When I was little I had several appointments a year with a variety of specialists. Heart, bones, eyes, teeth; doctors and their students examining me through lenses and tubes, x-rays and adult hands. I would get the day off school and sit around at my parent's work. If Mum was taking me we'd go across to the supermarket to get lunch. My regular meal was a jelly cup and a sandwich, shaved ham and iceberg lettuce on white bread, with a grinding of salt and pepper. Despite being entirely empty calories I did have one for the first time in years a few weeks ago and it remains an excellent sandwich. If I stayed with Dad we'd go to one of the various cafes in Southbank. He had his regulars, and I am always wary when I feel that I visit the same cafe and order the same thing too often.
On my birthdays my parents or my grandmother would take me to the city to visit either the art gallery or the museum. The art gallery in Brisbane is one of the things I miss most (and I would love so much to get up there now for the David Lynch exhibit). I've been feeling nostalgic for Brisbane a lot recently; I miss the sun and the beach and the houses in the suburb I grew up in. I even, to an extent, miss the weather. I lived in the same house for about 12 years. I miss some of the people - not all.
There was a cafe in the middle of the Queen Street Mall which used to have sugar cubes on every table. I don't know which cafe it was or even if it's still there, and I don't know if I ever went there more than once or twice. I just remember being enamoured with the grainy white cubes in the little pot. I think I had probably read about them in some novel about swotty English school children or other.
For some reason a couple of months ago I had a mild fixation about sugar cubes. This happens. I realised I hadn't seen them anywhere in ages. I looked for them at the supermarket, but was unsuccessful. Every cafe with boring paper packets of sugar was a disappointment. I happened upon artisan sugar cubes on Etsy, but wasn'tquite prepared to drop $30 for handcrafted, pastel coloured, doily shaped, rose flavored bit of sugar (my loss).
Last week I went to a cafe in Emporium with a friend. There were little white pots on the tables with shiny pairs of miniature silver tongs. Cue irrational excitement. Both brown and white sugar cubes! Sugar cube tongs! Sugar cube bowl thingies! It took enormous levels of self restraint to only drop a single sugar cube into my coffee, instead of just piling them in, one after the other. I was taking photos of the sugar cubes while my friend tried to tell me a story. Thankfully she understood and shared in my enthusiasm.
I have satisfied this childhood food quest. Now I just need to find somewhere that sells stripy jelly in perfect thin layers like they used to sell in China Town. Or Jenny Craig mac 'n' cheese. Or coffee scrolls. Or honey jumbles.