Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

A taste of sun: foods that define my summer

Summer 2020 is certainly looking different to an average summer. With holidays and festivals cancelled, it is easy to feel disheartened, especially for those who have completed a difficult academic year or need well-deserved time off work. Instead, we must rethink our summer holidays and bring our relaxation and celebration closer to home. Of course, a big part of any celebration involves food. Many of my holidays, birthdays, days out and good memories are defined by the amazing food that was involved. The sunny weather and long days bring with it a whole selection of meals, recipes and snacks to be enjoyed.

The first thing that summer calls for is a barbecue. Although I don’t have a barbecue at home, a portable barbecue will do the trick and this means that you can enjoy a slightly charred burger wherever you are. Buying several portable barbecues allows you to cater for vegetarians and vegans by keeping meat substitutes and vegetables separate.

It truly feels like summer when I can sit on the beach with a warm cod and chips

Picnics are also a summer staple and I often find they are the most fun when treated like a potluck, with each person bringing along their personal favourites. I always lean towards a small cheese board that must involve camembert, combined with some fresh French bread, grapes or summer berries, and whatever big bag of crisps is on offer. Cocktail sausages and mini scotch eggs are also my guilty pleasures.

As someone who is originally from the Suffolk coast, fish and chips are essential. It truly feels like summer when I can sit on the beach with a warm cod and chips wrapped in paper on my lap. The coast is the best place to get a seafood fix with fish being caught fresh daily. Following up a chippy tea with a Mr Whippy ice cream always goes down a treat on a hot day. The plus side is that you can finish your day with a walk along the beach.

Nothing reminds me more of post-exam celebrations than a pint in a beer garden

Of course, going to the beach is not the only summer day out to be enjoyed. I find myself visiting more food markets in the summer, particularly on my trips to London and various cities. Festivals also tend to feature different street foods. From Caribbean jerk chicken and cheesy loaded fries to vegan hot dogs and platters of sushi – everyone’s needs are catered in the likes of Camden Town, Borough Market or Old Spitalfields Market.

Finally, we can’t forget the drinks, and Pimms is my go-to. A pitcher of Pimms in the sun, well balanced by lemonade and summer fruits, is always delicious. If I fancy something sweeter, a fruity cider works well. I find that nothing reminds me more of post-exam celebrations than a pint in a beer garden, or maybe just your garden this year.

The thing about summer food is that it often becomes food associated with summer memories. Picnics, barbecues, and fish and chips on the beach are more than just delicious meals – they are a way to socialise and have fun with friends and family. Part of the fun comes from lazing in the sun afterwards, swimming in the sea, and playing rounders, which is why our food memories are so powerful.

I’m sure we all have foods that are tied to certain memories

According to psychologist Hadley Bergstrom, “taste memories tend to be the strongest associative memories that you can make.” This is not only down to the senses involved with eating, such as taste and sight, but the addition of context. So a sunny park or beach, your best friends, and the excitement of a special occasion, like the end of exam season, makes the nostalgic memories even stronger.

Taste varies massively from person to person, country to country and culture to culture. Our food memories will all be extremely different but I’m sure we all have foods that are tied to certain memories and moments in our lives.

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