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A Great Brak River and Surrounds Community Newspaper

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 Published by Targa Publishing all rights reserved - 2016 No content of this website or Tabloid may be reproduced in any form without the consent of the owners. CONTACT DETAILS Advertising Sales    Mike 	   	  044 620 4042      									  sales @ greatbrakpost.co.za Editorial Content     Laurinda   	  082 738 8011       									  ed.gbp @ greatbrakpost.co.za Article & Proofing	   Marianne	  	  072 025 0153      									  articles @ greatbrakpost.co.za

MEMORIES OF FOOD IN YOUR

CHILDHOOD

by Gill Dugmore When I was big enough to be sent to the shops, a whole new world opened for me. Gone were the limited horizons bound by the neat and fenced gardens of my suburb. “Down the road” meant no less than the Main Road, and that’s where the shops were. Oh, the thrill of marching down my street with two shillings in one hand, and the shopping list in the other, smiling reassuringly at the neighbours who worried that I was going further than I should without permission. On I strode, empowered by my mother’s trust, and reciting to myself the safety mantra, ‘look right, then left, then right again’ as I approached the fearsome crossing. “Buy the light things first” my mother had said, so my first stop would be Chavda’s. With difficulty, because of the money and the list, I press my palms together. “Namaste’, I greet old Mrs Chavda. She sits swathed in an aura of incense and silk sari, betel nut skin making a backdrop for her gold jewellery. Ruby eyes of a flat headed cobra bracelet glint malevolently as her tiny hands expertly wrap the fresh ginger and garlic into a tight packet. “Nothing falling out now”, she smiles. Next stop is the Greek café. It is always dim inside, and the smell of it so indelibly printed in my sensory bank, that I recognised it when I visited Greece decades later. “Kalimera”, say I, showing off how I have remembered what old Spiro taught me. A cackle of approval comes out from the shadow, and as I expect, I am rewarded with a single fat icing dusted almond encrusted kourabiethes. I am very glad that she didn’t give me one of the Fly Cemeteries, which lie on a tray next to the shop window. They look good, these slabs of pastries, filled with raisins, but sadly, on top, there are always a couple of big black flies who died of concussion after head butting the glass. On the way to the Chemist with my icing sugar mouth, I am already imagining the chopped ginger and garlic releasing their fragrance into the hot olive oil. I learned that early from my mother. “Don’t expect anything exceptional from sunflower oil”, she’d say, releasing the Mediterranean gold into a swirl onto the surface of an ancient cast iron pan. Like a votive offering. “Shalom, Uncle Jack,” I say to the chemist. He isn’t my real uncle, but he had supplied tins of milk for me during my infancy in the war years, and he really liked my mom. Short and fat, his bald head shining, his warm hug always smelled of Dettol and baby power.  “Rennet”, he reads from my list. “What’s she making now?” “Haloumi cheese”, I tell him proudly. He shrugs and smiles indulgently. “Haloumi Shaloumi”, and popping a sample of perfume into the packet, winks at me confidentially. “She’ll love this”. Last stop is the scary one. The brothers da Silva’s Fish shop. Javier looks like a Red Roman, and Diego’s narrow face is that of a Barracuda. I hope they don’t recognise me, so I avert my face and say “Bom Dia” to soften them up. I ask for a pound of fresh Hake. Javier cuts and trims it on the grey slab of marble. He wraps it in newspaper. “Obrigado”, I thank him and pay. Back on the pavement, I think with a mixture of fun and guilt how the gang of kids in my road had stood on boxes outside the da Silva bathroom one evening, and had seen both brothers in the bath, peeling a pile of potatoes for the next days chips. Food has a great place in my childhood memories. Savage competition between my aunts resulted in dizzying accomplishments. Whose gravy was the richest and brownest; whose dumplings floated like fluffy clouds to the top of the stew; whose kichel was paper thin, and why the Tzimmes with both prunes and carrots was infinitely superior. Our food was always made with love and shared with many. To this day, the tradition continues.

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