The Taste of Home

I was listening to the radio in the car the other day and at the end of the interview the interviewer posed a question.

“What is the taste of home for you?”

He said Hush Puppies were his taste of home. I thought hush puppies were shoes but it sounded interesting. Then the other presenters chimed in and they all had an answer. A passionate, ‘mamas cooking’ kind of answer. Anyway then I had to think what the taste of home was for me. I have been pondering this for days now.

I have gone through the foods from my childhood thinking it might be one of them. A roast of mutton with crunchy roast potatoes. Steak and cheese pie. Summer warm garden never-been-chilled tomato and fresh basil on Vogel’s toast. Maybe marmite on toast. Or fish and chips out of newspaper with old fashioned Watties tomato sauce that has no sugar added! Avocado from the trees on Charlie’s orchard!

Then I got hung up on the word ‘home’. I have felt at home in a number of different places. Many of them while traveling alone. So the tastes from all these homes might be The Taste. Edamame – hot with salt at Wagamama in a broken down shopping area in Angel, London. Paella in a tiny Spanish restaurant a little walk from Smithfield in London – (I was not alone that time!). Homemade Pesto and Pasta with piles of Parmesan cheese eaten at a marble table overlooking the Mediterranean on the Amalfi coast in Italy (alone). Potato Salad ( with everything in it) in Prague in a tiny underground bar (alone). Warm Pizza Bianca bought from a hole in the wall on the streets of Paris ( alone but not for long).

Water infused with cucumber at the Termemilano Baths in Milan – not alone that time either and it felt like home with family. That scented water.

Custard Squares and Sally Lunns from the bakery on Emerson Street in Napier, New Zealand. ( never alone).

Can each one of these be my home? That would suit me and my Gypsy Caravan tastes. ( I have always wanted to live in a gypsy caravan but one with walls that would lift out to let all the light in. I have never liked walls). Don’t let me get distracted.

What would your taste of home be?

What taste would I associate with my present home – fried eggs on toast? Eggs from our chickens and home made bread from wheat grown in my fields. Hash browns? Probably hash browns: homemade from newly dug potatoes. Like the ones I had on Friday evening – with a book and two dogs and the potato dug straight out of the ground.

It has been an interesting exercise trying to nail down the taste of home and it has underscored the essential feeling of homelessness that immigrants and motherless women often feel. Though I know many immigrants and emigrants who have found their homes in a new land. I find home in many places. But when I talk of going home- I mean New Zealand.

Have a lovely day – it is perfect weather here this morning. Sparkly. I am going outside to get you some photos.

Are you thinking now? About your taste of home? Would you like to tell us? The Fellowship of the Farmy? We would love to hear about your taste of home.

miss c

78 Comments on “The Taste of Home

  1. My mom’s Christmas lasagna with the homemade sauce, passed down from my greatgrandmother, that had been cooking all day on the stove and where the smell permeates the house when I walked in the door from wherever I was living at the time.
    x The Captain

  2. Homemade egg noodles covered in gravy with chicken bits. Fresh peas and new small potatoes in a white sauce. Chuck roast with potato, onion, and carrots. Sweet corn on the cob at the perfect time. If still hungry, add a BLT or a pepperoni pizza with pesto sauce. Now I am hungry.

  3. Fried zucchini flowers at a Mexican restaurant in a tiny town, Madonnucia in Tuscany.

    My sister’s risotto with clams at her home in Southern Ontario.

    There are so many more but these came to mind immediately.

  4. Fellow immigrant motherless woman here… From my childhood home, my mother’s traditional Dutch pancakes, thick and loaded with speck, with a dark cane syrup drizzled over them. For my 20s and 30s, paella with giant prawns, and the season’s early baby leeks roasted in wet newspaper in a wood stove at my father’s house in Spain. And for my immigrant home, a thick, sinfully rich hot chccolate with whipped cream in Koko Black in Melbourne…

      • The leeks are delicious cooked that way. Picked while still slender, just a bit thicker than your thumb, trimmed, washed and well wrapped in damp newspaper and slid into a pizza oven. They become tender and sweet.

  5. What a great post! I haven’t stopped by for awhile and realized how much I have missed reading your posts! Home tastes like fried macaroni and cheese— first made by my grandma, then my mom and now me. It is the ultimate comfort food foe me.

      • A Grandma Bonnie creation! Cook elbow macaroni, fry in electric skillet in butter till a little brown (I love when some is crispy), add 2-3 whisk d eggs, cook until egg is done and then add. Small cubes of cheddar cheese. Continue heating till melted and stir frequently. Perfect comfort food even if it’s not 100% healthy. 😊

  6. Pinto beans cooked with seasoning meat and onions with large chunks of potato added and cooked in with the beans toward the end. This accompanied with cornbread cooked in cast iron skillet on the stovetop. Yum!

