Food dating

I love what Kate and Jono are doing in Joburg with their Mess. It’s fun and thought-provoking and human, and looks goddamn delicious. I especially liked their recent observations about food dating. (Not dating as in internet dating or speed dating, but more like carbon dating. No maybe not like that either.)

Anyway, I immediately found myself thinking of what would add to my food dating list…

Roasted vegetables. 1992. Especially roast garlic. And chocolate brownies.

Stacks. 1993. (Well – 1983 for some – see below…)

Nut loaf. So 1972. So American. So vegetarian.

Cherry pie. 1990. Kyle Maclachlan, Twin Peaks. Swoon.

Stuffed mushrooms. 1985. Revived in 1997. Garlic, breadcrumbs, blue cheese. Easier than our mothers made out.

Pear and blue cheese salad. 1998.

Sushi. 2000. Nigiri and california rolls and sashimi and home made maki rolls with bits of sushi rice all over the mat.

Sushi. 2001. Inside out rolls and more sashimi.

Sushi post-2002. Rainbow rolls. Rainbow nation rolls. Ponzu sauce and 7-spice.

Sushi post-2009. Japanese salad.

(Sushi is kind of indomitable, and will be til we fish out the oceans entirely.)

I’m so with Kate and Jono on early 90’s Tex-Mex. Though chilli poppers and frozen margaritas were quite 2001 in my book.

2012: They say ceviche. I’m with that. But I’d also predict: Okonomiyaki. And in general, Japanese without the fish. Daikon and pickled ginger and nori in unexpected places. Yes please.

Their lovely post brought back a strange vivid memory for me (bear with me; it’s been a week of unexpected appearances from the past.) I was about 9 years old and my great-aunt and uncle had ferried myself and my brother along to Shabbat dinner at some friends of theirs in Newlands. We sat at a dark (stinkwood? mahogany?) table in their dark Newlands flat. The friends were occultists, exceptionally warm and welcoming people, who spoke as easily and familiarly of the dead as they did of that morning’s weather. So 9-year-old me found this spellbinding. But competing for my attention was the artful arrangement on each plate. That’s right – it was 1983, and I was having my first encounter with “plated” food. Never before had I seen individual portions stacked – presented! – in an artful fashion, adorned with ribbonlike julienne vegetables  in the centre of each plate. (It would be another 15 years or so til I actually came across the word “plating”. Not that I do much of it myself.) Dessert was chocolate mousse, something I’d only seen before ladled out from a big serving dish into bowls of (admittedly lovely) chocolatey stickiness. This was presented in magical scoops with some sort of intense, silky chocolate… I didn’t know what to call it (again, it would be years before I could put the word to it – ganache – how lovely is that word?), and a crumbly homemade biscuit – again, all artfully composed on the plate. The evening was altogether a revelation – thanks to Kate and Jono for bringing it all back to me in a heady rush. What will we be remembering with such nostalgia in the 2030s, I wonder.

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About Lisa

I live in South Africa with my husband and two small children, doing things, thinking about things and sometimes writing about them.
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