Quite recently I heard a piece on the radio about a retirement village in Auckland which was raising funds by selling a recipe book. The purpose of the fund- raising was to ensure that money would be available to take the residents out and about on short trips. They particularly like going out to see houses decorated with Christmas lights in December each year.
However this recipe book was not in the usual style of such community based initiatives. The residents and staff in this village were asked to contribute a favourite recipe and to offer a memory or story pertaining to the recipe.
I have a special interest in food and recipes in families having made two family history recipe books for my own family. Food and how we produce and cook it, how we then share it together can offer fascinating details across the generations. So this book caught my interest and the cause was a very good one so I sent off my cheque.
The book contains recipes that date back to the 1930’s through to the present day. So that in the accompanying stories the reader hears about the tough times back in the Great depression days when families were often large and the various ways in which parents stretched meagre resources to ensure growing tummies were filled. It is also a very accurate representation of just how multi-cultural our New Zealand population has become in the 21st century.
There are food anecdotes from England and many, many other countries around the world and plenty from New Zealand that I relate to from stories my Mum told. Stories about picking wild blackberries, boiling a billy, cooking on a coal range, selecting veggies from a large and well-tended garden plot, substituting ingredients when others were scarce or unobtainable.
The means of cooking the recipes include: coal ranges through to modern microwaves and traditional umu. Ingredients range from foraged apples from trees growing alongside the road, to exotic spices, Asian sauces and plants, Pacific island fruit and veggies, European dishes, a very sophisticated dessert and current “off the shelf, ready to use” products.
The book is a fascinating journey through time but also into diverse cultures and the myriad of ways people use food to celebrate occasions and to show their love. Many recipes have been handed down from generation to generation and live on with great affection still.
Food is to be enjoyed and shared and this book offers me a wide range of new recipes to experiment with as well as a “feast” as I sit and enjoy the associated wonderful stories.