  7. I have to go way back to childhood. The two things that always signal home at that time are coconut cream pie made with a graham cracker crust and piled high with homemade whipped cream- always for my father’s birthday. The second a bolognese style sauce filled with garlic and cooked for hours in a cast iron pot. We knew it was ready when it turned a deep, rich brown.

  8. This one does open a lot of emotion. Home isn’t a word I relate to well. I’m at address #35 and probably moving at least one more time. Home is wherever I’m staying at the moment. But I think, like you, my country of origin will be home in my heart. Lebkuchen found here only at Christmas time and imported from Germany helps ground me in my German roots and first language. Then there is the Schokokuss I would buy with any money I could get as a 7-9 year old walking to the bakery alone. Sweets always soothed me. Why couldn’t it be veggies. The smell and taste of fresh Brotchen or dark rye with Braunschweiger grounds me in my roots. When my mother finally learned to cook just before I left home, she figured out how to make the bread and potato balls with stew meat gravy that the whole family still equates with her. When I go back to Germany, it’s the brotchen and rye bread I hunt down like a bird dog. I hope to make it one more time because it just doesn’t come close here. My gypsy feet are itching to get on with it. Maybe I can sell my trailer in time for Oktoberfest and a good Hefeweizen 🙂

    • I am still hunting for a perfect rye bread recipe. Funny how the flour from a certain country tastes different! Water too.
      I know about those gypsy feet- mind too!

    • Pumpernickel with fresh unsalted butter and rookvlees topped with dill pickle. Speculaas and olieballen at Christmas. Rookworst cooked with apple, red cabbage, onion, red capsicum and caraway seeds…. Fresh fried herring (lekkerbekjes) and fries with mayonnaise or pindersaus. You and I speak a similar food language!

        • We love our northern European tastes… Besides, it’s where I do my gourmandising these days. I’m 20kg down, and now that i’m diabetic so many delicious things are beyond my reach….

            • The weight gain started with the steroid treatment during chemotherapy, increased when I was immobile after spinal surgery, and has slowly crept up over the years since. I was insulin resistant for many years, but tipped over the threshold in May, at which point it was a major wake-up. I’m hungry a lot of the time, but have made my peace with the hunger, and eat enough to support my activity and no more. You’re entirely right. Eating less is good, necessary and better for us.

  9. The taste of home isn’t so much the food itself–it ‘was’ the whole family sitting around a holiday table–we usually had the same menu for each holiday dinner–turkey and all the trimmings for Thanksgiving–ham for Christmas and Easter–! My Mom was a good cook–but with simple foods–like mac and cheese–roast beef with carrots and potato’s –fried chicken and mashed potato’s—the one dish I loved and really miss was her casserole of leftover beef-gravy-vegetables with fresh biscuits baked on the top–oh–yummmm! And she made a great German chocolate cake with the coconut/pecan frosting–my birthday cake favorite–!!
    Thanks for the memories-

  10. My mom’s hot German potato salad in the summer with homemade lemonade, my dad’s fried leftover potatoes with scrambled eggs mixed in on weekend mornings, the icebox cookies that originally were my paternal grandmother’s recipe that my mom “fixed” (grandma was a little stingy with ingredients) that were always a part of the Christmas holiday and the chicken casserole my late husband made from time to time.

  11. Great question! Bacalao a la llauna – salt cod cooked in olive oil with garlic. I can smell it in the air, when I get off the Aerobus at Plaça de la Universitat in Barcelona.
    That was a lovely day out in Smithfield 😉

  12. My mom’s fried chicken, her Christmas yeast rolls, cranking ice cream on the summer grass and getting the first taste from licking the paddles, Good memories. 😊.

  13. Oyster dressing reminds me of home. We only ate it at Thanksgiving and Christmas and we all loved that dish so much. We didn’t even have a recipe for it. Now I’m the only one left of my family so when I make it and eat it, I remember those wonderful times when we were all together.

    • My mother in law makes an oyster dressing too. It harks back to the days when there were so many oysters in the Chesapeake even the poor people got to eat them. Now they are a luxury.

  14. ahhhh your photos feel like home to me! I’ve missed reading your blog- right now I am baking 3 baguettes to take to a family dinner- bread baking smells like home! Cheers and take care!

  15. This post made me feel a bit weepy for those days and the people that made my tastes of home in Ohio. I try to recreate some of them but of course it is all different here in Australia. Fresh leaf lettuce salad with a bit of oil and vinegar, likewise green bean salad, both from Grandpa’s garden. Mom’s pecan pie and pecan sandies made from pecans grown on the tree in our yard. Also Mom’s Dutch Apple Pie. Grandma’s fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy and cornbread. Pork spare ribs which I can now make with success, and various German dishes from two restaurants that are no longer in existence. The Ohio Valley was originally settled by Germans, many of whom raised pigs so the pork dishes there are quite good…as are strawberries, cantaloupe and tomatoes–the best I’ve ever eaten anywhere–must be the sun and soil.

