Food memories: More vacations and camps
Inspired by Jen from A2eatwrite who'll share her 50 top food memories with us this year, some of mine can be found here, here and here too. But I still have more :)
- When I was 12 my parents wanted a change from the many vacations to Spain and we drove to Yugoslavia. After a long drive through Austria where my sister and I took bets to guess the length of the tunnels and where I manually gave my sister's legs an epilation with a pincet in order to fight boredom (The first was fairly effective but the latter was just extremely boring and cannot get recommended), we arrived in our rented apartment along the Adriatic coast of the current Croatia. It was located above a restaurant ran by a family, with 3 more apartments next to us that were occupied with Italian twenty-somethings.
The diners in the restaurant downstairs were rather uneventful and the grilled meat got a bit repetitive but we got to know the owning family. They introduced the local nightcap to my parents: Slivovitch which is a plum based brandy.
One of the evenings the group of Italians walked in totally waisted, stumbling cheerfully in between the tables. The last bold one stopped briefly at our table with a big grin pointing to our glasses. "Slivovitcha - Sliiiivooovitcha - slivovitch - slivov..." His improvised ode that would not appeal any marketeer echoed up the staircase and continued for a while in the above apartment.
Whenever I see a liquor bottle of Slivovitch or even any liquor with a plum on the label, I can hear him again.
- A few years later we were in Portugal. Although the Portuguese cuisine can surely be recommended, I do not remember the trip mostly for its meals.
But I do remember walking around in some historic harbour somewhere (there's some to choose from if you're there) and there were some barbecues outside grilling fresh sardines. A little further was a reception going on where we could distinguish the purple pileolus of some bishop but the barbecues were temporarily deserted.
Before any of us realized my cousin had taken an unattended fish and had eaten it with much pleasure. Our shock for his swift little theft was overruled by our grumbling stomach and the craving for a little fish for our own. It should be no surprise that only a short while later we were all sitting on an outdoor terrace of one the many little fishermen restaurants where the smell of the many barbecues at their entrance had been like a siren's call to us.
A grilled fresh sardine with a few big flakes of salt and a bun....Delicacies can be so pure and simple!
- Once I had turned 16 I was no longer interested to go on vacation with my parents. My summer holidays were quickly filled with summer camps and student jobs that conveniently didn't leave time anymore to join my parents on their vacations.
Summer camps traditionally stand for big scale tasteless food, but I also have memories about
=> lack of food stress
=> the joy of cold fresh water, something I never liked to drink at home or school but on a camp after a long hike or tiring game....oh gosh water, I could all of a sudden drink & enjoy multiple glasses of it.
=> A deep dislike for yoghurt and other fluid foods that took a long time to wear off again.
=> eating cold pork chops on hikes...something I thought would be disgusting but turned out quit enjoyable to have a decent piece of meat instead of some bruised little sandwiches.
- Belgian students traditionally make a one week long foreign school trip in grade 12. The most conventional schools travel through the historic sites in Italy or Rome during the Easter vacation (zoom in on the St Peter's Square during the Urbi et Orbi by the pope and you'll always distinguish some Flemish school flags waving in the crowd) but my school had always considered that option too expensive and they choose to go to Eastern Europe in the 80ies and in the 90ies Turkey was economically priced enough to head southeast.
And so the plane was filled with approximately 90 girls with racing hormones who discovered immediately that a school of boys was on the same plane for a tour through Turkey as well. The boys would cross our path 3 more times that week which always resulted in a lot of waving, screaming, hanging through the windows and anything else that could help attract attention.
Soon enough we were playing card games on the plane where the loser had to take a dare challenge which was usually something like "go kiss the person in seat 45B". It caused quite some surprised looks from the few adults that were on the flight when we had wrongly guessed a seat and we ended up asking an adult man whether he could be kissed on the cheek for the sake of winning a game. Fortunately Belgians are not afraid of kissing people as a greeting so not much of a challenge there...
The food on the flight was a bigger challenge: sheep meat is a taste you need to acquire and most of us decided not to take that effort. They'd be hungry most of the trip though :p. On the desert we were all unanimous: gross. The little cake looked fine at first sight laying on some sort of sugery syrup. But as soon as we touched it, it seemed to suck up all the syrup like a little sponge releasing it again as soon as we lifted our fork again. In my memory it even made a gargling sound. "Eeek, it's 'sop cake' " (a soap suds cake?) someone yelled and all our appetite was gone.
I kid you not but we received sop cake every single day on our trip and we've never touched it. I got a dare in the card game near the end of our trip to go and ask the Turkish guide the recipe for sop cake in a flattering way without giving away that we were mocking the cuisine he was so proud off. I don't think I could shake off all his suspicion & surprise with my question but I got away with it and gathered the so hated recipe. It's been conventiently lost since.
- Several years ago there was a nightly repetitive scene to be watched at a Cypriot hotel restaurant in the evening: 2 girls laughing and giggling to tears while making suspicious movements on their glass. It turns out they kept receiving night after night "Died coke" according to their bill so they specialized in Coke CPR, which was apparently a hilarious activity.