"The greatest Indian cook in Britain"Jay Rayner "The Observer"
"Cook with love. Love your cooking" Gita Mistry

Monday, 18 June 2012

Growing old but do we have to grow up?

What foods comfort you? What foods make you happy? What foods even make you sad?

Foods help to remind us of days long gone.  Memories of childhood can be conjured in a matter of moments when we decide what to eat.  Like for instance our favourites sweets. Or our first meal after falling ill. Or a dish by a favourite auntie .... But best of all is re-living the experience while eating such food.  A child-like sensation encouraging a playful, trouble free mind.  Sheer delight and relief at the familiar.

I know what I'd choose. Number one would be a buttered  baby chapati straight off the tawer hot and steaming.  My close second, cheese on toast.  A thick plank of bread overflowing with extra mature cheddar and a splashing of Worcester sauce.  Number three would be buckets of the best vanilla ice cream served in waffle cones.  Finally, I love home made rice pudding.

I remember my mother at the cooker finishing off the chapatis. With a her last bit of dough she made a baby roti just for me.    Just what I needed to see me through until lunch.  It made me feel special as it came from the top of the tower of  larger chapattis ready for the feast.

Ice Cream.  Mmmm.   I remember the days of the ice cream van driving up our cobbled back street and seeing everyone's faces light up..I would plead with Mum or Dad until they were persuaded.   I remember running through the kitchen with the pennies clutched tightly in my hand and out of the back door shouting to the other kids not to let him go as I was on my way,   My delight at the choices whilst standing in the queue.

Our monies never stretched to a flake or one of the super dooper lollies.   Instead we made do with double serving of strawberry sauce.   If "Mr Italyo", as we called him, was feeling in a very good mood he would give me a sprinkling of nuts too.  The trouble was that as soon as he saw me and my friends he knew what the order would be.  One cone.  One scoop.   No fancy bits.

I remember thinking that one day I would be able to buy a double cone with two flakes.   I would imagine him saying "Now are you sure you will be able to eat all that?" "No Problem, Mr Italyo.  It's easy peasy."   I'd say.
He was called "Mr. Italyo" because he owned the famous Italian cafe up the road.  I used to see him through the windows of the cafe where the full range of ice cream flavours was served. It was in truth more a transport cafe than a" ristorante or trattoria" and definitely not for kids.  I heard that he served the best breakfast in town.   The "Full English" sign in the window made me think that the cafe was exclusively for the English and that they would be full after eating all that ice cream.  

I still like to take my time in a sweet shop and find the child in me creeps back when marvelling at the choice and colour..The anticipation  makes me feel like it's time never to grow up even as I grow older.  


  1. Gives a whole new meaning to "Full English".

  2. Thank you for a great article, Gita, loved reading it. My childhood comfort food was potatoes mashed with milk and butter - I'd call them creamed, now. And the second one was mince and potatoes - when I make it now, it's never the same twice and I add kinds of spices.

    My comfort food now is Dal and Naan (plain, no butter), or kheer - rice pudding Indian-style. Or Saag Paneer, perhaps - mmm! My adult food favourite, as you can see, is Indian - it's so worth the hour's drive to get there.

    Grow up? Never!

    1. Thank you Ann... glad you enjoyed the read and Dal and nan or roti is a staple in Indian. Delicous too