    • I think the sun and soil ( even the water ) of your home must contribute the that taste. It is almost apple pie time here! And for the first time in ages we have apples on the tree.

      • After I posted the first time I saw this and thought it was a nice addition to the conversation: Laurie Colwin quote; “No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”

        • That was my takeaway from this week’s newsletter too. I’ve alwaye felt the company of my family in the kitchen but now in lockdown I feel fellow blogger and Instagram friends too. Sense of community makes such a difference.

  16. My mother’s pan fried pork chops and freshly picked morel mushrooms.
    Dinners at my grandfather’s farm with fried chicken cooked on an old wood stove. Todays meats just don’t have the same flavor.

    • Morels! I have only ever heard of them -never tasted them. That old wood stove fills me with envy. I seriously want one again. We are on the last of the pork chops here and as I do not eat meat I do not grow – we are almost done with pork too. Not that this bothers me terribly much to be honest.

  17. I am so glad I had dinner already or I would be drooling over all the replies! For me it’s either the lemon meringue pie my mom would make for my birthday, best meringue ever, or her Christmas dinner – standing rib roast with all the trimmings It was so good my SIL left the hospital early after giving birth to her sixth child just so she wouldn’t miss it! I don’t know that the food was so delicious or the fact that on Christmas eve, come hell or high water the entire family was there.

  18. So many, Mrs Groves’ Peach Cobbler made from semi-wild peaches. Her husband Harry made peach brandy but that another story. My Great Aunt Gracie’s spicy potato salad served warm. My Granny’s Cat-head biscuits with tomato gravy. My Mom’s Chocolate/Cherry/Amaretto CheeseCake. My wife’s ButterBeans & Ham hocks with cornbread. My own Sourdough Rye bread hot from the oven with lots of butter. BTW I didn’t see any comments about Hush Puppies. If no one has told yet, they are corn bread balls deep fried. Love your posts.

  19. I have happily lived in Australia most of my life but when asked about food memories from home my mind immediately returns to my early childhood in my birth country of Estonia . . . oh yes, foods still adored – pig’s blood pancakes the way my grandmother made them, really spicy, pickled anchovies, the wondrous vegetable salsify a little hard to get here and, above all, the small ‘pirukad’ or handpies of a dozen filling’s without there could not be a birthday or Christmas or Mid-summer’s night . . . lovely memories which can still be sometimes satisfied . . . 🙂 !

  20. My mom’s oatmeal with raisins. Fresh cucumbers in vinegar with dill and onions. Tomatoes from the garden with garlic, olive oil, and basil. Pesto. Baked chicken.

    But when you ask what is home, for me it is not a food even though both of my parents cook very well and there are tastes that will always remind me of home.

    Instead, home is the feel of my mother’s hands–cool and soft.

    And home is the smell of my father coming in from work–he is a veterinarian and did mainly dairy when I was growing up–there is a very distinctive and not unpleasant smell of antiseptic, baby powder (he used it to make his rubber boots side over his shoes), and cow that always came in the house with him at the end of the day.

    So I know the is not what you asked, but that is home to me.

    P.S. The picture of the cows in the barn is particularly striking, especially with the light what it is. I feel like it should be a painting.

  21. What a wonderful topic close to my heart… I’ve written several blog posts and stories about my food memories. Number one is always old fashioned pea and ham soup made by my grandparents and my dad… the funky aroma transports me back down the years and the taste feeds my soul. Here in my village life it would probably now be backyard chooks eggs fried in butter & olive oil with homemade sourdough and pesto from some green leafy thing in the garden… I know when I contemplate travelling again it is what I’ll miss when we’re away.

  22. There are too many…and now that I’ve spent going-on-half-my-life in Italy, home definitely has her feet in separate continents. I agree with you that there are meals that taste of home even if they weren’t in the real, roots home. A few: boiled spiced shrimp with cold beer followed by key lime pie (Pawley’s Island), sliced smoked salmon on grilled ciabatta with a poached/of soft-fried egg (London), couscous with bbq’d Merguez (Bourgogne), simple pasta with on-the-moment sauce of fresh tomatoes, garlic, olives and capers…and, yes, cucumber infused water accompanied by the warmest conversation.

  23. Fried okra with my mom’s corn meal breading, my great-grandmother’s sugar cookies (no one can find her recipe probably because she likely didn’t have one), Nanny’s fruit drink concoction on a hot summer day, my grandmother’s chicken and broccoli casserole.

  24. My mother’s apple dumplings. I loved watching her make the sugar into caramel and the dough wrapped apples that swam in it. Also the cinnamon rolls we had for breakfast after going to church.

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