Ratatouille

LoveRatatouille. Those unfamiliar with the word may struggle with pronunciation and wonder what on earth it means. Several may think of the Disney movie where the main character is a rat. It would be logical to surmise that the word somehow has something to do with rats. Definitely not!

I love ratatouille. I adore the smell that tickles my nostrils and stimulates my taste buds as the simple, fresh ingredients, rich with colour bubble away slowly over a low flame. I savour the wonderful medley of flavour as the first mouthful hits my tongue whilst my memory banks simultaneously bring to mind thoughts of great friends and family members whenever I prepare this simple fare.

As I chop gorgeous red tomatoes I think of Uncle Gordon, a man of few words, but as kind and gentle a person as you could ever meet. Uncle Gordon was allergic to tomatoes so whenever I invited him to dinner, I had to be careful not to include it in any of my dishes. Susan, my very good friend, also springs to mind as, although not allergic, whenever we went to lunch would always order her salad with no tomatoes. Slicing up the zucchini, I think of Wayne, my son, whose aversion to them is so strong that he feels physically sick. Beautiful firm purple eggplants conjure up images of my father, standing in my kitchen in Darwin teaching me the recipe for eggplant and chilli bean which is absolutely delicious. Hot, spicy and a regular accompaniment to our curry feasts.

Food has a wonderful way of connecting us with memories. For me ratatouille represents family, friendship and love even though it’s not a dish we’ve all eaten together. Weird how our thoughts work!

Michelle

Ratatouille (noun) – a vegetable stew said to have originated in Provence, France

Singapore…..childhood memories

Seletar Hills, Tick Toc Man, Mee Siam, curry puffs, sweet tea loaded with condensed milk, Changi beach, Serangoon Gardens, Dr and Aunty Lim, the DeSouza family are just some of the memories that flood my mind as I walked from my hotel to the Hawker Centre.

I remember the excited anticipation that built before our regular 3 month trips for home leave to Singapore. We eagerly anticipated eating much loved food, shopping trips, day trips to Changi beach.

One memorable time Uncle Percy got a big bungalow (part of his job perk) where it seemed like 20 or more of us stayed. Cousins, aunties, mahjong kakis stayed up late into the night as we kids tried to sleep in the tropical humidity. The only whitie amongst our massive multi cultural gathering was Mum who made scones for afternoon tea which went down a treat and then at night we either feasted on noodles from the local hawkers all tied up in banana leaves or went down the road and sat at a roadside stall to enjoy a bowl of noodles. Delicious!
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As I sat last night look at the twinkling lights of ships in Singapore Harbour I felt blessed to have enjoyed a childhood that included the Singapore of old where we danced in the rain which brought relief from the tropical heat – by contrast today I stayed in a coffee shop till the downpour passed and then, rather than jumping the fast flowing monsoon drains of old to get across the road, I crossed via the covered pedestrian bridges that have been build above the wide roads to convey people safely from one side to the other – Singapore has changed so much but the constant is the delicious food.

Michelle