On the weekend I made my most favourite winter comfort food, always good when I'm cold and a bit down in the dumps (post op healing taking longer than I want). It's seriously basic but all so good. My mum used to make it for us for dessert and I think it's the memory of those times that makes it such good comfort food. Nothing fancy, you simply get a swiss roll cake, the ones with jam only in them, slice it and place in layers in a bowl. Then you pour hot custard all over it and into the grooves between the cake slices. Take spoon and eat. The left overs go into the fridge and this is where it gets really good. It's even better cold, the custard has soaked slightly into the sponge and yum. I even have the very same glass bowl mum used to make it in and I still use it for this dessert and only for this dessert. Then it goes back into the cupboard until I crave it again, probably some time next winter.

As I was demolishing this dish I started thinking about how not only the taste of this dessert was comforting but the smell of it too. That got me onto thinking about all of the smells I remember from my childhood that I rarely if ever smell any more. The smell of things used to be a big part of my life back when I was a chef but over the years my sense of smell pretty much left me. Food had to be really aromatic for me to notice. I still had the sense of smell, it's just that I got really used to certain smells. People would walk into my kitchen and go "wow what's that you're cooking? It smells awesome" I'd often be surprised by that, I couldn't smell it. Since I stopped cooking professionally though I've started to regain some of that sense of smell and I guess this weekend I remembered the smell of this dessert and that's what got me thinking of old smells that I hardly ever get to smell anymore, like....

  • The Jarrah woodpile we used to have out the back of our house, especially when it got wet.
  • My electric train set and the smell of the oil used to lubricate the wheels and all of the other moving bits.
  • Model aeroplane fuel, it's pretty unique.
  • Linseed oil on my cricket bat, even though I usually only hit tennis balls with it I was told to look after my bat and soak it in linseed oil every now and then
  • There were these giant gingerbread hearts that us kids used to get every Oktoberfest, I'd hang it on the wall until it had aged slightly and then eat it. Always age your gingerbread hearts peeps. Take that tip away with you and think of me whilst you enjoy its' aged goodness.
  • Buffalo grass
  • Wet bitumen, yeah we get that now but back then it was different and better.
  • Sawdust, my dad was a carpenter so he had a huge shed out the back and one of my chores was to cut up pieces of douling for him to use at work, before plastic plugs they used to push douling into drilled holes and then screw skirting boards into the doul.
  • This black tar substance which everyone used to put on wood that was to be buried in the ground (eg: fence posts) to stop white ants, curasoak? or something like that.
  • And to close it out the open fire in the lounge room, using up the not so wet Jarrah.

Good Times


Anonymous said…
One Mills and Wares jam sponge roll, birds custard powder and full cream milk with two tablespoons of cream, voila the best trifle ever.
xoxo Mum
stu said…
you got it :)
Smells can stir emotions in a way sights and sounds can't quite achieve.

I really don't smell the bush enough any more. That smell of the heat and the peppy trees and the marron pots pulled up out of the river has been lost to me for as many years as my Pop has been gone.

I fear I've turned into a city girl :(
stu said…
where as I've done the opposite, normally spending more time in the bush than the city, now learning the new smells of the bush. Smelling is good :)