Real Food at Grandma’s

Real Food at Grandma’s

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Let me start by saying that my husband and I ate real food. By most people’s standards I’m a slob in almost every area except when it comes to food. We almost never eat out or eat take away. Why? Because we like to cook and enjoy healthy food. It’s most likely my ‘trust issues’ but unless you are hovering in the kitchen of a restaurant, you just don’t know what you are eating. Too much salt, too much sugar, is it Australian? I do ask but then I’m scared they might spit on my food because I have insulted the chef. It’s all too hard.

In our house, in Adelaide, when our son was growing up, we ate lentils, beans, all kinds of stir fries as well as meat and vegies. It’s just that my son was more likely served a lentil patty with vegies or salad than a roast or chops and vegies. I had no idea how he felt about the food we served daily, priding ourselves on the fact that our son ate healthy food. We shopped at the fantastic (oh I miss you so much) Adelaide Central Markets taking our ‘granny’ trolley and filling it with our vegies, fish, meat, cheeses, breads and so on.

Even my son’s breakfast had to be oats or Vita Brits, none of that sugary/salty kiddie cereal in our house. No siree! When shopping our son wanted that stuff (I think Vita Brits and Oats people really ought to put cartoon characters on the packet, it works) and I would have to explain every week why he couldn’t eat that stuff. I’d say to him, “You may as well eat cream filled biscuits with a glass of milk.”

Likewise, his lunch box always had healthy sandwiches or home-cooked veggie slices, boiled egg, or one of those pesky lentil patties, jelly cups that we made on the weekend in reusable pots. Never chips, chocolates or muesli bars covered in chocolate (still don’t get that). He rarely complained, that’s just how it was in our house. We had our own chooks so plenty of eggs for snacks and for baking.

My son loved baking as a kid and we spent weekends and holidays baking bread, buns, cakes and biscuits.

My parents live in a country town about two hours drive from Adelaide so it was great to be able to go to the country on weekends. Mum and dad had chooks, fruit trees, veggie garden and made preserves, jams, chutneys, sauces and blanched vegies to freeze. We always headed back to Adelaide with produce and usually a tin of home baked biscuits to boot. Dad goes crabbing so if we timed it right we got a feed of fresh crabs as well.
My son was nine years old when we moved to Darwin. What a shock! Where’s the fresh food? The variety? And this weather! What can you cook? Who wants the oven on? Goodbye bread and bun cooking let me tell you right now. No more cook offs on the weekends. It took me a few years to get back into the kitchen to bake. Except for Christmas and that was suffering, so much so it should have been called Easter.

On a holiday back south and a visit to mum and dad’s, we were served one of my mother’s delicious roasts. She does the best roasts, I love the spuds covered in the tar-like meat gravy and I can’t explain it because I don’t know how she does it. Dad’s are different. He does the chicken roast and his veggies are separate from the meat and they come out all evenly crisp and perfect. They have both mastered roasts to perfection.
We are enjoying our repast when my son pipes up, “mum, why don’t we ever eat real food?” I nearly choked on my vegies! What do you mean? We eat real food. What’s your definition of real food? I was insulted to think our son of eleven years thought we were feeding him, what? Make believe food? Junk food? Peter Pan food? Was he waiting all these years for real food?

I thought real food is what you grow up with, that what you eat when you are a child pretty much determines how you think about food. Apparently not. Maybe its genetic, he has to have half a dead animal on his plate before it can be defined a meal, just like Grandpa. Not big girl blouse food like glazed snow peas on a bed of baby spinach or mungbean food like lentil patties. You know, stuff we ate.

Well, whatever, it worked. I tell you now it is many years later and that lad gets a roast every visit to Grandmas and a lemon meringue pie (and one to take home). Well played son!

I’ve come to the conclusion that real food is home-cooked no matter what you serve. We tend to eat more vegetarian food than meat but thanks to growing up the way I did and with my son’s ethical beliefs about animals it is possible to eat meat and feel ok about it. We are discerning when it comes to food, to have that deep seated satisfaction of growing and producing your own food (or knowing where to get it), to be aware of where you food comes from and the journey it takes to reach your plate.

Real Australian farmers (not the slave animal ones) the ones I’ve met at any rate, care about their animals and treat them kindly. This is important and they should be paid a fair price. As consumers we should be prepared to pay more for ethical food.
You are what you eat. Who wants the guilt of eating a slave chook or pig? They don’t taste the same and they have such a hideous life before they die just so we get cheap chook.

It is food for thought.

Enjoy Real Food.

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