There’s a bowl full of porridge in front me and I can feel my grandfathers stare boaring into my head. My sister is opposite me across the other side of the table. I look over at her, fearing that what we have in front of us will at one point have to be consumed. It did not look appetising. Let’s just say my grandfather could not cook, but when he did you ate it without fuss, otherwise there’d be hell to pay. In about 5 minutes that bowl was empty. My senses had been purposely blocked out and I’d never thrown back food so fast before in my life. My sister on the other hand, sat there with her arms crossed with no movement and not even a spoon to her hand. I glare over at her and mouth just eat it. She didn’t. Let’s just say it didn’t end well. That was one memory I particularly dont reminisce about.
My real food journey began when I was very young and I think back to holding this green,scaly shell of a vegetable which was an avocado. I used to throw it around like mini cannon balls, rub it all over my face and feel the squishyness between my gums. This was the first food I’d ever tasted and it was heavenly. My clothes were always filthy and I enjoyed nothing else but getting messy with it. I used to wear a yellow bill plastic bib which was my own saviour and form of superhero powers. I needed this, because I’d get that bad that my mum used to have to put me outside, plonk me in a highchair and I’d end up feeding the birds. I’d get into such a state that she’d literally have to hose me down by the end of it.
To be open minded, to understand food from different cultures and the different variations that food possessed was an important factor my mother taught us growing up. The oven door would open every night and the most amazing smells and aromas would waft throughout the room. There was always this special touch she added to her meals. The woman in my life had all possessed a certain touch with food. It was that love, that knowledge and a confidence they all exuded. To be a powerforce towards the ingredients and recipes and trust their judgement was something I found admirational. No one could whip up a coleslaw the way my nana could or bake a cake the way my grandmother did. This was a skill I wanted to learn and a gift I wanted to receive.
Throughout my schooling era, I was spoilt for choice when it came to lunchtime . I’d open up my lunchbox, my eyes would widen and there inside was a selection of incredible food. I’d gorge on it like there was no tomorrow. I’d always had a fast metabolism and a big appetite, but I never became gluttonous or abused it to the sense that I took it for granted. It has always been a priority or me to understand that food is beyond the taste. It’s the texture, the feel, the colours and the science behind it. To mould flavours together and have them react and bind in such a way, is beyond comprehending. I remember when I walked the streets of France and I stumbled upon this little bakery down an alleyway. This patisserie shop was filled with the dantiest little pastries topped with the most amazing produce I’d ever seen. Pastry rolled with the softest butter, that when you bit into it , it’d melt through your palette and your senses would be elevated to another level.
This last year has redefined how I view food. Putting myself back into the study world to learn the art of patisserie, has opened up my eyes. To take particular ingredients and combine them at different temperatures, sequences and force has reset my mindset. The science, the maths , but overall the amazing outcome that comes when it all works together is staggering. With the embedded words on my brain that if I don’t do something with food then I’m wasting my talent from a past teacher, it ignites a fire within me. For me, food has always been a way of bringing people together, creating memories and arousing senses. It takes you to a place you never thought your palette could comprehend. Embracing flavour combinations, and understanding how acidity, saltiness and sweetness all come together to form a taste , excites me every time I pick up an edible delicacy. We should all appreciate every single morsel and take the time to heighten the senses with every single bite. Like they say with all foodies, you don’t eat to live, you live to eat.