The older I get the more I think about food. So naturally the more I think about our travel plans the more I think about the food we’ll eat.
Friday night was an anniversary of sorts. The seventh of July 2017 will be Pete’s last day in the office for six months. It will be the end of Sophie’s second term at school. It will probably be the end of a long list of sports and hobbies that form part of our New Zealand routine. And so, Friday being the seventh of July, we took the kids out to dinner. We didn’t eat anything especially exotic, Vietnamese food can be fragrant and nourishing, without being what the girls describe, with their upturned noses and precocious palettes, as “spicy”. But eating soft shell crab and sharing prawns with the girls was a reminder of how memories are embodied in the food we eat.
Pete and I reminisced about sitting on the waterfront in S`ete, a French coastal town in the miniature, close to the border, it could almost be called Catalonian. Our memories came flooding back. We were once again sharing langoustine, sitting on a small round table, its starchy white tablecloth framing a perfect setting at the water’s edge. What a joy it will be to do it all again with the kids.
We talked about other food too. We challenged Ruby to eat a snail in France. And although Sophie couldn’t get her head around taking on the garden variety, she allowed her sister to shake on the deal with her Dad. I was only too happy to agree to sharing frogs legs. In my mind they are like a stringy version of chicken tenderloins coated in caramelised shallots, garlic, and French herbs.
Knickerbocker Glories came up in conversation too. This was a far reaching influence on the evening from Pete’s father (Popps) who has a penchant for salt, sugar and saturated fats. In fact a friend once proclaimed in a broad northern accent that “Ay it were a pattern on a plate he’d et it”.
But back to the Knickerbocker Glory. It’s a layered icecream sundae. They serve it in a tall, conically shaped glass, which has a brim that flares out decoratively like lettuce leaves. It’s eaten on a teaspoon with a handle longer than the glass. These spoons are designed to catch the very last drop of chocolate or caramel or raspberry, or perhaps the last of the cream.
Brucciani’s café on the Morcambe waterfront is infamous. It’s about 10 miles from Pete’s family village and is one of those places that’s accidentally cool. Cool because it has the hallmarks of the (all the rage retro) cream tea drinking, icecream sundae licking experience, while watching the sun twinkle over art deco apartments lining the bay. Accidental because we don’t think it’s a contrived follower of retro fashion. It’s as though the place hasn’t changed since Pete’s childhood.
A good school report at the end of term earned Pete and his sisters a Knickerbocker Glory in any flavour they chose. Ruby’s just had a wonderful report, setting her up for six months of independent learning and the ability to consume knowledge from every new experience she encounters. Perhaps this time next year there’ll be a Knickerbocker Glory on the cards.