My gourmandise is in the DNA, it comes from my father. The sweet tooth I have, also comes from father. So this blog probably wouldn’t have come to be if it wasn’t for the seeds my father planted during my childhood for the appreciation of Europe’s patisserie and fine foods.
Being a kid in Australia in the 80’s meant eating Lamingtons and Hundreds and Thousands. I was very happy to eat only this. My Hungarian parents however were not, they were nostalgic for European cakes and unfortunately for them this was almost impossible to find during the 70’s and 80’s in Sydney. There were a couple of cake shops on the Eastern suburbs of Sydney run by Hungarians/Austrians, one in particular I remember along Bondi Beach, going there on the weekends was a pilgrimage for my father. He would order his childhood favourites: apricot danish, profiterols, vanilla slice (millefeuille), Dobos torta, Esterhazy torta, Black Forest, apple strudel, poppy seed strudel, cherry strudel…. I’m sure I’ve missed a few. I remember the creme patissiere under the apricot of the danish, ooh how I loved that.
Let’s not forget the smelly cheeses. What horror for an Aussie child to eat cheese that was blue! While my friends enjoyed their Kraft cheddar my father insisted that I eat camembert, brie and Roquefort. What cruelty! How I laugh about it now. These are now my favourite cheeses!
Then there were the school holidays. Instead of sleeping in, watching cartoons over cereal, I had to go to work with my father. Can you imagine!? It was the worst. My father was a mechanic and an owner of a service station. Petrol tankers would come early which meant my father put his alarm on for 4am! We’d have to to be at the service station to open by 5am (or was it earlier?). It was torture for me. My father knew that this was possibly extreme for a young child, so to ease the pain, on our way to work or just after opening we’d stop off for some “petrol” as he’d call it. Petrol meaning fuel. Fuel meaning croissants, danish and strudel. Okay, that wasn’t so bad.
Petrol came as another type of fuel/persuasion: Chocolate. My father, the military thinking man, every Sunday ran 21 kilometres. Who would have to join him? Me. It was not up for discussion and again I couldn’t sleep-in. As a young child I’d ride my bike along side my father while he ran, then as a teenager I’d run with him. Our Sunday run had a tradition: we’d make 1 stop at the Newsagency where my father would by us our lucky scratchies, as well as buying me 1 chocolate bar and that was to be my fuel for the 21 kilometers. I think it worked because in school I was one of the fastest long distance runners.
Living in Europe I’ve discovered what my father was so nostalgic about: the magic of patisserie and fine foods really lies in the heart of Europe. And it’s my DNA that will continue to seek the fuel I so needed at 5am and on those long distance runs.
Here’s to you Papa. Happy Fabulous 70th Birthday!
Love your daughter,