Join me on my first Vegan MoFo journey! I’ll be trying to follow as many daily prompts as I can whilst drawing inspiration from childhood food memories. I hope you enjoy these posts as much as I enjoy writing them!
For day 1, our theme is breakfast and I can’t think of many meals that are more studded with memory.
Probably my earliest memory of breakfast is the ReadyBrek porridge (or oatmeal, to my American readers) that my mum used to make me, steaming hot and creamy rich, sprinkled generously with sticky dark brown sugar that would melt ever so slightly around the edges into a glorious molasses-rich puddle.
But I have an equally fond memory for the colourful and textured platters of fruit my mum used to make for me to have before school; always a variety of fresh fruits, some dried fruits, and some raw nuts. I would sit in front of the TV and pick my way through it at my leisure – is there a better way for a child to start the day?
Breakfasts at my grandparents’ in Paris get me a little misty-eyed too, now that I think about it. My grandma always heated my milk up for my cereal – slowly, in a pan, because they didn’t have a microwave – and I would sit alone at a chunky old-fashioned dining table watching Dragonball-Z, fishing my way through the pack for the surprise toy hidden inside, and playing the games on the back of the cereal pack. I mainly remember having Chocos, thick petals of chocolate-flavoured wheat that don’t seem to exist in the UK (why???).
But the breakfast memories to end all breakfast memories has to be our family Sunday morning ritual. Every Sunday, my dad and I would get up first, and we would make croissants from a tin and freshly-squeezed orange juice, which we would bring up to my mum on a tray with a cappuccino, for her to enjoy in bed with some peace and quiet. We did this ever since I can remember, but as I edged into teenhood sadly I gave up getting out of bed and my mum ended up being the one to get up and make the breakfasts.
There are so many little details I remember about that weekly routine: clearing the fruit bowls away from the marble slab and wiping it down in order to roll the croissants out on it; the day they added a recommendation to cut a 3-4cm slit down the base of the triangle of dough before rolling it; sneaking the odd corner of raw dough into my mouth to nibble on as I rolled the six croissants; dissolving some sugar into a little ramekin of milk to brush onto the croissants before baking, and leaving the leftover sweetened milk out for the stray cats to lap up; the distinctive sound of our citrus lever-press being swung into action and the spray of fresh pulpy juice into the jug beneath; and, in my younger years of taking part, my dad and I imploring the croissants to cook nicely with a joyful “Cuisez bien, les croissants!” sung out together as we shut the oven door.
My only real, flaky, buttery, bakery-style vegan croissant ever was enjoyed at Ieperfest in Belgium – ironically, before I had ever really thought about going vegan (though I do credit Ieperfest itself with being a driving force in getting me to educate myself on the matter and making the switch). I was 15, and eating that croissant in the sun on the parking lot that was hosting the hardcore and metal music festival remains one of my fondest ever teenage memories.
Although I have still not had an authentically flaky vegan croissant since then, it might be more fitting that I can get my hand on accidentally-vegan Jusrol croissants in a tin – just like the ones I grew up with, minus the animal goo!
These look and taste exactly like the croissants of my childhood!
Unfortunately, these days, I rarely bother with much of a breakfast – or if I do, it tends to be at lunchtime – so even though we have since made these croissants many times, they have been robbed of their ritual. Even so, there is something a little bit magical about the way the can pops open, the way in which my fingers know exactly how tightly to roll the triangles of dough for perfect crescent shapes. And, always, being able to share a moment of peace and togetherness over a special breakfast.
I could go on and on with these breakfast memories… but VeganMoFo 2015 is young and I fear I will run out of words! So I hand over to you… What is your favourite breakfast memory?