Sunday, 9 August 2015

By the content of this blog, I should think it's fairly obvious that I love to cook and I love to eat, but my relationship with food runs deeper than that. Food is the ever-present love of my life and the anchor against which all my memories are tethered. Trying to conjure a memory that doesn't involve food is somewhat of a challenge and it’s this that brings meaning to my relationship with food.

Yes, food is fuel in a physical sense, but it's also the life blood behind relationships and emotions. Why else do you think that chicken soup is the remedy for all ills - from flu to break-ups - in more than one country/culture/religion and why does a sandwich always taste better when someone makes it for you. Spaghetti and meatballs can never just be spaghetti and meatballs once you’ve happily twirled it around your fork, slurping away in homage to Lady and the Tramp; lobster won’t continue to be just another fancy dinner once you’ve cracked it open with your hands and shovelled it into your mouth, dripping with butter, overlooking the Atlantic ocean; no matter that you made countless lemon drizzle cakes working every weekend in a cafe for two years when it also happens to be the cake that puts a certain twinkle in your dad’s eye. Perhaps I’m over-romanticising, but when I think about how I love food, why I love food, it’s never because it simply tastes delicious. For me, any dish that is truly delicious - whether it’s a special birthday meal or just another Thursday night at home - becomes a memory in itself and that is why it means so much to me. 

I can’t put a finger on how I came to feel this way, but I suppose it’s because my mum has always had an emotional connection to food. Perhaps it’s her Asian heritage - where when you visit relatives they don’t ask ‘how are you’, they ask ‘have you eaten?’ - that made food her love language. My mum left Kuala Lumpur at 18 to study in London and, for her, the Cantonese restaurants she lived above in Bayswater meant home was never far away. When I visit family in Kuala Lumpur, and eat my favourite noodles, I feel connected to her childhood memories of food, probably because she did so herself many times while living on the other side of the world. 

In fact, food is what’s taking us to Tokyo in September. My parents have lived there on and off for the whole of their married lives; I was born there and lived there again from the age of 10 to 14. Actually, I never much liked living there. It felt uncomfortable to be neither here nor there, looking like I might be half Japanese but never managing to master the language. Darren, on the other hand, has a voracious fascination with the country, having devoured anime cartoons and comic books as a teenager and visiting my parents once with me about 6 years ago. I couldn’t think of a reason I would ever want to go back, now my parents are firmly transplanted back in the UK, but once I started thinking about the food, I couldn’t think of a reason not to. Crispy tonkatsu, skyscrapers made of coloured plates at the conveyor belt sushi, bowl after bowl of silky ramen, triangular onigiri from the konbini. In our heads we've been planning meal after meal, sometimes 5 or 6 a day, and when I think of each and every dish, I somehow fall in love with a place that never quite had a hold on my heart. 

I think I could write this blog post forever so every now and then, as a sort-of series, I want to start sharing recipes and dishes that have a hold on my life, for some reason or another. And, if you like that sort of thing, please make sure you read the books in this reading list round-up; they’re all favourites I read again and again, whether I'm happy or sad, to feel a twinge of nostalgia for someone else's food memories.


  1. I loved reading this post! So many of my memories centre around meals cooked at home or restaurants visited and often a taste will send me back to those moments. My family connect through meals shared and I think it's a wonderful thing.

  2. What a beautiful post! As a family we love sharing food and having big meals together. My mum was a cook for 14 years and my dad also loves to cook, so food was a big part of my growing up too :)

    Thanks for the book recs... I've read Toast and loved it so I'll give the others a go now! x

  3. I can really relate to this and often feel that my own memories are tied to food. Over the years my relationship to it has become healthier and I'm often meal planning or wondering what I'm going to eat for the next meal as I try to make healthier choices.

    Lovely post, I would be interested to know more x

  4. love this post!!! i think there is such a huge emotional connection with the food we eat and the memories they are connected to! xx