Fond food memories fuel long friendship

A recipe for friendship

I am off to Vancouver this week to see a friend who lives across the world.

We've been friends since I was 19-years-old. I am a godmother to her daughter and she and her daughter were in my bridal party. We have visited on three continents and even when years went by between visits, it has always felt like I just had tea and biscuits with her yesterday when I saw her.

My girlfriend and I met on a bus tour in Europe. We made friends the first night in Paris. We were sent out on the Left Bank to find somewhere to enjoy a French coffee. We were informed of the way things work: you will pay more if you sit at a table than if you stand at the bar and you will pay even more if you choose to sit on the patio outside. (If you want to be seen, then the French philosophy is you should pay for the privilege.)

Well, the two of us came back quite chuffed (her South African expression, meaning pumped or pleased with oneself or the situation). We managed to not only have a delicious cappuccino but also spend more than anyone else, as we wanted to watch the people go by and enjoy the view. Living life to the fullest was our motto on that trip and has been ever since.

Maybe you have a friend like this. Is your friendship linked in part by the food you've shared? Are there recipes that connect you with that person?

Way back before there was the Internet, my first exposure to South African cooking was when I received a missive from my girlfriend with hand-copied recipes—some of them her favourites. They are now some of mine and every time I pull out the stationery with her beautiful notes, I think of the memories we have shared.

It can be fun to feel like a worldly cook with just a simple Google search and a bit of easy shopping in the international aisle, but I must admit I especially adore the recipes that have been passed to me by someone I know. I consider it an act of faith that they share something they enjoy and trust me to recreate. It brings friends closer together.

Over the years, my girlfriend and I have shared our flavours. I discovered Roobois tea and she discovered maple syrup. We traded favourite store-bought cookies and chocolate and candies. Different spice blends were exciting to try. She likes using my husband’s Taboo BBQ spice rub and I have a “cook's spice” blend she sent from England that is delicious. We have broadened our horizons together.

Of course, we have beautiful, shared memories of meals together too.

One of my favourite Christmases was when our two families shared the holiday in Vancouver. Martin cooked the turkey on the BBQ, which they had never seen and just to make it magical, it snowed a little bit on Christmas night while he was cooking.

Another was visiting them in England years ago. We drove up the lane to their farmhouse and saw pheasants in the field, the picture of English country living. Sitting in the kitchen with the large hearth and stone walls, we were only a bit surprised to find out it was pheasant for dinner. It was a delicious Sunday dinner that felt like something out of a BBC drama.

Then there was my trip to South Africa to visit her in 1995. We had a most memorable day in Stellenbosch wine country. I'll never forget the picnic lunch at Blaauwklippen Wine Estate. The basket was bursting with local flavours and of course, chilled wine from the estate. It was a quintessential example of South African hospitality and a postcard memory.

After 37 years of friendship, the coffee —and the tea too—is still a staple of our visits. Many cups a day are shared amidst the catching up and reminiscing.

The crumbs of treats shared has made part of the fabric of our friendship over the years, and the recipes we have used while apart, helped hold the links together. Every morsel of time we share adds to the meal that makes up our relationship.

I will leave you this week with a classic South African recipe that I got in a letter many years ago. It's still one of my faves.

In winter I like it with a cup of tea and in summer I add a bit of fresh fruit on the side. I hope you can enjoy it with one of your friends.


I write the recipe as she did on that blue airmail stationery I still have in my recipe journal:

1. Make the biscuit base:

• 1 cup graham wafer crumbs

• 1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

• 2 tbsp sugar

• 1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted

Mix ingredients in a bowl till well mixed. Spread into bottom of a pie plate or small rectangular baking dish. Refrigerate.

2. Boil together (bring to a boil, then remove from heat and stir):

• 2 cups milk

• 1/2 cup margarine or butter

3. Beat in a medium bowl:

• 2 egg yolks (save whites)

• 3/4 cup sugar

4. Mix to a paste:

• 1/4 cup milk

• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

• 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

5. Add paste to egg and sugar mixture.

6. Add paste mixture to boiled milk mixture. Cook over medium heat until thick, stirring constantly. Bring to a slow boil, then set aside to cool.

7. Beat egg whites till stiff (the 2 whites you saved). Fold into cooled custard.

8. Pour custard over biscuit base. Refrigerated till firm - at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

9. Sprinkle tart 1/4 tsp cinnamon before serving. Serve with tea

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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