Today the girls and I ate a Red Baron pizza for lunch. For some reason, this does remind me of home. I think my sister always had these on hand or maybe it’s because we’ve been abel to find them in most of the countries we’ve lived in. It’s a quick, easy dinner (or lunch) and it feels very familiar.
But I don’t go out looking to buy Red Baron because it reminds me of home. Looking around my kitchen for inspiration, I have a myriad of things that could remind me of life, pre-traveling. There is canned tuna- a favorite meal growing up was my mom’s tuna salad. It was a delicious mess of tuna and mayo, spiral pasta and green peas. There is the inevitable Kraft mac and cheese and sometimes Velveeta though I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have these in my cabinets so, again, it doesn’t take me home (only to a very happy place). I have a box of grits, and we had the instant kind in the house growing up, but not often. Grits remind me of Waffle House, which is home but only sorta-kinda. There are Cheerios, which was one of the only cereals we ever had when I was a young sprout, but I don’t get to eat them here because they belong to the Ladybug and the Sprout.
There are new things in my house that have made their way in since meeting and marrying the Rugby
Star (who’s new name may be changed to the Recipe Follower, but that’s for a different day). I seem to always have a jar of Bisto gravy mix in the cabinet, along with a box of Paxo stuffing. There is brown sauce tucked in amongst the oils and breadcrumbs, and there is Branston pickle in my refrigerator. I know these remind the RS/RF of home and he was elated to find them as a staple here in Bahrain (if you’re not aware, Bahrain’s expat community is largely British).
There are certain dishes that I make at certain times of the year that remind me of home. Deviled eggs are a particular favorite, as is potato salad, but I only eat them at Thanksgiving really. I had a blast from the past a few weeks ago when the RS/RF brought home flake, boxed mashed potatoes for a recipe he was trying (and following). While I definitely prefer homemade mash, the flaked variety was comforting and time-warped me back to grilled chicken/broccoli/mashed potato night. But it’s not something we keep in the house on a regular basis.
If I’m being honest, a good, old fashioned English dinner is starting to remind me of home. The in-laws go all out, every Sunday with a roast (or ham or turkey), mashed potatoes, parsnips, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peas, Yorkshire pudding, and gravy. If we’re there, because the RS requests it, there is stuffing and pigs in blankets, which, in England, are little sausages wrapped in bacon. For Christmas dinner, add in two sauces and roasted potatoes and there is barely room for us to sit at the table!
We try to do a Sunday roast one a month-ish. It’s a lot of prep work and it means the RS is in the kitchen for most of the day. But I love sitting down with the in-laws for meals, during Christmas and summer. They cook for us when they come and visit and it feels all ‘proper family time.’ You miss that as an expat. There’s no popping over to Grandma’s for lunch or ‘I was just driving-by,’ visits. You can’t send the kids over to spend the night, just for a teeny-tiny break. I want it and I miss it and when we have a Sunday roast, here or in England, it feels like home. It feels like family. Our family. My family.