure she had her share of kitchen failures but I don’t remember them. I used to watch mum pour over food magazines and the food section in the newspaper, marking off items that she wanted to try, cutting them out and pasting them in a scrapbook and eventually writing notes next to the dishes she tried.
When I moved to Paris at the age of 24, I took with me a folder full of photocopied recipes from that scrapbook - recipes for things as diverse as “Shya’s potato curry” (a childhood friend who shared her own mum’s recipe with our family) to things as simple as Anzac biscuits. Something every Australian grows up eating!
I still have (and refer to) that folder today, although my mum’s handwriting on those photocopies is slowly fading. I’ve posted many of those recipe (with my own adaptations) on my blog - I guess it’s my way of carrying on my mum’s kitchen legacy long after her handwriting fades.
I always think of my mum as being a bit fearless in the kitchen and I hope I’m able to encourage my young students to be the same.
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