November 2013


Remember remember the fifth of November…?

When I was a child I had a metabolism that could process Tupperware and an appetite that never saw the needle hit ‘full up’.

I was affectionately known (I hope it was with affection!) as ‘the bin on two legs’.

And yes, I was a little podgy around the middle.

Some things never change, eh?

But November, for a small boy child, is a magical month.

Those evenings of bonfire prep in late October gradually build towards something exciting!

For weeks you’ve been collecting sticks from the local park (some of which were still attached to trees), squirreling away newspapers from the kitchen (most of which have yet to be read), and going through your collection of clothes that no longer fitted you (some of which – especially your grandmother’s hand-knitted jumpers! – still fitted you).

You gather all of these things away from prying adult eyes and build your creation.

Then you’d steal your baby brother’s pram, and, on the night of 4th November, under the cover of darkness, you’d transport your Frankensteinesque Guy to the communal bonfire, and somehow you’d get it on to the pinnacle of flammable rubbish.

The following evening, to the accompaniment of whooshes and bangs, and oohs and ahhs, and the spitter spatter sputter of sparklers, you’d get almost cooked on one half of your body, while your other half froze.

And you’d eat.


The jacket potatoes (which had been wrapped in foil, and cooked in the bonfire), had been unwrapped, opened and spread with unsalted Welsh butter; they tasted like no other food has ever tasted before.

The bangers (non-firework) had also been cooked on the edge of the bonfire, and tasted a million times better than they could ever taste at home.

The billy-cans contained food that looked like baked beans, but tasted like ambrosia of the Gods.

Decades later and, despite much mucking about in the kitchen, I am unable to recreate the flavours of any of those childish Guy Fawkes nights.

What was it, the magic ingredient, that gave the Bonfire Night menu so much extra taste?

Was it the weeks of prep, scrounging things to add to the bonfire?

Was it the illicit gathering of material from around the family home (and homes of friends)?

Was it my mother’s horrified expression, when she saw the makeshift Guy wearing the only-worn-once jumper, hand-knitted by my grandmother, as it burst in to flames?

Or was it the almost forbidden act of eating, out doors, at night, half of my face freezing, the other half burning, as I shovelled food in to my mouth *with my fingers* (because such illicit behaviour was allowed, that one night of the year)?

Or was it a combination of all of these things?

Whatever the secret ingredient was that enhanced those flavours, it remains a secret that has never come down to me.

Does absence make the heart grow fonder – in the world of food, too?

Are there things that you remember, from your childhood?

Do you have flavourful memories that you have never quite been able to recapture?

Are there handed-down recipes that, no matter how well you follow the well-trodden path, just don’t deliver what you remember them to be?

Are there?

Drop us a line over in the forum (if you’ve registered with this website to submit a recipe, your login details for the forum will be the same as they are here), and let us know your favourite childhood food memory.

In the meantime, check out this mushroom soup recipe from JackTheFox. Because if that’s not a mug full of winter goodness, I don’t know what is.

(this has been a guest post because Greedy Girl is currently researching what they eat in the southern hemisphere)

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