Food memories: the first time

The first time trying any food is usually the most memorable and especially so if it is something polarising like blue cheese or durian, or confronting like balut or snake.

Personally, growing up Chinese (or any ethnicity for that matter) there are and aren’t a lot of foods that will shock me. Various parts including the innards of an animal are commonplace – less so in modern times – due to agriculture being laborious, traditionally the lifeline of so many, and a bid to minimise wastage. So for me, perhaps strangely to everyone else, my “first time” food memories relate to things which are inherently non-Chinese and quite possibly unexotic to everyone else.

Banana chips did not and do not exist in our household. They only made an appearance at my grandparents’ place when my grandfather lived for a few brief years in Sydney before deciding to return to China. He munched on them regularly. I remember sitting on the knee of one of his lanky legs and holding a golden disc between my stubby four-year-old fingers. Popping it in my mouth, I remember crunchy banana-ness – no surprises there – and being somewhat disappointed as I wasn’t, and still am not, a big fan of bananas.

Cheesecake memories are much more exciting, however. I distinctly remember trying cheesecake for the first time whilst I was a young teen living in Hong Kong. A city not associated with cheesecake – yes, I know – but a city with expats from many countries, particularly English-speaking ones, which makes for a market for Western products and foods. During her younger years, one of my aunts was a live-in cook and maid for an American family posted to Hong Kong for business. It was during that time that she discovered the delights of cheesecake which she, in turn, introduced to my cousins and I from that frozen supermarket foods institute known as Sara-Lee. I can only imagine how funny a sight it would have been for passers-by to witness one grown woman accompanied by five pre-pubescent kids digging into a frozen cheesecake with plastic spoons just outside a supermarket!

Avocado I didn’t try until I was around 16 at a friend’s family barbeque. It was in a salad and, although underwhelmed at first, I later came to appreciate its pairing with and enhancement of other things such as chicken, salmon, toast, nachos… My mother has since explained the absence of avocado from our household, apart from it being not a part of her Cantonese cooking – she had never had it herself and had no idea how it tasted!

“Gourmet pizza” is a term which became popular when I was… (Actually, I won’t tell you when because that would be disclosing my age. Which is never polite for a lady to do, ahem.) It’s always been a term which I’ve found confusing as I can’t determine to whom it is considered gourmet. I grew up with Cantonese cooking almost seven nights a week and pizza usually meant my mother coming home from the supermarket with those frozen subs topped with ham and pineapple. So it was a definite revelation when Gourmet Pizza Kitchen opened and was one of only a few who offered wood-fired pizzas. It soon became a regular choice for gatherings with friends and years later they still have several outlets with pretty much an unchanged menu.

These days, first-time food experiences are usually experienced camera in-hand and are documented with a blog post. More nerve-wracking than trying an unusual food is meeting a food-blogger for the first time, although I am always comforted by the ease at which conversation flows when it comes to the topic of food.

Bar Biaggio proved to be a lovely setting to brunch with Starloz for the first time, overlooking the water at Pyrmont with boats moored alongside. Food servings were generous and they use sourdough bread (yay!). I especially like how neither the mushrooms nor spinach were overly oily; always an ironic issue when they’re oiler than the bacon or sausages on the same plate! Their coffee is well made but lacking in latte art when we were there (I know, I know, it doesn’t affect the taste!), although I definitely was none the wiser when trying espresso coffee for the first time at the age of 21 – it was a takeaway caffe mocha from a university coffee cart.

So, what is your earliest or most memorable food experience?

happy eating!


  1. haha you mean, avocado on everything? :P

    food memories.. well I once tried to fedd a gluestick to my sister by sticking it in an empty skin and pretending it was a banana haha I'm an awful sister. ooo I am partial to durian

    love gourmet pizza kitchen :)

  2. I remember my first food memory when I was 6. Pikelets. Omg. I think in that moment, I was reborn as an all-Aussie girl.

  3. I remember the first time I had avocado. I couldn't get over how fatty it tasted. Now, of course, I love the stuff.

    One of my earliest memories of food was the treat of having char siu for dinner. It was like candy!

  4. I love food memories! My earliest is of eating my grandmother's beef mince, peas, and egg rice. I make it every now and then just to feel the good old times. :-)

  5. Good call about the spinach and mushrooms - I like to add spinach to my breaky when ordering out, for a bit of green freshness, and it's so disappointing when a green oilslick is presented to me!

    Freshly cracked almonds, so much fun busting them open as a little child. Hated the taste but that's not the point :)

  6. ahh- love these memories!! Funny how mine are related to chinese food and going to china town when we visited the city!

