I’ve recently spent time with my two grandchildren — my granddaughter is eight years old, while my grandson is aged six. Have you ever had to reason with a six-year-old? My daughter is a teacher, so I wonder if that has anything to do with it?
Anyway, I was reminiscing with my granddaughter about the food we used to eat when I was young. When I mentioned that my father used to grow all of his own produce, my granddaughter asked, “What’s that?”
My father had an incredible vegetable garden. His cabbages, cauliflowers, beans and peas would put many to shame. I loathed vegetables. When I came home and Dad was on night shift, I’d see the old kookaburra stove top would have several pots bubbling away with, you guessed it, vegetables.
He also had a strawberry patch. The strawberries were amazing with a dollop of cream. There were also a few mulberry trees, which used to make an unbelievable mess when I was asked to pick them for the pies. My hands would be stained, my face was stained and my clothes would be stained.
I would bring them into the house and cover them with cold water. Adding salt would help to float out any grubs. My granddaughter was repulsed. “Nanna, why would you eat them?” she asked. It took great effort to convince her that the fruit was yummy.
My father had passionfruit vines too, but his favourite was a choko vine. He would take the choko and boil them, and then he would smother them in butter, salt and pepper. Then he would start sneezing, and my father’s sneezes were the sort that sent you scurrying for safety.
We also had chickens. Dad would let them out to run so that we could collect the eggs in our pinneys and get back to the door before the rooster noticed and tried to peck us.
With a big family, we lived on mince almost every night. Our treat with a roast lamb if my father won it after stopping to play the ‘Spin A Win’ chocolate wheel on his walk home.
Having wowed my granddaughter with these memories from my childhood, it makes me wonder what sort of food-related memories she will have when she’s an adult.