Friday, March 23, 2007

Nostalgia


Cooking is part of the rhythm of life. So many of our celebrations and social occasions are tied up or celebrated with food: birthdays, weddings, dinner parties, Christmas, Easter, Mother's Day and Father's Day. There are special food rituals and traditions associated with these events, some indulgent (such as birthday cake, Christmas pudding, wedding feasts) and others not (the giving up of something during Lent).

Many of our memories are tied in with food. A smell or a taste may evoke a memory of your grandmother, a special ritual from childhood or a meal eaten on an overseas holiday. Marcel Proust wrote most famously about this association of food with involuntary memory, which the narrator experiences upon tasting a madeleine with a cup of tea in Remembrance of Things Past.

Kitchen Wench has invited fellow food bloggers to write about the sense of nostalgia certain recipes inspire in you. It's easy to think of food memories but difficult to narrow it down to a defining memory. From my childhood are memories of delicious roasts every Sunday lunch, the smell of basting meat permeating the house all morning; steamed ginger pudding smothered in thick custard for lunch at my great-aunt's house; hot scones fresh from the oven at the CWA stand at the Royal Melbourne Show; and spaghetti bolognaise with an untraditional but delicious cheesy crust that we always had when mum and dad went out for dinner and left us with a babysitter. Once my mum's American friend Debbie came to stay and brought a box of beignet mix from New Orleans. We mixed it up, deep-fried the beignets and served them with coffee and chicory mix and felt quite the sophisticates!

Or memories from my overseas travels - the delicious midnight supper of oysters, baguettes, pate, cheese and white wine that Adam and I shared on our first night in Paris; the creamy seafood chowder that we ate in a little windswept seaside restaurant in northern Ireland; impossibly rich and thick hot chocolate and cakes at a cafe in Krakow.

When I think of all these special memories, I can picture the scene and practically taste the food again. But the recipe I've chosen as my entry in Kitchen Wench's nostalgia event is one of the simplest: chocolate rough slice. I don't know where the recipe came from but mum has made this slice all my life. It was there as an afternoon snack after school or a morning tea treat on weekends. When ladies were requested to "bring a plate please" for the supper after our school concert, mum always took this slice. She made it in big batches and put it in the freezer before shearing season, when the team of shearers would woof down the slice, coconut biscuits and cups of tea at morning tea and still front up for a two-course lunch a few hours later. This slice has been part of our family for so long that it was only recently that I realised that I didn't actually have a copy of mum's recipe, as we always rely on her to make it. I have finally persuaded mum to commit the recipe to paper and now I share it with you.

This slice is also my entry for this week's Friday Morning Tea.

CHOCOLATE ROUGH SLICE

I always make a double batch of this slice, to use up the tin of condensed milk. It keeps well and also freezes well.

125 g butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
3/4 cup coconut
1 cup SR flour

Grease and line a slice tin with non-stick baking paper. Cream butter and sugar, add golden syrup and coconut, then flour. Bake in a moderate oven (180 degrees) for 10 to 15 minutes (don't let it brown). Cool slightly and add topping.

Topping

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon cocoa
½ can condensed milk
1 cup icing sugar
1 cup coconut
½ teaspoon vanilla

Melt butter and warm condensed milk over gentle heat. Add vanilla and sifted cocoa and stir well. Add icing sugar and coconut. Spread over cooled slice.

1 comment:

Ellie said...

Good job getting your ma to commit the recipe to paper for you! Having a ma who always cooks from memory, I know how difficult that can be!

This is a wonderful post that celebrates exactly what I wanted to do with this Nostalgia event - thank you for the wonderful memories and for taking part :)