Childhood Food Memories

Greetings! Please post your childhood food memories below:

Hanoi. I'm sitting at the back of my mother's bike. My mother gives me a piece of sugar cane. She has prepared me for this for months before we moved to Vietnam. She has told me it is delicious, and that any Western child should be so happy and grateful for being able to eat this.
So, she gives me a piece of it. After all the anticipation of the taste of it, I realise that she hasn't explained to me HOW to eat it. It looks like a piece of branch: hard, cold, inedible. Because my mother is biking and I am sitting at the back of the bike, I can experiment without her noticing. I stick it into my mouth. I don't taste anything. I try to break it with my teeth: but the piece of sugar cane is unbendable. I decide to just suck on it. And then, slowly, there it comes: the taste of sugar, but not normal sugar like we have in Holland. It has an odd, sharp taste to it. I am very satisfied. I suck the piece of sugar cane until there is not flavour left. Then comes the problem of disposing the evidence; at this point I don't realise that you're supposed to just throw the old piece of sugar cane on the streets of Hanoi, like any normal Vietnamese kid would do. I am doubting whether I am supposed to actually eat the stringy pieces of tasteless sugar cane left in my hand, or whether I should give it to my mother, so that she can throw it in a garbage bin somewhere.
I end up by hiding it in my pocket. I throw it in our garden at the end of the day, where I later see a pig munching it, greedily.


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De Broodversierder

Summer holidays in the late eighties. We are in the Netherlands, on Walcheren, at De Schotsman. A windsurfer’s paradise. A home away from home. Dad’s off surfing, and in the camper van I’ll treat myself to one more – and there is always one more – slice of the soft white bread (which we would seldom have at home proper) with butter and Hagelslag, the famous and almighty Dutch chocolate grains for breakfast (which is outright forbidden at home proper).
The bread bends under the pressure of the knife with the cold, unmanageable butter. Of course it tears and breaks under my excited, clumsy hands. But I don’t care. There is a chunk of butter in the middle, and it spreads like a brick: not at all. But that’s not the point. The need for manners has left with the rest of the family this morning, and now only my personal little cravings are in charge. Sure enough, the uneven thing suits me fine: It Will Do!
The focal point now is to apply the chocolate layer. So I pull the little white notch out, with that creaky characteristic sound of cardboard on cardboard. Inside the grains make a light and cheerful sound that matches my anticipation. And before I even know I just pour and pour a thick layer onto the crumbled and bending bread, with a multitude of small grains falling first onto the cold butter where they stick.
Then, once the surface is covered while I am yet still pouring and pouring, they bounce off their companions onto the plate, and off the plate, and onto the table, and off the table, and further down onto the sandy camper van’s floor. It gives all credit to their apt naming: De Echte Chocolade Hagel. A right mess it is, and oh so beautiful. And that inimitable, soothing, yet promising sound. This multitude of gushing ticks and clicks and pings … ah, you gotta love it!
The distorted remainder of the soft white bread is now hardly visible under a large heap of chocolate, and I am fingerlicking forward to the best, yet most unmanageable bit: The Fold! Bending the sides of the slice together from its four corners, I carefully form a bag. There is Hagelslag raining out at the sides and where the cold butter tore the soft cushioning texture of the bread.
I carefully but swiftly lift the treasure over my head and try to fit as much of it into my mouth. All the while evenly dispersing more of the precious stuff all over plate, table and floor.
It’s raining chocolate!
I’ll reign in chocolate!
Biting off half of the folded bump, the rest falls apart and I only just manage to land it on the table. More of De Echte Chocolade Hagel all over.
A huge chunk of lose, chocolaty grains and saliva absorbing white bread is now slowly disintegrating in my gratefully savouring mouth under the slow churn of my teeth.
As I carefully peek out of the van, my Dad’s windsurfing sail is still at a save distance from the shore.
Having finished the remains from the plate and swept the rest out of the van. I press my finger onto a single grain on the table that I have so far failed to clean away. I carefully lift the sticking thing before my eyes, then press thumb and index finger hard onto each other, so that half of the pulverised grain is on each finger. I lick it off with a delicious shudder descending on my spine. I really cannot get enough of this. Hey, I am ten years old … or something.

(P.S.: hehe, please note that I am not ten years old in the pictures. They are from another, non-fictional, trip some years later. This is a recurring theme, you know. It is all about putting the chocolate into windsurfing, I guess.)

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