Food tastes better when you eat it with your family.
I kinda wondered, and procrastinated for those of you who know me, how, celebrating family ties in with food and it dawned on me that my love of food is intricately woven through memories of my two Grannies, Mom, family get together’s and a myriad of other life events…
My two Grans were so different in personality from one another and yet both of them loved their families so. Eating around a dinner table together was what meal times were all about.
Walking into my grandparent’s house in Port Elizabeth I would beeline to the biscuit cupboard,
scarcely greeting, and dive into the tin of syrup biscuits and stuff my face before my mother could tell me off… Being a good English lady, my Granny Pam would bake every Thursday in anticipation of guests to come. There was always some form of loaf cake (tea loaf was her forte), crumbly short bread and of course sweet snappy buttery syrup biscuits.
Celebration meals together as a family would inevitably involve some kind of curry (my Grandpa was stationed outside of India in WW2 and picked up some tips, naturally) and THE BEST roast potato’s ever made by Fifi (their house keeper for what felt like a 1000 years) crispy helmet like shells with small balls of potato rolling around on the inside. If you didn’t fork them securely the rest of your plate of food was sure to go flying.
We would alternate Christmas holidays, bi annually, between PE and Stellenbosch.
Holidays in Stellenbosch meant long languid days with the “sonbessies” screaming in the afternoon sun, boxes of ripe ruby red strawberries and sweet juicy litchi’s. Picking plums off the neighbour’s tree and almost biting into a worm (urgh) which resulted in a plum boycott for many years (also gave me some thought to being a glutton!!).
Granny Flo & Grandpa Peter’s swimming pool and outdoor area with fancy white cast iron furniture were pivotal to all summer holiday meals… However when occasion called we moved indoors to the large round dining table and the lazy susan (yip we all wanted to spin it like a roulette wheel). At least once during the holiday we would pickle off to Gordons Bay harbour for fresh fish for the evening braai.
These holidays are filled with memories of laughter, wine and my Dad’s old school friends, crayfish tails and Italian kisses, beetroot and potato salads, seasonal fresh fruit, Betamax video casettes of Superman and many afternoons spent with a book on the porch staring at the Stellenbosch mountain, which felt like it started in the neighbours erf…
And then the holidays would end with the long journey back home.
But lucky for me my birthday is in January so the New Year always started with my birthday cake selection. My Mom had a Woman’s Weekly children’s birthday cake recipe book and I would spend hours going through the pages to decide on which cake it would be… (I think my Mom was only to glad when I started baking my own cakes in High School) Parties were always a childhood highlight, fizzy cola’s, endless bowls of sugus, bonanza and pink fizzers, fizz pops and tomato sauce Simba chips. Ice cream cones, party games, devilled eggs fashioned as swan’s and hedgehogs made off halved oranges and quills laden with cheesy blocks, Vienna chunks and coloured pickled onions – the 80’s were da bomb…!!
Somewhere in between home cooked meals, roasts, chinese braai’s, potjiekos and lemon meringue on Sundays and prawn braai’s for New Years Eve I developed a love for food, and as I have grown older my life has been coloured in with wonderful food experiences and cherished memories of times together.
I am deeply thankful, as a chubby girl who developed a love for vanilla party cakes and buttercream icing that my family has always been there, encouraging, applauding and inspiring a journey that has become my life.
Written by Jill Nowers of Jack and Jill Food co. • Our in-house Culinary Creative
*A special THANK YOU to Jill for sharing her family album