One thing that I typically don’t lack in life at the moment is time. And so that’s one factor that influences a lot of people in their cooking that I usually find it difficult to sympathise with, from lack of experience really. If I feel like having a stew sitting on the stove for a few hours, or like spending half an hour making hollandaise sauce for a special surprise breakfast, I can generally just do that.
However, I am certainly not above a bit of pre-packaged, pre-packaged goodness.
Some of my favourite memories involve tubs of icing or tubes of sweetened condensed milk or freezer apple danish. You may have noticed that I’m a bit of a sweet tooth, but I’m sure there are equivalents for people who like savoury things – jerky maybe? Every time I eat something naughty and delicious and pre-prepared, I have all sorts of wonderful memories coming back. Anyway, I present to you now a cherished childhood memory that is inexorably linked with food (come to think of it, most of them are, aren’t they):
I grew up with the coast five minutes walk one way and an estuarine lake five minutes in the other direction. This meant an abundance of seafood, and every year on the best nights of the year out we’d go with our nets and buckets and torches to prawn. When we were especially young Nan used to keep my brother and I with her in the little creek near our house, but this memory is of one of the first times I was allowed out in the boat on the lake with the men.
We get our waders on, the boat is put on the water, we climb in and off we go out into the night. The salt air whisks by and the waves glow on the tops, while pop shines the big torch across the lake for the reflectors in the trees to lead us to the Secret Spot. We pull the boat up on the sand and Luke and I explore a little, waiting for the tide to turn. And extra coat of Aeroguard is often called for at this point.
Time draws closer and the water stops dead still. Torches shone over the water show the red eyes of the prawns as the water moves again and they come with it. And in we go. The sting rays drift in to investigate the lights and our nets dip in and out. All you can hear are the little splashes the prawns make as they find themselves trapped in the nets, the occasional “Oooh, that’s a big’un” or a “Gottim”. And my terrible tone-deaf singing.
I had looked in Nan’s fridge before we left, and to my delight there was apple danish just waiting for me when we got home. And so I sang, “Aaaaaaaaple Danish! Apple Daaaaaaaaaaaanish! So sweeeeeeeeet and yummyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy! Apple Danish!” I sang for three hours as we dipped and scooped and splashed.
And when we finally got home, Mum put me in a hot shower, my pajamas and robe and I sat up with a big bowl of apple danish while Pop cooked the prawns in the copper. And of course I sampled a few when they were done. There’s no better way to have prawns than fresh with apple danish. And there’s no better feeling than something sweet in your belly and the love of the whole world in your fresh warm jammies.