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Maryann's food memories: Early twenties

Leaving home at 18 I went to Bristol Poly for three years, I loved Bristol and still do, it has an amazing food scene now, which was just starting to emerge then, I didn’t eat out a lot at that time due to student finances but whenever my parents came up we would explore somewhere new.

It was and still is such a diverse city, I first lived in Fishponds, then Clifton which led down to Park Street which the last time I went to Bristol looked pretty sad, it was a fabulous street at the time full of coffee shops, cafes, independent restaurants and beautiful thriving shops, my mum always made a beeline for the Bristol Guild which was full of amazing pots and pans, artwork and a mecca for cooks and food lovers.

Living in a student house in my second year with four friends we would take a day each to cook a meal each night for the others on the week days , this worked really well and we would all enjoy sitting down together at the end of each day, some were better cooks than others and we worked to a tight budget but the treat of being cooked for, whatever it was was appreciated by all.

When returning from Wales I would bring fresh vegetables and fruit and occasional cuts of meat from my parents small holding which we would feast on, my friends loved coming to Wales to stay and enjoyed my mums amazing cooking, she was of the Elizabeth David school of cooking, mostly self taught but had an amazing understanding of flavour and used great local ingredients which has inspired my style of cooking to this day.

I met Simon in Paris, we were on the same study trip, had been in the same city on different campuses, had mutual friends but had never met in Bristol. What a great place to meet.

My first holiday after meeting Simon was inter-railing around Europe, we visited friends and family in Holland and Switzerland, camped in France and Italy, stayed in the occasional small hotel in Sardinia when we were desperate for a comfy bed and a private shower and had a memorable Spaghetti a la vongole in a small restaurant where we craved a restaurant meal but were running out of lire and presumed correctly the first item on a restaurant menu would probably be the cheapest and it was delicious.

Married at 21, baby Joel at 22, those years were a whirlwind of graduating, getting jobs, part time for me, full time proper job for Simon , buying our first house and car, living very simply and frugally and growing up very fast, we ate mainly vegetarian with the occasional cut of good beef, chicken or lamb which we stretched over several meals, we were resilient and strived to be fiercely independent we had taken on a mortgage we could barely afford when 100% mortgages were handed out freely, travelling and holidays were off the cards for a few years and real life had hit us, sounds a bit like a 80's Squeeze song.