Growing up in a culturally diverse family meant we were exposed to many different dishes, snacks and treats. Not all of the flavours were desirable. Some were downright nasty, uncomfortable and even caused me to sit at the table for hours on end until I finished my meal. We all have those tastes, smells and flavours that remind us of precious moments with our families, the meals that brought us together and those that caused great battles between myself, the nannies and my parents. These are the 4 that I remember from the 80s:
Haw Flakes: I remember getting stacks and stacks of these things as a kid. I never knew what they were, but I lamented them. They are a meld of many fruits and packed down into milimeter strips. The wikipedia site for this candy states that they have been seized many times over for artificial flavours and odd chemicals. Kudos to the Americans for calling out suspect candy. Glad with age comes choice and I never have to eat these again.
Ribena: With origins in the UK, this blackcurrant infused drink was a favourite of mine and my sisters when we were kids. I used to take the syrup, mix it with water (Sprite when I was extra good) and down this like a Ketel One martini. I have great memories of living in downtown Toronto near Dufferin and Bloor and walking along Bloor towards Ossington to the store that sold Ribena by the case. You can still find this drink in stores today; last I heard TNT Supermarket carried this. The blackcurrant itself has a unique fruit taste – both sweet and sour, but still sweet – almost like what you would get with a cherry, blueberry, raspberry and plum with a shot of lemon. Definitely among one of my favourites growing up and one I would enjoy again and pass on to my children.
Cornmeal porridge: I hated that fucking cornmeal porridge more than anything else I could imagine. Miss Lyn would have to wake me up an hour early and sit with me until I finished it. There were days when I was late for school because I hated it so much. There was one traumatic experience that I had which had a major impact on me and ultimately led to us never having to eat that shit again. I chocked pretty hard on the alfalfa or banana leaf one morning and I remember it blocked my air passage, I couldn’t breathe and through sheer will, I managed to cough the sucker up. Even before then, the grainy taste, the texture and the scent was enough to drive me to the brink of insanity.
Weetabix: On the days where Miss Lyn was not around (she was pretty one-note with only serving Corn Meal) I was pretty comfortable going to town on Weetabix. I used to microwave those tasty blocks with milk and sugar (always two at a time) and licked the bowl clean when finished. I don’t remember if my sister loved this cereal as much as I did, but I loved Weetabix.