Friday, December 3, 2010

COMFORT FOOD

                                                                 Mom, dad, my brother and I at age 10

I pretty much grew up with little memory of comfort food. As a child I don't remember food being used as a means to appease, to cajole or to numb.

But if I close my eyes and think hard enough, the nearest thing to comfort food would probably be a thick, dark and sweet soy sauce. The Indonesian kind. And that was not even a dish. It was a condiment. 

Nevertheless that is what brings me back to my childhood, the foodie way. Mom mixed it into white rice with filleted fried fish. I savoured every grain of rice and the pieces of fish that clung to it. 

That and Wood's Peppermint Cough Syrup. Oh boy did I love that stuff. I relished the minty, the sweet and the slight bitterness in it. I secretly devoured spoonfuls of the caramel-like panacea clean off the spoon when I wasn't sick. And occasionally toothpaste. I loved that too. (I know....)

Before you go off thinking that I had a deprived and warped childhood...don't. It wouldn't be fair to my parents. We lived comfortably. We enjoyed our meals. But food wasn't the centre of our universe. It wasn't a topic for conversations. Eating was not a form of escapism under stressful conditions or an obsession that my parents encouraged even on a subconscious level. In short, food wasn't at the top of our minds...at least not mine. 

I was too busy frolicking and living an extended childhood. I don't think I ever wanted to grow up. When I remember picnics it is the activity rather than the food that lingers on in my mind.

I never did want to give up the feel of cold, perky water caressing my ankles as I stood squealing in the stream, or the sound of rustling leaves around me, or of the rain that pelted down like bullets, or of the laughing wind that l imagined lifted me and my umbrella a few inches off the ground one sweep at a time, or the abandoned drains that my brother and I crawled through, or our L-shaped house that stood patiently on the hill, or the tree that humoured me or the excitement I partook in the adventures of The Famous Five. Comfort, for me, was in the living. Not in the food.

I'm glad there were no barriers in my childhood at the time. We were free to roam and lose ourselves in our 'wilderness'.  Food wasn't the living force. The world was.

But the world, as I know it now, no  longer opens its arms in welcome, safety and comfort to our children. And buildings have sprouted in places where once there was vegetation. So for my children and theirs, comfort, I suppose, has to be found in food.

Like a  Cappuccino Brownie Cheesecake. For some reason I feel like one right now. Or perhaps I'll have that after a large plate of spicy, hot and confusing Mamak Fried Noodles. I'll admit that these are insanely comforting.....but only because I'm not up to climbing up trees or crawling through drains anymore.

                   Surviving the 'wilderness', aged 6

23 comments:

Raspberry Recipes said...

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Pam said...

Love the picture of you and your brother with your cute jeans on!

Anonymous said...

I loved the Famous Five too! And wished I could have attended Malory Towers with Darrell Rivers... *sigh*... nice memories.... Having lived away from Singapore now for some time, I think my comfort food was "jok" or rice porridge. Or watercress soup with grainy rice whilst recovering from the flu. I think. It was some sort of tasty soup with a veggy, I know that for sure!

mary-anne

Anonymous said...

p.s. Nice family pics!

m-a

Elizabeth said...

Zurina, you are so cute!

Elin said...

I am from the same era like you and as I was reading this post...you brought me back to memory lane....yess...food was never the centre of our universe :)

Love that last picture :p your posing was cute...I bet your dad would shiver to see you hold that gun if it were real LOL!

terri@adailyobsession said...

you look just like your mom, a beauty and your bro, just like your dad, a handsome gentleman:)) precious family photos, beautiful!

busygran said...

What beautiful memories of your childhood!

Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) said...

Thanks for sharing these lovely pictures, black and white photo somemore, I must dig some of my old photos and make record into my PC.

Barbara said...

Yes, in terms of child safety, things have certainly changed over the years. The good thing is, kids being raised now will know no other way. My kids played outside and roamed with no worry and as long as they were home in time for dinner, all was well. No longer. :(

However, because my grandmother owned a bakery and both she and my mother were fabulous cooks, food was important in our house.

Loved your childhood photos!

MaryMoh said...

You look so pretty! Lovely account of your childhood. I love The Famous Five, too :D

Linda said...

I adore this post...you are so adorable as a little Zurin! Wonderful pics...
My childhood comfort food was and still is a bowl of my Mom's chicken soup...

Ellie (Almost Bourdain) said...

Zurin, love love love your pictures. Thanks for sharing. Oh...all the food and the nostalgic aspect of it.

Sophie said...

Hello Zurin,

Thanks for sharing with us!! Lovely & funny pictures too!

La Table De Nana said...

Such a cute little girl..I must say I love looking at the few photos of myself as a child..YOu look..and you just know you were loved by our faces don't you find?

Yes I love them..Zurin are you twins with your brother?

Indonesia Eats said...

Hi Zurin, I enjoy those photos!

Anyway, have you ever seen the kecap manis bango brand before? Thou, that brand isn't the one that I grew up, but it's pretty close to my chilhood's kecap manis.

Cherry On A Cake said...

Hi everyone :) tq for visiting and your lovely comments. please forgive me that I cant reply to each one of yours individually. I do feel very bad but time simply doesnt allow. Please know that I appreciate and treasure each and every one of your comments and thank you for taking the time to come and leave a word. I enjoy reading your comments as much as I do blogging. I do.:)))

Monique,

Yes we do know that we are loved. The faces tell it all.:)

My brother is 2 years older than I am. I was propped up on a cushion by the photographer so that I wouldnt look too tiny next to him :)) It was so funny :)

pigpigscorner said...

Food wasn't for us too, but somehow, it "grew" with our family =)

Cherry On A Cake said...

Indonesia eats,
I have nt heard of bango brand. Mayb I shd look for it but i doubt thay have it here though. Thanks for dropping by :))

percicilan said...

what a pretty little girl you were !!
does your brother live in our neighbourhood too?

Clare @ Mrs Multitasker said...

Oh look at you Zurin you were (and I'm sure are) so so pretty! Thanks for sharing the lovely pictures. I have some baby pictures I set aside months ago for blogger purposes too but haven't figured out when to feature them =)

Through My Kitchen Window said...

I found this post most touching zurin. Love the photo of your family. Such a handsome looking family. There was much to relate to - I loved the Famous Five too. Hmm. I feel that the focus on food is too concentrated. It's all about the food now, whereas the food should be part of the occasion. Not the sole focus. Anyhow, you have given us lots of 'food for thought'. Mariana xx

Umi said...

Ya Allah, you look like a Malaysian actress, Fauziah Ghouse.. so pretty

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