My name is Sue McDonald. I was born in the sixties, and I have enjoyed food and cooking since making my first jam roly-poly with leftovers of mum’s pastry (aged about four). I have fond memories of helping mum in the kitchen – she bakes wonderful cakes and desserts. I also remember the very first time we made spaghetti bolognese together – it seemed so exotic. However, these were the times before supermarkets existed. Sainsbury’s was a single-shop deli in Barking with white tiled walls and sawdust on the floor, and if you wanted butter, they would weigh it and pat it into a cube with two wooden paddles and wrap it in lovely white paper. They sold hams and cheese, but that was pretty much it – it wasn’t the megastore phenomenon of today. When Sainsbury opened the first ‘big’ supermarket in Romford, it was a big deal, and they stocked all kinds of exotic foods that we didn’t usually have like yoghurt and pizza. I used to scour mum’s cookbooks looking for new and exciting meals to cook, and when we embarked on our first spaghetti bolognese, I remember the wonder of tasting something so unlike our usual meals. Even dad liked it, and for those of you who know my dad, he is not the most adventurous foodie – he loves a well-done steak and egg and chips – but like me, he knows what he likes, and to this day, nobody makes better chips than my dad. Dad also gave me my love of dark chocolate – he has always preferred dark, and there is nothing more rewarding than making a lovely dark chocolate mousse with fresh strawberries or raspberries, and picturing the relish on my dad’s face as he finishes the last spoonful and pretends to steal somebody else’s leftover mousse. I got into the habit of giving dad a Terry’s dark chocolate orange for Father’s Day, and I remember one day buying him quite an expensive car wash kit instead only for him to disappointedly ask “is there no chocolate orange ?”.
I also remember the first time my brother ordered a Chinese takeaway. It was very exotic looking at his sweet and sour chicken, his pancake roll and chow mein. “Can I have a little taste Phil?” was greeted with “No get your own!”, but he let me taste a few little morsels, and my love of Asian food was born.
Aaah man, I could go on forever about my childhood – but you get the idea – I love food, my mum and dad love sugary sweet treats, and my current feelings about food are an accumulation of years of sights, smells, tastes and memories…….this passion has taken a long time to develop.