Memories around the dinner table
Growing up in India, I remember our lunch was deliberately late in the afternoon to make sure we made it in time to sit down together at the table. My mom, after her long day as an art teacher, would have lunch ready for us. My brother and I would rush home from school, wash up and grab a seat. My dad, a career army man would schedule a break from his busy routine at the office and be home in time for lunch. Afterwards, he would head out again for afternoon rounds at his unit but lunchtime would be together.
I have the worst memory. I forget many things – why my husband and I fought yesterday, how to operate our security system (that’s me!), what the kids did this morning to incur my wrath…many things. But mealtime memories usually stick in my head. A whiff of dhokla and kachori and my dad’s fondness for (sweet, spicy, sour) chatpata Indian street food comes rushing back.
My dad passed away recently and it shook the ground underneath my feet, months later I can still feel the tremors. My fondest memories of him are at mealtimes when we would chat about school and how everyone hated me since I started wearing glasses. Somehow the deepest conversations took place over steaming hot chapattis. Decades later, my favourite childhood dishes still stir up strong memories of those times and the people I love.
My dad retired as a Lieutenant General – the highest rank a person can reach in the Indian army. His position meant we pulled up our roots and moved houses and cities every 18 months. In every new house, my Mom would unpack the kitchen first. Cutlery, crockery, pantry jars all would get tackled first to make sure dinner was served at the dining table or on top of a still-packed metal trunk. The location didn’t matter as long as we ate together.
Since we were married my husband and I have followed the same tradition, multiple times. We have uprooted ourselves from India to Canada, house to house, from shared kitchens to rentals to our very own little piece of land. Each time we leave behind a big chunk of our life and take along our memories of our home, and our family and friends, people with whom we have shared a meal. As a child, I mourned the loss of good friends each time we loaded up the truck. Thankfully today in the age of Facebook and WhatsApp it’s easy(er) to stay in touch and if stars align, even meet again.
Memories Of What We Eat
Research has proven that our memories of the past influence what we eat, the ingredients we use and how we cook our food. Memories create our story and fill them with colour, flavour and aroma. They help us share who we are, where we’ve come from and what we care about. I’m living proof of that where my history, experiences and knowledge have all influenced my kitchen.
What is Your Food Memory #MyFoodMemory
To celebrate my dad and in his memory, I welcome you to share your favourite food memory. What do you remember of your childhood kitchen? Is there a food that takes you back to your roots? A dish that reminds you of your home and your family? You can share it on your social media with the hashtag #MyFoodMemory. I will repost as many as I can on my social media. Please make sure the caption includes what the dish is and why it sparks your memory. If you would like, share the recipe as well in the caption or you can email it to Puneeta@MapleandMarigold.com. Don’t forget the hashtag #MyFoodMemory.