First published some seventy years ago, The Chef was written by my grandfather and considered ‘a cooking bible’ by some Indian women of a certain generation. He lived with us for some years in his later years but I don’t remember him ever cooking. I do recall him hanging about the kitchen much to the annoyance of our cook. He could develop a recipe by smell alone. I have his instinct for cooking. I love to cook and often make adjustments by smell rather than taste. I’m not sure how I do it, but, like him, it comes naturally to me. Sadly I rarely cook these days but some of the meals I’ve taken are memorable. Indian street food, called chaart, is a new trend that has caught on in Perth. The ingredients are generally the same (fresh coriander, green chilli, red onion, plain yoghurt, sweet and tart tamarind sauce) over crispy mouthfuls of tiny discs and sometimes stuffed in balls the size of a communion host, eaten in one bite. My family loves this and we eat this at least once a fortnight.
As a child, my siblings and I would stand near a food stall in pouring rain with a gas lantern for light nearby while the man whipped up these goodies and packaged them in a newspaper cone. Somehow the memory of this is tastier than what I eat in a sanitized restaurant.In Bunbury I enjoy buying dinner from the Indian food truck. His meals are made fresh and tastes authentic. A hot curry on a winter’s night with the wind blowing a gale beach side is a treat I look forward to when I’m there. He makes the best pistachio kulfi, an Indian ice cream.And when he’s not around, my favourite room service pasta, is my comfort food.I recently discovered Fish Face in Esperance. A gourmet fish and chips place. I had a delicious meal of Queen Snapper, pippi (a tiny clam) and steamed potatoes with lemon butter. I had not eaten pippi in over 40 years! They were a taste from childhood.
I’m not feeling my best at the moment. It’s been a pressured few weeks and I’m mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. I could not get out of bed this morning even though the sunrise over the Bay looked spectacular. This is so unlike me.
On returning to Perth I shopped for ingredients for a soup I learnt to make from my Polish landlady over 30 years ago. My family calls it “Mum’s witches brew”. It makes me feel better and lifts my spirit.
Polish food is my comfort food. Cabbage rolls, savoury borscht, pierogi is what I crave in winter. I miss my dear Mrs B who spoiled me rotten in the days before I was married. The food she made was simple and hearty but it was gourmet food to me.
Until next time
a dawn bird
In response to RDP Saturday: Gourmand