  7. Ngaww... What a lovely post! I love how food triggers so many memories, especially our first timers.. I think my first food memory was of making and having scones for the first time in year 1 - this was probably the turning point in my young life that I loved being in the kitchen and baking/cooking.

    WAHHH? You don't like BA-NAH-NAH...?

  8. ah how i wouldve loved to see a pic of you guys chowing into the cheesecake!

  9. Too many food memories to list. But I do remember when GPK opened in Miranda, could not get enough of it. Saying that, haven't been there for years. Hmm is it still there?

  10. Hmmm...probably seeing a goat tied up to a tree in my backyard, killed then eating the soup made out of it. Each spoonful reminded me of it's... Not exactly a great memory but a memory no less. haha

  11. Earliest food memories? Pre kindergarten I remember there was a chinese takeaway across the road from my parents bakery, fried rice with sweet & sour pork was a dish I absolutely adored back then! Nowadays I look at the stuff and think how much oil and fat is in it. Oh and during early primary school years my teacher taught us basic 'cooking' I still remember the smell and taste of freshly baked damper with butter and golden syrup. Mmmm! I could go on and on but will stop there =)

  12. wow, i have too many food memories and i cant really figure out which one comes first anymore...but i did try snake, durian, rabbit, turtle, blue cheese, donkey and other wacky...or i should say 'exotic' foods before.

  13. I'm not a big fan of banana chips, but I like bananas...
    To be honest, I can't at all remember my first food memory :S

  14. Yup, I remember my mum going gaga over Sara Lee cheesecakes those days and I wondered what all that fuss was about, and I'm still wondering..

  15. You and I share freakish similarities sometimes - I'm hearing you about bananas. I'm not into them - can smell/detect someone eating them in the office & invariably stand up and point at them accusingly much to the amusement of my colleagues. I have plenty of food memories, but a fond one was buying lollies on the way to primary school - a packet for 1 or 2c and my favourites were the yellow and white worms and pineapples.

  16. My earliest memory of food...and enjoying a plate is SAD. Because it was at a fast food resturant in the UK called Wimpy where I ate my first 'happy meal', gorged myself on 2 happy meals actually. Ended up in tears, stomach distended....but haven't looked back since. It brought me face to face with the joys of food. Sad like I said............have a great Easter break

  17. Mango Sara Lee

  18. Hey Grace, I do find avocado pretty awesome these days but sure not on everything? =p And LOL glue stick disguised as banana?!

    Hey Karen, I remember mum buying packet pikelets and we'd stick them in the toaster to reheat!

    Hey Helen, char-siu was and still is one of my loves from childhood, especially when stickily coated with honey!

    Hey Joey, love fried rice with beef mince, egg and peas/lettuce but unfortunately not from being cooked at home, I'm afraid.

    Hey Conor, I'm not sure I've tried fresh almonds...but I'm sure the childhood memory extends to the fun of picking them and cracking them open and not just the eating part =)

    Hey Gastronomy Gal, eheh, we all know about your love affair with yumcha!

    Hey Phuoc, I'm afraid I don't have much bah-nah-nah love =( No scones for me, but I do remember baking cheese puff pastry sticks in Year 1 or 2 at school!

    Hey chocolatesuze, LOL we are a food oriented family! =D

    Hey Sara, GPK is still there! Same spot with no changes to decor or size either.

    Hey Adrian, a very vivid memory!

    Hey Angie, so much fun - more cooking for kids should be done at primary school!

    Hey sugarpuffi, heheh, exotic for some but not for others =D

    Hey Tina, teehee, too much food to remember?

    Hey chopinandmysaucepan, because often frozen cheesecakes are the introduction to the great cheesecake world!

    Hey Forager, haha, I'm not quite as sensitive as you about bananas but I do remember small paper bags of lollies from the school canteen - bliss!

    Hey Kitchen Butterfly, no need to be ashamed! The husband and I both recall fondly the McDonald's kids' meals of yore which came in plastic containers shaped as ships or cars etc which came with stickers for decorating =)

    Hey Liverella, mango Sara Lee cake or ice-cream? Friend told me there used to be a mango pound cake just last night!

  19. Before I forget.. I need to enlist your help in finding sara lee poundcake! The used to sell them in supermarkets and now are nowhere to be found!

    My earliest food memory is helping my grandma bake her tollhouse choc chip cookies! I'd always lick the spoon clean for some yummy cookie dough and collapse with a sore tummy afterwards :s

  20. Gianna! I have to sadly report that I've been searching for those Sara Lee poundcakes for at least a month now and they are no longer anywhere to be found!! I really miss the chocolate one =(


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