Accessing Childhood Tastes

The other day a package arrived at our house. It was an eight inch square box addressed to my husband. “What could it be?” I thought. When he got home a smile spread over his face. He had ordered a favorite food from his childhood; a food nowhere to be found on the shelves of supermarkets in the Northeast and a love he has passed on to our children – boiled peanuts.

I’ve written in other posts about those things that we miss when we have settled as adults in a world far different from the one we knew as children. Beyond the land, people, transportation and more is that which we daily experienced – the food. The mere taste of a meal can send us across countries or oceans and suddenly we are back in a childhood home, where dahl and rice are served three to four times a week and chapatis with hamburgers or peanut butter and jelly are far more the norm than bread and jam. Where boiled peanuts or gulab jamuns are on your grocery store shelf, not an airmail package away

So it brings me to the question: how far are you from your childhood tastes? How far do you have to drive to get that Mango Lassi? The fresh hummus and stuffed grape leaves? The Pad Thai or the Paella? Is it just around the corner, two hours away or across the ocean?

Those visceral responses to tastes and smells can be the difference between knowing you can cope and thinking you can’t. Are cities places that are easier for the global nomad to settle simply because they come with their plethora of eateries and ethnic grocery stores? Are these seemingly simple but critical pieces to adjustment in a place far from where we were raised and feel we belong?

So two questions for those who are global nomads, third culture kids, adult third culture kids or anybody who is now living in a place far from their childhood home: How far are you from accessing those tastes?  Does it make a difference in your ability to adjust?

RELATED POSTS:

25 thoughts on “Accessing Childhood Tastes

  1. I loved having Ritz crackers with peanut butter with Gramma K when I visited! Although I am not an ex-pat or TCK, moving from one region of the country to another left me longing for Italian Water Ice. New England calls them ‘snow cones’…..anyone from Philly know what I mean?

    Like

  2. I had chana masala with naan yesterday – delish!! And that was in the heart of Sydney. Recently I discovered that there was a Pakistani restaurant in Lakemba where we went for dinner together – it was mouth watering!!! Aloo palak wasn’t quite the same as in Jhelum but still… the jalfrezi was pretty nose-watering good! Since then I’ve discovered another couple of Pakistani restaurants and a Nepalese one I want to try. I find that it’s hard to find a good ‘authentic’ taste Pakistani restaurant. The Indian restaurants just aren’t the same! Have a look at this skit from Goodness Gracious Me… cracks me up every time!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpStoROu0XE

    Like

    1. We just discovered a Pakistani restaurant about 2 miles from our house – AMAZING. The goat curry and chapatis make me feel like I’m back in Pakistan as does the decor and the family who owns it complete with shalwar kameez – I’m going to watch the video clip right now.

      Like

  3. I live in a city surrounded by Indians, Pakistanis, Chinese & Arabs. When a bunch of MK’s recently visited our city with their parents, I was able to take them to stores that sell comfort foods from their countries. Some of them hadn’t been overseas in a while and thought it was fun to find jalabi and Turkish yogurt drink. I found it interesting that many of them loved cookies or candy that were actually made in Europe and then imported to their Asian country.

    Like

    1. Anne this comment reminded me of how excited I was to buy digestive and Nice biscuits in England. So fun that you were able to take people around to get their comfort foods and what an amazing city to live in.

      Like

      1. Marilyn, you can get Digestive and Nice biscuits in Canada – made by Peek Freans – I just bought some chocolate covered Digestives this weekend when I was home. BTW, does Anne live in Toronto? You can get almost anything from almost anywhere in TO. When I go home I always get licorace (better in Canada) and Mr. Christie’s Arrowroot cookies. Also like Dad’s Chocloate chip cookiesand Canadian Smarties – like M&Ms only with milk chocolate.

        Like

  4. Marilyn, It is so fun to read the comments and recognize names from your mother’s book. You are not born yet, but they are on the ship traveling back to the states for furlough :-)

    Like

  5. A new Indian restaurant recently opened in the town I now call home. I have been to it a couple times, and the food is pretty good. What I wouldn’t give, though for some real naan. It seems that the people making the food have forgotten about whole wheat flour.

    However, a real “comfort food” for me is sujee made the way we used to have it, where the cereal is roasted before cooking. You try to give it to someone who only had pasty cream of wheat, and they are surprised how much better is tastes toasted. My wife and my children are sold on it. There is nothing like a nice hot bowl of sujee on a cold winter morning.

    Like

    1. This comment brought back the best memories! I grew up on sujee on cold mornings in Murree in Pakistan, and actually in Sindh as well during the winter. Sujee with gur syrup and fresh cream – amazing and so comforting. Can’t even be compared to cream of wheat….!

      Like

      1. That rhubarb patch was amazing! The first fall at 8-acre woods a friend gave me some rhubarb and I took it home and just stuck it in the ground near the back steps – it was just sand and gravel, and I never did a thing to make it grow. We had FREE rhubarb, and enough to give awayfrom June through August. I have a very hard time paying real money for rhubarb!! Micah, Grandpa’s favorite is rhubarb pie. He always wants it for his birthday. so glad you remember it.

        Like

  6. There are a million so called Mexican restaurants in the USA but they almost never live up to my memories. Luckily my boyfriend is a great cook in whips up amazing salsas to go with our tacos!

    Like

    1. It’s amazing to watch international students want to learn to cook, so badly do they miss the food from their homes! Totally agree with you about Mexican food – we have been to Mexico several times, and the home made tortillas, carne, salsa and everything else cannot be compared to the United States! You are lucky! So the way to your heart was partially through your taste buds eh?!

      Like

  7. I must brag on wife Bettie. She ocasionally prepares a Pakistani dinner for us and our children who grew up in Pakistan. For example, the other evening we had chicken tikka, dhal, pilau, naan, hot mango chutney, yogurt, and even mango lassi! Our home-cooked Pakistani food is much better than we get in the two local Indian restaurants in our town. Our children have passed on their love for Pakisani food to their children too so when Bettie prepares such a dinner we have a full house!

    Like

    1. This sounds mouth-watering! I agree with home cooked Pakistani food being far better than restaurants. Where does she get the spices? We too have passed on our love for Pakistani food to the next generation – would love to join you at that table some day!

      Like

  8. We are now in the land of the boiled peanut…come visit!! :) And this immediately brought to mind Grandma’s mac and cheese with Ritz crackers crumbled on top. YUM!

    Like

      1. I make it slightly different in that I don’t use Velveeta cheese :), but I do put the crackers on top. I also love to make her corn chowder…Judi has this super easy recipe and I LOVE it!!

        Like

    1. Posted on incredible, that was a very good read. In csocluoinn, someone who actually thinks and understands what they are blogging about. Quite difficult to find of late, especially on the web . I bookmarked your web blog and will make sure to keep coming back here if this is how you always write. thank you, keep it up! .

      Like

Add to the discussion...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s