I’ve had a busy month – hence the delay in writing this week – and have been away from home for the past 3 weekends. Time with family, friends and a precious weekend at the beach by myself. It gave me time to ponder what makes a place Home, or even just where and when you feel you’re Home… It’s invariably not the bricks and mortar – but it’s the shared memories and the sense of belonging.
Of course, food plays a big part of my interpretation of Home. When I’m alone at the beach, my “Go-To” meal for the first evening is a simple bowl of “Serenity Soup” – chicken broth, flavoured with fresh ginger, a hint of chilli, and gently poached mushrooms, Asian Greens, prawns and sometimes dumplings. Warm, nourishing and takes me back to my Mother’s Chicken Broth with Kluski from my childhood. Chicken soup being the cure all for everything. And if I’m there with the kids, freshly caught Salmon is always on the menu, and a shared lunch of cold meat, cheeses, pickles and fresh bread has become an expected experience.
The place I call Home is a very busy house, lots of people coming and going and many people other than the immediate family have called this place Home – sometimes just for a few weeks, and sometimes for a few years. People transiting between homes – when settlement dates don’t fall neatly into place; or when renovations become all consuming; people transitioning between home and full independence.. And like my table, there’s always room for one more. I try to add familiar dishes or consider likes, dislikes and food allergies – bring them a taste of Home – and it expands my foodie horizons; win win.
Visiting my sister’s house for the last time, as they move to their next home, I recalled parties and family dinners celebrating major milestones; where the extended whanau gathered around the table to break bread. The kitchen where I decorated and assembled a wedding cake.. The sideboard where we assembled a dessert bar for Mum’s 75th birthday; and the glitter still sparkling in the floor boards from my last party there – a small girl following, very enthusiastically, in my “Glitter Fairy” footsteps. And this visit included brunch cooked for me, by my newly independent nephew. I know that my sister, like me, follows the ethos of food binding family and friends together, and that it provides comfort in times of strife and fuels every memorable celebration.
Time with friends is often over a shared meal – dinner with the girls on Saturday night before a raucous night of laughter, dancing and did I mention laughter? A quick “pub grub” fed, before freezingly supporting my favourite rugby team – that really was a food as fuel meal… And breaky cooked for me on Sunday morning – fed both body and soul..
So, for me, Home is found in several geographical locations, here, extended whanau houses, familiar friends places, even the rugby ground where my team hangs out. And for me tying it all together is the memories and feelings I amass with every visit.
We all have a meal or taste that transports us back to a place and time; and that one thing that comforts us, when feeling cold or a little lost. For me, it’s often-chicken soup – either a simple broth, or one packed with tastes and textures. For my kids it ranges from Stroganoff and rice; to a perfectly cooked steak; and for one, the smell of a roast with all the trimmings talks of Home; and for Hubby? Bangers and Mash – though, he still asks me to try and deliver his mother’s Suet pudding…. A brother used to always answer the “what do you want for dinner?” with “Roast rack of lamb followed by Baked Alaska” – something that he was finally presented with at a surprise family dinner for his 21st. while a brother in law has a love affair with Gravy and Custard – though not generally served together.. lol.
When people move countries, they no doubt embrace the cuisine of their new home, but they will also spend time sourcing familiar ingredients; have brought with them family recipes and cooking vessels; or look forward to “Tastes of Home” if they can find them. And often the family left behind might send Red Cross parcels of home treats (Jaffas and Pineapple lumps are often sent to people on their OEs)…
So where ever you are, I’m hope your thoughts of Home include the Tastes of Home… Just as mine do…