A Taste of Childhood

Canned Pilchards in Tomato Sauce.

Yesterday we were talking about things we had not eaten for a long time (at the supper table of course!). One of the things that came to mind were Pilchards: specifically the canned pilchards in tomato sauce that we used to eat often when I was growing up in South Africa. I remember eating this as a side dish to the red lentils both my mom and grandmother used to make for dinner. (This was a meal my mom learned to make under the guidance of her mother-in-law; and it was one I had learned how to make under the tutelage of my mom.) Every time we went shopping for groceries, this was one canned food that always used to go into the shopping trolley.

Pilchards on toast. (Photo credit: http://www.123rf.com)

When I married, this fish food continued to make its way onto my list and into the shopping cart. Having married a Mauritian, I could continue to make the dish prepared by my Mauritian-born grandmother: red lentils with pilchards on the side. The fish (prepared with garlic, onion and tomato) is a perfect accompaniment to the creamy cooked lentils. The leftover fish is perfect the next morning as a toast topper. Not a scrap enters the bin in the kitchen, or is set aside to turn to mould in the fridge.

One of the things we have missed moving to the northern hemisphere is the taste of pilchards cooked in a textured tomato sauce. We make do with sardines in brine; or sardines sold in a thin, salty, tomato-tasting liquid. But nothing compares, however, to one of the tastes of my childhood.

What are one of the tastes of you childhood?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013


23 thoughts on “A Taste of Childhood

  1. What a lovely memory, from one to another the recipe continues. You know, when I first read your question, I thought nothing, but recently I have been craving my grandmothers homemade shortbread. I must make it.


  2. What a lovely post once again Colline and you always surprise me with the lovely ideas you come up with! My familly loves it too and when I make my fish pancakes again I will post the recipe and you can see if you would like it as well. 🙂 Thanks for sharing hon! *hugs*


  3. What a lovely story. My mum’s not a great cook (understatement), so initially I thought there’s not much I miss in the way of childhood tastes. But she is a pretty good baker, and – like Leanne – it’s the taste of shortbread that I associate with her. I have her recipe and will probably make some today. Thanks. 🙂


      1. I love how smells, and particularly food smells, can transport us to another time and place and provide such comforting memories. My dad used to make Scottish tablet (a particularly yummy kind of fudge) when we were little, and for me, the smell of caramelising sugar is the smell of love.


  4. Food from my childhood? That’s what many of my recipes are, Colline, and it’s a big benefit of writing my blog. I get to relive the dishes and memories as often as I like. 🙂


  5. I also remember those pilchards in tomato sauce! I haven’t seen it here yet. We have International shelves in our super markets here. They have SA tennis biscuits and Marie biscuits, then also Springbok mieliemeel!


  6. I was and still am a candy-holic, so naturally my memory food is a type of candy. One of my favorites that is no longer available, as far as I know, was a roll of hard fruit flavored candy called ‘Charms’. The best were the raspberry and blackberry flavors. I’d dig down and eat them first, replacing the other flavors in thetop of the roll. That way, if I had to share, I wouldn’t give up the ‘good’ ones.
    If you care to drop by, my own memories and stories are at ‘1950 Suburban Adventures’.


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