There is nothing like the word Haighs for giving a person away as a South Australian!
‘What is Haighs?’ as a friend asked the other day. What?! Only the best chocolate in the world! Better than Swiss, better than (sorry to all native Western Australians!) The Margs Chocolate Factory (only marginally though) and certainly better than Hershey’s even though the Americans claim otherwise.
Having not gone back to SA for a couple of years, my supply of Haighs chocolate hasn’t been too good. I’m sure that my waistline was pleased about that, however, my tastebuds? Not so much.
Now, when I was young and at boarding school, my nana used to go to the Haighs shop at the corner of the Adelaide Mall and get a small packets of bullets, then she’d whizz across to David Jones. In the basement, was a kitchen where chefs slaved over hot stoves to make biscuits and the smell was nothing short of divine! Nana would buy a packet of freshly made chocolate chip biscuits – sometimes they were still warm! And catch the tram out to the boarding house where I was living.
Nana and I would then spend a lovely hour sitting in the sun, eating biscuits and talking. I’d save the bullets until she had left and savour them. Not because they were a treat, they were that, but because they reminded me of her. (I was a horribly homesick boarder and I also loved and missed my nana intensely.
Anyhow, this week my parents made the trek across the Nullarbor and came to see us. It was the first night, after dinner, while we were all still sitting around, chatting and catching up, when mum disappeared into her bedroom. A few moments later she was back with a bag of… Yes, you guessed it. Haighs Chocolates.
A packet of Bullets and Freckles for my daughter. A packet of Freckles and plain chocolate for my son. And for me? A packet of Bullets and one of Freckles.
I told myself I wouldn’t open them that night. I just wouldn’t. Around me the plastic was ripping and crunching as the kids unwrapped their spoils and tucking in. No! I was going to be strong and wait.
Which I did. Until I was alone in my bedroom.
The first bite of the bullet and instantly I was thrust back onto the grounds of the boarding house, with nana sitting beside me. Memories of the liquorice; fresh and the choco yummo! Nana would be laughing and telling me stories about what papa had been doing on the station. Then the hug as she left and memory of her perfume lingering on my school uniform. And the Bullets.
As I munch away on the chocolate, tucked up in bed, I thought about the laughter earlier in the evening as my kids thanked their nana as they talked and ate with her and knew they’d remember that night for a long time. And even if they forgot, the taste of Haighs chocolates would remind them from time to time.
Do you have a food that reminds you of your childhood?