Food is like music. Just as the opening bars of Iva Davies’ Icehouse can immediately transport this week’s Sage, The Bean Counter, back to the Seventh Form Common Room of 1982, so the mere whiff of spicy apples in buttery pastry brings on faraway smiles and warm feelings. Memory is about so much more than than blurred photos and rambling stories about before-you-were-born.
As a youngster, Bean Counter was an enthusiastic student. His reports all speak of a studious, quiet, considered boy who would benefit by contributing more to class discussion (the latter comment seems to be a stock-standard New Zealand 1970’s reporting phrase, if both older Homesteader’s existing paperwork is anything to go by) and if there was one thing this young scholar was looking forward to, it was the imminent move to the local High School and the opportunity to study a language.
Sadly, when the dream became a reality and he maneuvered his shaky-kneed, you’ll-grow-into-it,-Son bottle-green uniformed self into Frau Braun’s German class, it quickly became apparent (to him at least) that this learning language caper was not going to be im park spazieren gehen. He was USELESS at it, Frau Braun HATED him, She PICKED ON HIM constantly; When it came to German, he was a dummer kopf of the highest order. He nearly didn’t go to the “party” Frau Braun organised for one lunchtime (German food, games, and music – what fun!) but she ran into him heading to the all-in football game and asked him if he’d mind carrying the wicker picnic basket for her. Anyway, long story short, this lunchtime party proved to be one of those life-changing events as Frau Braun not only proved to have a knowledge and passion for football akin to that of The fledgling Bean Counter, she also introduced him to proper, homemade, spicy, buttery Apple Strudel.
After that, when he wasn’t talking soccer he was raving about this magical taste. In fact, he went on about it so much that his shy, private, unassuming Mum, unbeknownst to him, contacted Frau Braun (and this is in the days before email and texting) for the recipe and served it up as a surprise dessert for him.
Earlier this week, he and his wonderful sister, the Lovely Mrs Dee, moved their Mum to a home capable of providing the next level of care her battle with Alzheimer’s Disease requires.
This evening, we ate strudel and smiled.