Erika won our guest post contest with a wonderful piece of writing that touched people – read it here.
Now she’s done it again, finding that taking her family to Woven to enjoy their prize lunch evokes all sorts of fabulous family foodie memories.
She’s a star!
By Erika Jonsson
When my sisters and I were young, Mum used to let us choose the menu for our birthday dinners.
The options were endless. Would it be pasta, Sichuan-style chicken, oyster beef or tacos?
Roast pork with crackling, chicken with lemongrass or wonton soup?
My mouth still waters thinking about it.
Funnily enough, my younger sister and I always chose the same dish, albeit with different sides.
Trish picked steamed vegetables (which I still find odd) while I chose corn and twice-cooked chips.
The meat was schnitzel – usually veal – that was succulent and tender, crumbed to perfection and fried
just long enough to cook through.
It was heaven.
Year after year our menu remained unchanged.
When I was 14 and nine months old, I started working at a toyshop on Friday nights and Saturday mornings.
My family lived out of town, so my little part-time job meant spending the night at my grandparents’ place.
They had immigrated to Australia from England when my mum was a child, and
Grandma’s cooking was Britain’s finest.
Pork pie, battered fish, Yorkshire pud, roast anything.
The only herbs I remember in her kitchen cupboard were salt, pepper and season-all.
Everything she cooked was simple but so tasty.
On Fridays before I started work, Grandma would cook big fat pork schnitzels with chips and corn – my favourite meal.
While the meat was the star of the show, the chips were really my favourite.
Potato in any form was welcome on my plate – with a combination of English and Swedish heritage, that’s probably no surprise.
My love for potatoes led to disaster when I left home and headed to the big smoke to study.
I’d been led to believe a fast metabolism was the reason for my then slim figure.
Well, my metabolism and I both got lazy at uni – and I put on about a dozen kilos by eating twice-cooked chips for dinner around five nights a week.
The day my knee-high boots wouldn’t zip up properly, I swore off chips, lost most of my potato weight and gave away my deep fryer.
Since then, chips have only been an occasional indulgence – a special return to my youthful addiction.
Last week I came as close as I ever have to ordering chips as a main when my family went to Woven in Yarraville for lunch.
And that was after I had already eaten my main.
My meal was a perfectly modern re-imagining of my favourite childhood dish.
The pork tonkatsu burger was made up of a juicy pork loin crumbed in panko inside a brioche bun with house-pickled daikon, Kewpie mayo sauce and a cabbage and fennel slaw.
Right next door to the burger was a generous serve of hand-cut chips, still in their skins – just like I like them.
Those chips transported me to Friday nights at Grandma’s, to special birthday dinners and to university over-indulgence.
Normally, I share my meals with my kids but not this day.
My husband, who had the bang-up burger with chips, also found his plate was under attack – but I protected my potatoes with a ferocity I didn’t know I possessed.
“Please, Mama? Could I please share your chips?” my son Joe pleaded after he had finished with his crumpets with honey, caramelised pear and mascarpone.
I feigned deafness and kept eating with greedy abandon, using my chips to mop up tasty drips of Kewpie sauce.
There is magic in food.
Smells and tastes can evoke stronger memories than pictures – such was the case for me at Woven.
It was a magical meal – I definitely plan to go back soon, though I’ll have to watch my waist.
Thank you to Dan, Dave and their team for a great meal and a great experience.
Thanks also to Consider The Sauce for offering such a special prize – I’ve never won anything so tasty!