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Memories of food to inspire you.

June 8, 2011

Tomatoes and basil

In my last post I promised that I would share my inspiration from the Bumble Box I brought home. Once I started to look at what the box contained, I couldn’t help but take pictures of the lovely produce. They seemed to deserve their own portraits. It also got me thinking about food and relationship I have with it. It seems that all my really good memories from childhood and lots from adulthood involve food in one form or another.

White Onion

Beetroot

I can still remember being washed in the kitchen sink after wondering through my dad’s vegetable garden and being scratched by what must have been tomato plants or maybe it was pumpkins. Every time I smell that fresh green smell of newly picked tomatoes, it takes me back to that very moment. Growing up in South Africa, meant that as kids we spent most of our time outdoors. There was no TV, no nintendo and definitely no computers in the late sixties and early seventies. We made our own fun. Built forts outside and climbed the huge fig tree in our back garden. I still remember actually sitting in the fig tree, picking ripe green figs and eating them still warm from the sunshine. There was no need to wash or disinfect them, since they just grew naturally without any interference from us. During the summer we also had a glut of peaches from our peach trees. They were those lovely vanilla coloured peaches with the rose pink skins. They smelt of summer. We would just pick them and eat them right there under the trees. Sometimes my mother would make a dessert with stewed peaches, although I think I loved them most straight from the tree. We also had an apricot tree and a plum tree in that garden. I wonder if the trees are still there? I hope so.
The glut of figs, apricots and peaches were also used to make jam. Jars and jars of them which would last us for months. I loved the fig jam with the chunks of ginger most of all. To this day, whenever I go home, I always return with jars of home made jam or honey,  thanks to my industrious parents.  It sounds as though we lived on a small-holding, but not so. We lived in a normal suburban house with a fair sized back garden. Instead of flowers in the back yard, my parents grew fruit and vegetables. Flowers were strictly for the front garden.

Even now when I think of good times, they always seem to involve food. Like Signora Ermini’s orto (vegetable garden) in Toscana. The boys and I delighted in picking tomatoes and popping them straight into our mouths all warm and sweet from all that Italian sunshine. That vegetable garden is one of the most amazing gardens I have ever seen, over- flowing with natural, organic vegetables. I hope I can visit it again some time. An Italian pastry shop, la pasticceria sends my heart racing. The first time I came across one in Florence I thought I had died and gone to heaven. St Anna’s in Johannesburg, an Italian restaurant that The Italian took me to, while we were still dating. There I tasted the most memorable gnocchi. Half of it was served with a beautiful fresh tomato sauce and the other half with a gorgonzola sauce. It was a match made in heaven…a bit like ours:) Lamb chops in Dullstroom, South Africa.  Mint Lamb Cutlets at Valley View Garden Cafe and Restaurant in Henley Brook in the Swan Valley, near Perth Western Australia. Home made pizza directly from the wood fired oven on the Ermini’s farm in Tuscany. Fantastic, mildly spiced chicken kebabs on the streets in Bali (the boys loved them). Cheese cake and rooibos tea at the Royal Hotel in Durban, South Africa. I wonder if it’s still that good? Mussels, freshly picked off the rocks and cooked simply by my brother in Fish Hoek many, many years ago. My late grandmother’s ox tail stew with the fluffiest dumplings ever. Her peanut butter sandwiches also tasted better than anyone else’s.

I’ve been to many eateries and restaurants, most leave me numb. Many are over rated and over priced.  I think perhaps it is the whole experience that makes you remember something special; the moment and the people you shared it with. Some of my most memorable meals have been in the homes of friends. Many of those recipes have been shared with me and I make them in my own home often. Always with the memory of where I had eaten it for the first time.

I wish more people could appreciate good, simple home cooked meals. Fuss free food, made with love using simple down to earth ingredients. Cooking does not have to be daunting. It can be as simple as putting together a salad or making a sandwich from  good wholesome bread and fresh tomatoes with a sprinkling of sea salt and a grinding of black pepper. What could be better? You simply cannot create lasting memories and good health by eating fast food. There is nothing special about KFC or Mac Donalds or Burger King. Nothing.

Organic Cherry Tomatoes

Organic Peppers / Capsicums

Butternut Squash

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. June 9, 2011 9:09 AM

    I find it hard not to keep taking photos of all that fresh produce from the market. It just shows how limp and uninspiring the supermarket stuff is. All my memories are linked to food too!

  2. June 9, 2011 12:52 PM

    I love the photographs of the betroots and tomatoes the best!! I think I’m finally going to have a chance to go to BumbleBox this Saturday, especially after seeing this, I just HAVE to make that trip happen!

  3. June 10, 2011 9:56 AM

    Loving this post and the look of the green peppers in the pepper picture! I agree with your opinion on restaurants, That’s why I hardly ever go out. Most often it leaves me wondering if it was really worth the money. My homemade hummus is better than that in any Lebanese restaurant. My husband makes the best BBQed meats and veggies. And why does it have to cost me 300 Dirhams to get a decently fried tender steak in Dubai. Nice, but worth that much money?
    I grew up on sandwiches topped with just tomatoes, sliced cucumbers or radishes, so I know exactly what you mean.

  4. June 11, 2011 5:25 PM

    Thanks for the comments ladies. I feel so loved…

  5. June 21, 2011 4:12 PM

    LOVE the photographs, especially of the tomatoes and the onion. My mom always talked about eating figs off the tree in their pretoria garden as a child, but sadly I did not have my first fresh fig till I was in my 20s. I did, howeverm grow up addicted to the green figs in syrup that are so popular in SA but unobtainable in London!! Still love them.

    • June 25, 2011 4:38 PM

      I know Jeanne, every time we go “home” there is a jar of green figs in syrup waiting. I loooove them. People who have never eaten them have no idea what they’re missing.

  6. November 15, 2011 7:01 PM

    Beautiful pictures!

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