Food memories – by Paul Schrader
Paul Schrader is co-owner of the superb Nikau Cafe in the City Gallery (their kedgeree is amazing). Born in Christchurch but raised in Wellington he’s lived most of his life here with his wife and son. Paul’s life’s ambitions seem to have distilled down to two - playing the perfect ninety minutes of football and growing bigger broad beans than his business partner.
I remember my father taking me to Turners and Growers markets in between Blair and Allen St when I was a young boy in the seventies. The clunky old Bedford trucks pulled up in the dockways, the familiar names and faces of greengrocers from shops that seemed to be in every suburb, the call of the auctioneer , the windblown leaves of unwanted lettuce and caulis.
Dad inevitably ended up unwittingly buying something in the heat of the auction and we would be lumbered with crates of rockmelons just starting to turn or kilos of carrots to be roasted, boiled or mashed.
Memories of the noise and busy adults going about their business among rows and rows of fresh produce have always remained with me.
It was a time in Wellington when for me at least, the city was the source of great food related memories.
A family dinner at the 1860s on Lambton Quay finishing with real ice cream sundaes, trying to drink brewed coffee in a valiant attempt to impress in the courtyard of the original Matterhorn tearooms, the hot roasted nut stand down the stairs in James Smiths that lured you in with it’s heady aroma, the treat of Homestead fried chicken eaten in the distinctive green boxes in the old pigeon park.
It all seemed so exciting and new to a young impressionable boy. It makes me think what similar experiences my son and his contemporaries might enjoy.
They can enjoy the same kind of noise and hustle and bustle of any one of our weekend markets from Porirua to Newtown as their fathers once again buy way too much produce.
A trip to the Nut Store on Cuba St will bring back the nutty smell from Lambton Quay, brewed coffee is having a renaissance as young hipsters fill the seats at Customs Brew Bar and taste all types of single blends.
I hate to think what might await these youngsters in the courtyard at the Matterhorn in years to come.
They are a lucky bunch to be growing up in a city that offers as much as this one does.
I guess I am equally lucky to be able to introduce them to some of these delights and at the same time recapture a little of those early memories.