And one more for the road… not that last melancholic drink before being kicked out of an already empty bar so beautifully sung of by Billie Holiday, but a reference rather to the practice of packing food for the road: “padkos”. It was such standard practice when we were kids and going on holiday, that my mother would, the evening before, be found in the kitchen, mixing up minced meat and grated onion and breadcrumbs and herbs and an egg yolk to bind it all, for tiny meatballs, which would be rolled between her palms, soon sticky with the mixture, and placed in neat rows in a baking tray ready for the oven. Frikkadels or meat balls were standard road food, cooled off and packed into tupperware, ready to be doled out in the car when us kids and my dad started getting hungry. Not only meatballs, but cooled off, cooked boerewors sometimes, and cooked chicken pieces, enough for two adults and four children (including two always seemingly ravenous boys) would always be found in the food basket somehow squeezed in at my mom’s feet in the front passenger seat. And tomato sandwiches, and a flask of coffee and tea each, and some of the biscuits which were baked in the week before a trip: oats crunchies, melting moments, coconut macaroons, ginger biscuits….
We used to always, at least as I remember it, get up early, before sunrise, and drive into the day, usually to a holiday on the South coast, and once, very adventurously, to Port St Johns for an Easter break, when I was around 8 or so. I remember that very clearly: my grandparents had left a week before to Port St John’s, but we didn’t have any plans to go away. My dad had just come back from work, we were having afternoon coffee, and the next moment my mom started packing: my dad had said; ”Let’s go and surprise Mom and Dad(his parents) in Port St John’s”. My mom, whom I think had quite an adventurous nature, immediately got us all packed and started making sandwiches, a flask of coffee and one with tea for her, and what seemed like the next moment to my child’s mind, we were on our way, this time driving into the night. By daybreak the next day we were in Flagstaff, waiting for a bakery or café to open, and then my dad found a spot at the side of the road to park the car, hauled out a little gas stove and frying pan, and cooked up a breakfast of boerewors and fried onion on freshly baked white bread rolls.
We found the campsite where my grandparents had their caravan parked quite easily, but they were not “home”, so we drove down to the coast. I will never forget what happened next: as my dad drove around a rather sharp curve in a gravel road, my grandparents in their Opel coupe or was it an El Camino? came round the same bend from the opposite side, and all we saw was my grandmother’s mouth and eyes open wide in what was total surprise and almost shock when she recognised my dad’s car: a happy hello followed, cars to the side of the road, excited laughter and my dad being playfully berated by his mother (he was not quite 30 then) for doing something so daring!!
I have as an adult continued the food for the road tradition, even though I could perfectly easily have long since stopped doing that: with the roadside filling stations and the eateries attendant to them, it makes it easy for most people and families to simply stop for petrol and breakfast or lunch. And to be honest, I mostly fly to my grown-up holiday destinations these days, though my most recent break in the Midlands was an opportunity to pack food for the road, as referred to in the previous blog entry.
So I was delighted to be asked by my boyfriend to help him make food for his flight to Toronto where he spends a month or so with family every year. He has been, for years now, making himself “lugkos”(air food), for no other reason than finding the (economy class) airline food too awful. I didn’t know that it is allowed, but apparently one can carry food on board. So Friday morning found us in his kitchen, with a selection of freshest Turkish and Italian bread, and a loaf of Rye, cold cooked chicken, leftover whole fillet of beef, and assorted lettuce and rocket, whole grain mustard, creamed horseradish in a little jar, gherkins, tomatoes and mayonnaise, from which we constructed a veritable feast of sandwiches.
I smiled to think that every sandwich he un-wrapped, may have evoked a memory of me in his kitchen…