Food, the Mind and a Crepe Suzette

We all have our favourite foods. Sometimes it’s just because it tastes dam good. If it’s something you really like the taste of you eat it when the opportunity arises because of the pleasure it brings you. Those opportunities can be during times of holidays, family occasions and traditions. Sometimes it’s just enjoying your time home alone on some Sunday morning eating leftover cake, meal or a quick cook up that brings a warmth of familiarity. Memories are formed in association with food and sometimes particular dishes stand out. One of those for me is a Crepe.

I’m not sure when I was first introduced to this delightful dessert.  I love crepes. They are easy to make, cheap to make and light to eat. It’s the toppings that alters it from a dessert to a savoury meal, a cheap meal to a costly meal. But the simple crepe on its own is an economical food.

My mum had a Women’s Weekly magazine  ‘favourites’ cookbook. This was back in the day before computers were a household asset. A time when recipes all came in hardcopy, even if it was a scrawl on piece of scrap paper from an aunt or friend or even friend of a friend, perhaps even whilst watching a cooking show. I remember in years gone by where I would sit, watch a cooking show where they would put the recipe on the screen of the tv at the end of the demonstration and you would frantically try to transcribe it. There was no link to a bio and further link to a recipe like there is now. There was no google, or internet or Chanel app on a smart phone to re watch the episode. It was when kitchens had cookbooks where you pasted favourite recipes or family recipes in a book like a scrapbook.

I was living through an age of emerging technology. An era of phones that were connected to a wall and the most private conversation you could have was to stretch the cord as far as it could around a corner in the house so you didn’t have to have a conversation with your best friend or new boyfriend in front of your parents. Who was I kidding, they could still hear everything! When you left the house you couldn’t be contacted via phone and to contact someone else whilst out you had to hope you had coins to use a randomly placed public phone in a glass box that had been erected on public street and hope it hadn’t been smashed by vandals and it was still working or that someone hadn’t jammed the incorrect sized money in the coin slot or chosen to use it as a urinal the night before. A time when if you didn’t get to the bank by 3pm you couldn’t get cash out of your bank account until 9am the next day. There was no wall teller machine let alone a smartphone where you can stand at a cash register in a store and transfer savings into another account that can be debited by a scanning device. A time when one needed to go a government library and spend endless hours there trying to do a year 8 high school history assignment because that was the only way to access that information was out of books that only a library would have.

As I teenager in the late 70’s early 80’s I was starting to experiment with my cooking skills. I have always been someone who cooked dessert rather than savoury. I guess my love for cooking desserts began as a way I could make myself an array of yummy foods I otherwise wouldn’t have had access to and found I was good at it.

In the late 70’s early 80’s teenagers didn’t have a cafe culture like today. It didn’t exist. To have exposure to restaurant quality food, you had to go to an actual restaurant in the true meaning of the word. Going to a restaurant was a ‘grown up’ thing and something unaffordable for a schoolgirl working casual at the local Coles Supermarket store as a check-out-chick.

Hanging out with friends happened at each other’s homes or some days we’d catch public transport to the local beach at St Kilda. As some friends got licences we hit the Great Ocean Road beaches. Lunch was a sausage roll or pie from a bakery or packed lunch, barbecue in the local park and dessert was an ice cream from the milk bar ice cream display fridge. Golden Gay times were my go to!

Most often if my parents ever gave us the luxury of taking us out for tea it was to a suburban Chinese shop and banana fritters became my choice of dessert  and still is. Going out for Chinese just isn’t the same if I don’t have a Banana Fritter for dessert. On the odd occasion the restaurant has run out of bananas for heck sake, like when a cyclone hit the banana plantations in Queensland, Northern Australia, and there was a country-wide shortage of bananas, I feel cheated. That’s the only time a Chinese restaurant should run out of banana’s, right!

Often when I go out I will look at the dessert menu first which will help me decide on how big a main meal I will order. I don’t rate a restaurant that doesn’t have a good dessert menu. Many people like entrée, main and plenty of alcohol. Me, I’m an orange juice, main and dessert girl. If I didn’t have a drop of alcohol with my meal I couldn’t care less as long as the dessert is a winner.

That being said, last night I had a girlfriend come for tea. Whilst sitting having my Saturday morning weekly hair blow wave, I was brain storming with my hair stylist Andrew about what I would cook for dessert. Andrew himself enjoys good food and is used to women sorting out their life issues whilst having their hair done! I ruled out my first thought, a traditional bread and butter pudding. Its summer and hot so it potentially would be a bit heavy, I defaulted to another favourite, crepes.

On my smart phone, at the hairdressers, I googled crepes. This is 21st century living. Smart phones, google and researching whilst out and about doing our everyday things. No waiting to get home to look through cook books. It’s all there with a few taps on our mobile phone. Crepe Suzette pops up on my little screen. A food and wine website recipe had a Grand Marnier and Cognac sauce to compliment the crepe. That’s when alcohol is a must with a meal, if it’s in the recipe! Sounds great. I was pretty sure I had the orange flavoured liqueur and the distilled age wine that had been further aged to become a spirit being cognac in our selection of alcohol at home. We did, but as we are not regular drinkers of these spirits or liqueurs on inspection they’d been aged a little too much and Ted and I decided we needed to purchase a couple of fresh new bottles.

Ted said to me that won’t be cheap. That’s the beauty of crepes. They can be as cheap or as expensive as you like. It’s what you put with them that’s the variable of cost. Cheap is topped with lemon and sugar, expensive is topped with liqueurs and spirits! Ted was right, buying the liqueur and spirit came to a total of $114 AU. That’s an expensive dessert in anyones terms, but I reassured him I’d make them again, the alcohol wont be wasted!

When living my sole and single parent life after Harry’s death When death comes knocking at your door on some idle Tuesday afternoon. , there were times were finances were skint.

We had some tough times but in tough times my children and I had some wonderful bonding moments. Raising three children on a part-time wage, budgeting income from a death benefit left from Harry, that was a finite income to draw from, whilst trying to give our children the best education I could afford, there were times the pay packet for the fortnight didn’t quite stretch to the next fortnight. Tea sometimes came down to $5 of hot potato chips for the 4 of us to share and sometime crepes as our dinner was the choice I chose.

Although cooking crepes was a money balancing decision I always liked crepes so saw eating one of my favourite foods as enjoyable. Jane my daughter must have sensed this. As she grew older she put the puzzle together and realised we had this meal when we had a poor cash flow, but recognised we were rich with love. One day now living with Ted in our settled stress less home she said to me as I cooked crepes for Sunday breakfast, that they gave her good memories and feelings. She said ‘I know we used to eat them cos we were poor but it was still always good’. I think she associated it with me being motherly and us as a family all sitting together enjoying a meal albeit crepes which is really a dessert, what can I say. Who especially as a kid doesn’t like dessert for tea instead of vegetables!

Every evening we always sat at the kitchen table and had our evening meal as a family. Even if it was sharing $5 of hot potato chips off the white butchers paper with a dab of white crow tomato sauce using fingers for cutlery.

As a young girl I was raised with strict meal time etiquette. When I was growing up, we served our fish and chips onto a plate out in the kitchen from the wrapper, mum would decanter the sauce into a little dish and place a fancy little serving spoon in it and we ate our meal with a knife and fork at the dining table.

Any caps 🧢 were removed and elbows kept off the table, no talking with food in your mouth and it was manners to wait until someone else has finished talking before you started. The table always had an ironed tablecloth placed on it. Cutlery was laid out correctly, left to right, using cutlery from the outside in. Condiments decanted into a serving container or dish, salt and pepper in specified shakers & the orange juice decanted into a jug and placed on the table. The table was formally set with everyone given a glass placed at their setting so no one needed to leave the table whilst eating. My step father would have his one and only small glass of Sherry whilst mum served up tea. We were all called to the table and no one dared start until everyone, I mean everyone, was seated. Mum would be fussing in the kitchen or someone had to quickly first run to the toilet, or a door to door sales person knocked on the door just as we were about to start, no matter what, even if your tea went cold, you did not pick up that knife and fork until everyone was seated.

That at times could be so frustrating as a hungry teenager. I think as generations pass on so do some etiquettes. I still ensured we all sat at the table together but the rules were now much more relaxed. I believe this is an aspect of my upbringing that carried through to my parenting that I got right just as my parents did.

It taught social skills and etiquette. How to behave at a table, and allowed everyone to talk about their day and stay connected with each other. Ted rarely sits at the table. He eats his meals in front of the tv on the couch. I often still sit at the table and eat my meal with Ted eating in front of the TV which he says is relaxing for him. For him it’s a break from his busy schedule and demands of works intellectual thinking sitting at a desk on a chair, being able to zone out a bit on a soft comfortable couch. Having said that Ted can conduct himself when required at a formal setting but chooses to have a more relaxed setting at home.

I’m still an advocate for eating at the dining table. Old habits die hard.

Our childhoods and association with foods have lasting and sometimes warm memories. Jane says my home made apple pie also gives her this. She now makes my apple pie and crepes because of the feeling it gives her and of course it’s yummy.

For us living fortnight to fortnight barely making ends meet some weeks crepes was a budget meal. A rescue meal. It meant we ate.  The odd crepe meal here and there was, I thought, more than fine. Nutrition as a whole was not lacking. There were plenty of  veggies, meats, and every loved going to Nanna Judes for her cooking. We still do that as a family. We all love it. The connectivness of family. The laughs, conversations, all making time to be together in our busy lives. We all sit around her dining table and discuss life in general and touch base with what’s happening in each others lives.

Crepes still have a familiar place in our home. I still enjoy a crepe with lemon and sugar. I will order one from a city street stall if I am every passing by.

As soon as I saw crepes with a flaming sauce on the website I was looking at, it instantly brought back memories of a Crepe Suzette I ordered the Fujiya Hotel Hakone, Japan when staying there in October 2015.

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The Fujiya Hotel is one of the oldest hotels in Japan, founded in 1878 . Some of the famous guests that have stayed there are Charles Chaplin, Helen Keller, John Lennon, Prince Albert (later George VI) of the UK, the Swedish Crown Prince and his retinue, the Emperor Showa, the current Emperor and Empress, and many others. It’s a beautiful old hotel that reminded me of something out of an Agatha Christie novel. The french cuisine restaurant has starched white table cloths, silver cutlery, waiters dressed to impress and a beautiful timber ceiling with hand painted flowers.

Food and it’s association with our minds can bring  wonderful memories to the forefront. Like ordering Crepe Suzette in the Fujiya restaurant. I was not expecting a chef to bring out a trolley and theatrically make the Suzette in front of us. Being privileged to witness this at fine dining restaurant in a foreign country has been one of the highlights of my life. Although somewhat embarrassed by the focus from other patrons at the restaurant this brought on us it made the dinner all the more special.

Below are some short clips of this evening.

My recipe last night was an alcohol flamed delight as well, however I definetly did not look as graceful as this guy lighting up my alcohol on the stove or peeling the orange. Non the less the outcome was a fabulous dessert shared with good company. 

I obtained my recipe from http://www.foodandwine.com. This is the recipe below.

Let me know if you ever make them.

Love Lucy x

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