Anyway, last night the contestants had to make a dish that summed up their childhood-- cue sentimental sniffles all round the TV kitchen, and much discussion on our sofa about nostalgia food. For me the most evocative food from my long lost youth would definitely be what we called 'cowboy toast'-- white bread dipped in beaten egg, fried until it's golden and fluffy (dripping with artery-clogging cholesterol) and eaten sprinkled with (more coronary-inducing) salt and tomato ketchup. This was what my lovely stepmother often made us on Sunday evenings just before we went back to my mum's house after spending the weekend at my dad's, and it brings back slightly bittersweet, melancholy feelings of things ending; of packing bags and being in transit. For Him, childhood food memories were largely of the glorious age of packaged 1970s delicacies, such as Arctic Roll and Angel Delight, and those deeply unpleasant meat pies that came in tins. No wonder he became a strict vegetarian when he was 16.
For my own daughters, their early years can be summed up by the fairy cake. We've talked about my fairy cake baking habit/obsession before, and I even helpfully/boringly supplied a recipe which will produce 18 delicate, cherry-topped offerings that can be eaten in a couple of mouthfuls. However, it hasn't escaped my notice that these modest staples of my girls' formative years are already looking frighteningly retro, and that today's fairy cakes are bigger, blowsier, and more glamorous, decadent and delicious than anything to come from my own oven so far... Take these, for example, which He and I brought home from a rare child-free day scouring the antique markets of Stafforshire/Derbyshire on Saturday. (The arm in the corner of the picture belongs to daughter #3 who was doing a wild dance of excitement at the prospect of getting her hands on the cake with the chocolate buttons on the top...) I can see I'm going to have to up my fairy cake game.