Our Favorite Foods (And The Clothes We’d Rather Forget) – Advice Eating

Oh, moms. I have to love her The Good Food team shares the successes and failures in their respective mothers’ (and grandmothers’) kitchens with some recurring, comfortingly beige themes: bechamel, potatoes and pasta casseroles.


“Cauliflower Cheese. Hold the cauliflower.” Photo: iStock

My mom made the best ever: Bechamel (aka “white”) sauce. For years I thought cauliflower was my favorite vegetable because I only ate it with our weekly Sunday roast drowned in Mom’s cheesy, creamy, thick white sauce. “What would you like for your birthday dinner, Andy?” Cauliflower Cheese. Hold the cauliflower.

It then evolved into the base for other childhood favorites: Tuna Casserole (add sweetcorn and tuna), Chicken Pie (add sweetcorn and chicken), and Macaroni Cheese (add macaroni and more cheese). The secret? Butter, flour, whole milk, handful of cheddar. What’s not to love?

One of my mother’s dishes that I would happily never eat again is: “Mum’s Fried Rice”. Mom’s Asian cooking skills have come a long way since then, but in the ’80s it was a salty concoction of rice, way too much soy sauce, some scrambled egg shards, and peas.


My mom made the best ever: Scrambled eggs. It was the first thing I learned how to cook. LOTS of butter, I’d say close to 40 percent, cooked very slowly and taken off the heat early so it was never the solid, knife-cut stuff you get everywhere else. (Even worse, a hotel I visited with my grandmother used powdered eggs, which appalled us both. One of the few times I’ve returned a dish, and at the tender age of seven!)

One of my mother’s dishes that I would happily never eat again is: “Curry” made from minced meat and curry powder. urgh I just ate the rice, sprinkled with all the accompaniments – chopped peanuts, cucumber, tomato and banana plus sultanas and grated coconut.

Potato salad with bacon miso mayonnaise.  Picnic Salad Recipes for Good Food November 2019. Pictures and Recipes by Katrina Meynink.  Only use for good food.

Katrina Meynink’s Modern Potato Salad with Bacon Miso Mayonnaise (recipe here). Photo: Katrina Meynink


My mom made the best ever: Potatoes. Mum shares her name with an instant potato brand, but Mum’s potatoes leave Deb in the (dehydrated) dust. Always perfectly crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, baked wish potatoes with skin were casually popped into the oven and safely retrieved at the right time every time.

I took over their potato salad, which features a mixture of diced red onions and bacon, pan-fried together until the former is tender and the latter is crispy (also an essential topping for the aforementioned baked spuds), and cooled before adding them tossed in a large bowl of chilled, pre-cooked cocktail dumplings (slightly under-cooked to keep their shape) mixed with a generous dollop of thomy mayo and finished with chives.

One of my mother’s dishes that I would happily never eat again is: Pasta bake with canned salmon – the memory of crunching the bones still makes me shudder.


My mom made the best ever: Pasta with roasted pumpkin. It may be a turn-of-the-century calling card, but the recipe she saw in a 2001 gourmet traveler is full of clever tricks that still stand (helped by a generous amount of butter). Whole garlic cloves are roasted with the squash and later added to the butter sauce for extra oomph, while adding chunks of pancetta to sauté for a few minutes is for clever pan-cooking. Bonus points for getting your kids to eat more veggies mom.

One of my mother’s dishes that I would happily never eat again is: tuna in the morning. My early encounters with corn, peas, and spicy tuna sprinkled in a creamy sauce made me want to pair seafood with cream.

A Christmas dinner hosted by Steve Manfredi at his home in Camperdown for family and friends.  Gnocchi with potatoes and bottarga.  SMH THE (SYDNEY) MAGAZINE Picture by JENNIFER SOO SMAG091126

Hand formed potato gnocchi. Photo: Jennifer Soo


My nonna made the best ever: Gnocchi. For those lucky enough to have tasted them, their gnocchi will be remembered as the GOAT. The mouth-melting potato pillows struck that elusive textural balance of soft yet sturdy and were deftly nubbed with a wooden paddle to infuse the rich Napoletana sauce. My family would gorge themselves on it until our stomachs were sore, refusing to waste a single starchy dumpling. As Nonna got older, I took a notepad into the kitchen to keep the magic alive, but her way of cooking boiled down to a “feeling” that I was never quite able to relate to.

A dish my nonna made that luckily I could never eat again is: green beans. For all my nonna’s strengths, cooking beans wasn’t one of them. I remember they were cooked to the point where they lost all structural integrity to the point that I had trouble picking them up with a fork. These days I prefer my veggies deep fried.


My mom made the best ever: Roast Chicken. Nothing but nothing said a special occasion like Mama’s Roast. It’s also not like she did anything wildly creative. No filling. No fancy marinades or spice mixes. I just bought a good bird, fried it until the skin was crispy and golden and the flesh was tender but not pink, and shipped it with lots of gravy and fried potatoes.

It’s still my desert island dish, but these days I prefer it fried a la Marcella Hazan in The basics of classic Italian cuisine. Hazan seasons it inside and out with salt and pepper, fills the cavity with two small lemons (pricked several times to let the juice run out), secures it with toothpicks and roasts it breast-side down first before turning it over so that the chest up.

One of my mother’s dishes that I would happily never eat again is: Ketchup. Mama is an excellent cook, always ready to try new recipes and shy away from waste before it becomes fashionable again. But I could never figure out their homemade ketchup, which the family called DTS (Dreaded Tomato Sauce). It tended to ferment, resulting in some spectacular explosions. I’m sorry mom, but I prefer Heinz.


My mom made the best ever: It was Lemon Meringue Pie or Bust when it came to baking for my mom. I remember her mixing, rolling and folding the dough by hand, then layering tangy yellow lemon curd and spoonfuls of fluffy, hand-beaten meringue on top. The result was sunshine in a bowl, fresher and lighter than anything I’ve eaten since. Mom’s recipe was simple and reminiscent of those healthy Kitchen Version that uses egg for a richer crust. Passed down and adapted by her mother, it was originally made in the residual heat of the wood-fired oven after the main courses had been cooked and served.

One of my mother’s dishes that I would happily never eat again is: Brown rice everything. Sure, it’s probably healthier than some white varieties, and it has a chewy and nutty flavor that works in certain dishes like ’70s-style stuffed peppers. But in fried rice? I prefer the white stuff.

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