Tuesday, 22 May 2007

The detours of our lives

Yesterday we detoured, got lost, reminisced and all in all had a jolly nice day. We ended up in Kendal which used to be in Westmorland (which no longer exists) but is now a part of Cumbria which now takes in all of what was Cumberland where I grew up, Westmorland and part of Northern Lancashire.
Any way Kendal is famous for Kendal Mint Cake as every hiker will tell you an absolute must when hiking in England's Lake District.
Removing the wrapper immediately I thought it didn't have the same sharp white colour I remembered as a child. There was a certain inspidity about it, the taste was OK. But a lot sweeter than I remembered.
Sue grinned and bore it. The eating of ethnic food is always a trial to those who have not grown up with it! And we Australians forget that there is is as much disgusting English ethnic food as there is Sauerkraut in Germany, frog's legs in France or dogs in Korea.
There is of course brawn, made from pig's head, black pudding made from pig's blood...and of course sausages are just an excuse to eat anything that you shouldn't really eat!
Many times I have found that the fond memories of the food of my childhood have been tempered by the fact that we now eat next to no animal fat if we can avoid it, our children have never known vegetables cooked with a handful of salt. And everything these days has a quarter of the sugar it had in the 50s.
This I think was the Kendal Mint Cake shock, it had the sugar content of my childhood rather than the plastic content of today.
Food is an interesting example of our distorted memory, but perhaps not the important one (We often seem to trivialise ethnicity back to food and music and dancing...when really it is about the ways people relate to each other).
So one has to be careful talking to family you haven't seen for decades, or to whom you are genetically connected but with whom you have little or no shared experience. I watched my cousin wince as my wife deflated an image of one of my closer relatives...did he really want to know what she was actually like or did he prefer the sharp taste and stark colour contrast of childhood.
It's good stuff, as we make these detours into our dreams. But we are reminded by Yeats:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams.

No comments: