My earliest memories have to be around food. And I guess I can still remember playing with the neighbour’s dog. Not playing dog games but trying to make him play board games with me. Tough luck kid. I can remember going to on of our favourite restaurants, outside Funchal. The restaurant had huge rooms and at the entrance, it had a small supermarket. I ran and I ran through those aisles. The cold made me always carry a comfy sweater and the smell of bread being made in wood ovens and the warmth in the air generated by the fireplaces still make me warm (and hungry). I can imagine the sun shined up there in the mountains but I guess the clouds are part of my memories. It was always foggy and misty. Thinking about our unhurried meals up there makes me cry because I missed it so much. One should not dwell on the past but these pieces of memories make who I am today and they make my heart fill up with warm hugs from my mum and dad. They trigger an instant smile to my face.
Those long car journeys around the island were always a blast (not because the island is big but back then the roads ran just as us, unhurriedly). Every weekend there we went on my dad’s car. I hated it. It was a white Renault and when it stopped, due to its highly advanced suspension, it remained moving from one side to the other like a boat. Yes, that is what I called it. A boat. It made go sick. Oh my God, how many stories do I have around my dad driving really slowly at the side of the road while I was outside with my mum, walking, as I was so sick and I could not go in the car.
We ate beef stew with pasta (yes, people from Madeira love their pasta in their soups or stews) every single time we went there. I absolutely loved. When the food arrived at our table my hands got all moist as I tucked in with my small spoon straight into the sizzling beef stew and its steam condensed in my hands. I did not enjoy the beef itself. My mum made me very picky. No hard beef for me. Just rib eye upwards. However, I have found the most amazing sirloin steaks just a few steps from home here in London (will share my favourite places to go shopping around my neighbourhood soon on the blog). And I ate the pasta with so much delight. I had a smile on my face whilst eating it. My God, how I love food and how my parents influenced me to it.
I was a lucky kid, a very lucky one I might add. My mum was a stay-at-home mum. Only now I truly appreciate the value of having my mom with me 24/7. We stepped on each other’s toes. A lot. We have very similar levels of stubbornness. But at tea time we always made a truce. It was cooking time and my mum always made me something different and tasty. My stomach has immunity to tummy aches from eating hot cakes by now. My mum was still taking the pastries out of the oven or out of the sizzling oil and they didn’t even get to touch the plates. They headed straight into my mouth. I helped mum sometimes, putting flour and butter on the trays, mixing stuff, eating stuff (I am probably crazy but I LOVE eating raw cake batter; I always scrapped the bowls). How well she can cook is something that still amazes me. And this is how I got all the junk in my trunk.
It will always be a sunny afternoon in my mum’s kitchen. She will always be wearing a lovely dress and her hair will always be long and hazelnutty, reflecting the sun. She will always be smiling and she will always be the best mum one could ever ask.