Today I snuck off to have lunch with Rin. ‘I have some things to do in the city,’ I mumbled as I backed guiltily out the door.
I snuck because a) my whole family wants to have lunch with Rin and b) my whole family wants to go to Grand BBQ (where Rin and I had lunch).
I think it’s nice that everyone wants to have lunch with Rin, but sometimes you just want to have some girly time, right? You don’t ALWAYS need the company of everyone you love at every sitting, do you? No. Also it’s both quieter and cheaper this way. Sometimes Grand BBQ is just for us gals, ya know?
We met at 1.20 and ordered the Yong Tau Foo. It’s basically noodles, soup and some extra things thrown in for good measure. We have egg noodles, curry soup (a la Laksa) with green vegetables and ‘golden things’ (which is basically all kinds of yum stuff fried until crunchy and then plonked into the hot, coconutty soup.) It’s really yum and reminds us of Ong Food Court* where we spent many a mealtime when Rin was wee.
It’s weird because when I came home, I got to thinking about another nostalgic foodie thing I’d remembered last week:
When Rin was a baby, we lived in a warehouse apartment in Dally Street, Clifton Hill, before warehouse apartments were even a thing. It was about 10 minutes walk from the railway station, which was about a 10 minute train ride from the city.
Dure, my mother in law lived in the OTHER side of the building… in a warehouse-house. Warehouse houses are an actual thing too, as you will know if you watch Offspring. Again, this was 25 years ago so Dure was totally pipping Nina Proudman at the post in a big way.
Some days, I would hear Dure trotting through the dusty hallway that joined the warehouse apartment and the warehouse house. She’d knock on the door with a box of food under her arm. Sometimes it would be leftovers from the kitchen of Stephanie’s Restaurant, where Dure was a partner. Sometimes it would be fancy icing-sugar dusted biscuits or coffee from Queens Parade. Sometimes it would be snacks from her friend Naisa. Sometimes it would be morsels from The Penang Coffee House in Hawthorn when Danny and Honey were still owners. And sometimes it would be these other things that I SUPER LOVED: a tub of cold vermicelli salad AND a tub of sesame seed dotted achar (a kind of pickled, spicy vegetable salad).
The vermicelli salad and the achar came from a shop in the heart of Little Bourke Street, Melbourne’s Chinatown. That shop mostly sold those dried fruits and nuts and plants and things that Chinatown shops sometimes do. But it also had piles of those gelatinous Chinese sweets on the counter top (which Rin loved). And next to those was the famous snacky vermicelli salad and the achar that Dure often gifted us.
Those snacks were SO delicious, so to my taste that I would pop Rin into the pram and walk to the station, hop on the train, walk from Flinders to Little Bourke, push my way backwards into the shop with the pram (and Rin!) and buy 3 containers of each. It was a long time ago, and I think they were about $3.50 per pop. For $20 I got enough deliciousness to last a few days, but I think I was so broke at the time that it’d be a once a week thing. In between days I hoped that I’d hear Dure’s trotting in the distance. That she’d bring a care package around and that a couple of tubs would be stowed inside. I kept my ears cocked, just in case.
I was remembering all this last week, wishing I could taste those things again and wondering where those shop people went to and if they still made the achar and the noodle salad. And I was wondering if other people have delicious, legendary foods in their life like that… Things they super loved and can no longer get because they don’t make them anymore or because the shop or restaurant is long gone.
And today I was thinking that it’s 25 years later and I’m eating lunch a few meters from that shop with that babe that used to be shuttled in a pram from pillar to post in a quest for delicious.
That was a lot of thinking and remembering. Sorry. Food can do that to you, right, as can family lunches.
Do you have a food memory like this? Something you used to love that is now long gone? Something you might never taste again, but can’t forget?
*I just remembered I used to carry Rin’s stroller down the stairs at Ong Food Court just so we could eat Yong Tau Foo there together too!. She was eating Laksa at a VERY early age, watered down with some Chinese tea!