IN 1985 I MOVED out of home. Into a house at Forestville, South Australia. I took with me a bed (a divan actually that doubled as a bed) a wardrobe, my desk and chair, clothes, manchester, important papers, my guitar and some cookbooks. It was the latter that started my love affair with cooking.
I wasn’t that much interested in the culinary arts at the time. Eating was a means to an end. It stopped the hunger. So for a while I lived on a steady diet of fried eggs on toast, cheese on toast, vegemite on toast and jam on toast. I don’t remember why, but one day I opened one of the cookbooks and began to flick through the pages. And started to plan a meal.
It was a large tome, a Women’s Weekly compendium of 500 dishes. You’ve probably seen it in the book section at the op-shop. Simple enough recipes, designed specifically for the uninitiated. I can’t remember the first few dishes I made but the 4 others in the household seemed to like the results. And I was given the monumental task of cooking the Christmas lunch. Nine courses. I can remember a few. Obviously the roast chook, but others, Vegetable batons with Curry flavoured dip, Coconut Ice Cream with White Rum, Rockmelon Ice with Grand Marnier; all found in the Big Red Book. Funny I should remember the ones with booze in them.
In March 1986, I moved to O’Sullivan Beach and met Jane. I now had someone to share my new found passion. She had a kitchen full of gadgets, spices and had a huge almond tree in the front garden. I was introduced to the Adelaide Central Market. And ingredients that I couldn’t wait to get home and start cooking with. Calamari, Jerusalem Artichokes, Speck, Parmesan. Every trip to the market was an adventure. In the 4 years we spent together we accumulated about 80 cookbooks, watched Floyd, Delia, Ken Hom on the TV and went to countless restaurants looking for inspiration. I discovered McLaren Vale. And wine. Real wine.
Since then I have loved every opportunity there was to get into the kitchen. I LOVE cooking. And cooking for others. It is a passion I will always have. And memories of some feasts will never fade.
I hope that you enjoy the special recipes I post on this site. Most are personal favourites that I have done many times. And some are special ones that have a memory attached, an event, a place, a special someone.
Cooking has been, and always will be, one of a few things in my life I will always treasure. It started as a happy accident. Serendipity.
The Author – Shaun Minahan