An observant reader may have noticed that this is my first post in quite a while. You may be intrigued to know that during my last few months of radio silence a whole lot of stuff has affected, left or entered my life in one way or another. In case you’re interested, I’ve put together a list of some important developments, and the foods that punctuate them for me.
Pear and Vanilla Muffins and Engagement
If you’ve spent much time travelling in Western Europe you may be familiar with Paul’s. Strategically placed in major train stations and airports, Paul’s serves expensive but decent sandwiches and bakery treats to weary, hungry travellers.
And so it was, on a bench outside Paul’s in Montparnasse train station, that I said a tearful yes (under the watchful eyes of an elderly French couple who looked like they’d been together for millennia), grabbed a pear and vanilla muffin and settled into my seat on a TGV train speeding away from Paris. My brand new fiancé was within snuggling distance for the first time in months.
The flavour combination in that muffin holds an amazing number of good memories for me now. I even played around with it a little, making a Poached Pear and Vanilla Bean Butter Cake (recipe coming soon) that I am ludicrously proud of.
Mulled Wine and My First Romantic Christmas
This one is cheating a little bit. I mean, if cinnamon, cloves, star anise, vanilla and nutmeg don’t already remind you of the holidays, I have to wonder where you go in December every year.
But anyway, to go along with a magnificent Christmas feast for J and I, I made a pot of mulled wine (I used Jaime Oliver’s recipe from here). It was the first Christmas we had ever spent together, just the two of us. It was also my first ever cold weather Christmas. And this mulled wine was just one more special , decadent, holiday card style touch.
Purple Noses and Existential Angst
In Belgium, as well as their delicious delicious chocolates, they also make other tasty confectionary like purple noses (also called cuberdon, apparently).
They’re a raspberry type flavour (though I believe you can get other flavours), kind of solid but flexible on the outside and liquidy on the inside, and utterly delicious. Unexpectedly so.
J and I had just begun our month and a bit of travel around Europe and I was encountering what became a theme of my musings throughout our travels – who am I anyway? What defines me as a person, and at this moment, where I could really become anything, what person do I want to be?
On the last day of the Brussels Christmas markets we picked up a 600 gram bag of super high quality Belgian chocolates on special for ten euro. And mixed in there were a nice helping of purple noses. And so I spent a night or two lying awake with some embarrassingly intense existential angst going on, sucking the liquidy goodness out of some purple noses.
Chiko Rolls and Home
If there was one food I craved being away from the country of my birth, more than real milk, more than a nice kangaroo steak, it was a chiko roll. That luxurious tube of deep fried, gooey-centred goodness.
I have eaten approximately fifteen thousand chiko rolls since my return to the country, and there’s still not much else that makes me feel so comfy and at home inside. Being away from everything I knew and the culture that’s always surrounded me really made it clear to me how much I love living in Australia, despite all of its flaws. This is my home, and probably always will be.