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101 Things in 1001 Days: ....Earliest Memory

Sunday, June 04, 2006

....Earliest Memory


It is 1973. I am three years old and I am in my kindergarten in Berlin. It is lunch time and all the kids are seated at a long table waiting for the food to be served. I am particularly excited because I know what’s for dessert. Strawberries and cream - my absolute favourite! I cannot wait to gulp my lunch down just to get to the dessert.

The kitchen doors open and the trays come out, the bowls on them placed in neat rows. I cannot see the contents of the bowls but whatever it is, is steaming. I’m curious.

The bowl lands in front of me and I peer in. My heart sinks as I recognise what it is. LABSKAUS! I burst into tears. I HATED labskaus!!!!!!! Now for those of you who are wondering what in the world this is, I’ll give you a quick cookery lesson.

Labskaus is a German dish made from minced cured meat, fried with onions, black pepper, pickled cucumber, potatoes, beetroot and other bits and bobs. And since it’s a dish favoured by sailors (or so I am told) sometimes minced herrings are added to it. Sounds yummy, doesn’t it?

Anyway, I cry and cry and cry. I refuse to eat it. Not one single morsel of this dish is going to go through these lips. I am determined not to give in.

The teacher tells me that if I don’t eat my food up then I don’t get any strawberries. Those were the rules. But even that threat is not enough to make me eat my plateful of labskaus.

It’s funny, but my memory stops here. I don’t remember if I ever got to eat dessert. I do know my refusal and manic crying was reported to my mum (who secretly supported me as she couldn’t stand the dish herself) but whatever the final out come was, well, I guess I’ll never know.

But to this day, I can remember the smell of the dish, which for some reason I have linked to the taste of celery – a vegetable I detest. It’s really strange what sticks in the mind, isn’t it?

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12 Comments:

Blogger Jemima said...

This is nearly a version of many of my early and not so early memories. The battle of wills, my absolute certainty I could not swallow what someone bigger (concerned about vitamins and pressured by financial restrictions no doubt) wanted me to swallow.

Celery, I agree, cannot go near the stuff. Only one item on a massive long list. What can I say, I have refined tastes.

Sunday, June 04, 2006  
Blogger boliyou said...

Wow...that's a story I can completely relate to. I wonder if there's anyone who doesn't have at least one meal-mutiny locked in their memory?

wonderful post, thanks for sharing.

Sunday, June 04, 2006  
Blogger paris parfait said...

That's interesting that you can remember the first bit so clearly, but not the conclusion of that episode. And you still detest that dish, but do you still love strawberries and cream? Thanks for sharing this bittersweet story.

Monday, June 05, 2006  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Great story, memory is such a funny thing...

Monday, June 05, 2006  
Blogger Cee said...

What a vivid memory. It's funny how we link things together as well - how scents and flavours associate themselves with certain memories. The mind is a fascinating place.

Monday, June 05, 2006  
Blogger Laini said...

I can well imagine how tragic and unfair that must have seemed! And what a culinary delight - yum! Who comes up with such ideas? Better yet, who decides to feed them to children? I have a memory of a mountain of sweet potato souffle on my plate when I was 6 or 7, and I forced myself to eat it because there was strawberry shortcake for dessert -- now I know I would love sweet potato souffle, so it's hard to imagine the trauma. But the injustice is very clear in my memory: my older brother didn't eat his souffle and he STILL got dessert!!

Monday, June 05, 2006  
Blogger Colorsonmymind said...

Very interesting memory-thanks for sharing it

Monday, June 05, 2006  
Blogger Ali la Loca said...

I have a similar memory, only it was my mom and her husband at the time trying to get me to eat shark meat for some gourmet dinner they were cooking at home. I refused, and cried, and screamed. What battles small children are capable of when "gross" food is involved!

Monday, June 05, 2006  
Blogger sheela said...

Hmm. Sounds absolutely vile. I don't blame you for not wanting to touch the stuff.

Monday, June 05, 2006  
Blogger MiandMiksmom said...

I loved reading this! It is amazing what the mind remembers...and doesn't remember. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006  
Blogger megg said...

I really enjoyed this! I have a vivid memory of a time when I was very small and my Mom tried to put liver into spaghetti sauce. It's funny how vivid memories associated with smell and taste are!!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006  
Blogger ian russell said...

yeah, what was that deal with eating up what you didn't want? i suppose the generation who made the rule were used to more austere times. i made sure i didn't do this with my own children.

that labskaus sounds like our bubble and squeak. i bet the beetroot made it a red mess! great story!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006  

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