My Year

I ate a lot of French toast when I was a child. Ami knew I liked it crispy around the edges, soft and custardy in the middle and made with plain white bread. I don’t know what style of French toast she liked back then. Did she like it made with day-old bread, cut into thick slices? And what about maple syrup, did she like it with that? Or without?

When my son, Tiny Spoon, aka Turkish Delight, (his name is Turkish in origin) reaches for the French toast I make with strawberries and maple syrup, I realise that all those years as a child, I never stopped to think about what it was that my mother liked to eat.

My sisters and I liked spiced chicken soups with cinnamon and clove, the way our mother’s mother made it; we liked raspberry jam, which Ami always had in the house for us. I never thought about my mother’s preferences for food. I remember a few things, like my father coming back from business trips to London and Paris with floral shaped marzipan candies for her. She used to eat them in bed whilst reading her Barbara Cartland books at night.

It was only later, when I was a young girl that I came to know of my mother’s tastes for all things sweet and spicy. I remember going to a Vietnamese restaurant with her somewhere in the outskirts of DC, in Virginia, and tucking into a large bowl of beef pho at a Vietnamese restaurant. Ami ladled the soup into my bowl and then added some chili garlic sauce into her own bowl. I told her I wanted some of that sauce, too.

And that’s when Ami and I began to share our love for food.

Now when my mother comes to visit me, I make sure I have some of her favourite things – espresso-flavoured ice cream in the freezer, fiery chilies for her weekend masala omelettes, a strong, tannic, loose-leaf tea for her morning breakfast and lots of Greek yoghurt for her light lunches. I would like for my son to enjoy eating with me, cooking with me and maybe he will share his first bowl of pho with me, too – and ask for some Sriracha, the way I did when I was eleven.

And so, the cycle of selflessness which comes with motherhood will continue – which I learnt from my Ami.

These photos mark the closing of a ‘New Year’ of sorts for me – they are photos from the last year, after the birth of our son.

We took our son to Istanbul, the Bosphorus was grand, as always, but also dark and grey in a poetic way.

We bought small bites from Kantin, Şemsa Denizsel’s glorious restaurant.

Many mornings we had these eggs with tomatoes and onions and lots of fresh coriander. Crusty bread. Caffè lattes. That sort of thing.

My Turkish Delight continued to grow…thank you for the lovely sweater, Mrs. Trefusis.

He even became Henry Moore’s most wee fan…

I was sad to say good-bye to a dear friend who moved back to Lahore…Toronto can be so transient in that respect. We celebrated her birthday and farewell with an ombre cake layered with caramelised strawberry jam.

My husband and I had the best chocolate budino at Bestellen on Valentine’s Day (I can see many rolling of the eyes – hey, we like Valentine’s Day, what can I say?)

As a first-time mother, I made it through the year thanks to my dearest friend, B – here we are celebrating her birthday.

I was able to do lots of food-related work this year – a ‘Persian Feast’ feature I did for the BBC’s Good Food Magazine, India was published in March, 2013. And Turkish Delight approved of it, but of course.

The winter seemed to never end…but then the cherry blossoms came out.

And then I found rhubarb in the market and made a rhubarb-strawberry pudding for my husband’s best friend who visited us from Abu Dhabi.

I went on a rhubarb cooking frenzy and made rhubarb tartelettes for a dinner party for my good friends, M & M.

I made lobster tail and prawn pasta when the first candy-sweet tommies of the season hit the market.

And then we went to Paris and walked along the Canal St-Martin, all lit up – but the Paris trip, well, that’s for another post.

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Canal St-Martin




  1. What a lovely retrospective of this, Turkish Delight’s first year 🙂 He’s a lucky little guy to have experienced all that already. And what a great year for YOU too xo

  2. Your customised Turkish Delight looks exceptionally edible! Exciting pics!!

  3. What a fabulous year! Happy Birthday to Turkish Delight and here is to another brilliant year to follow x

  4. What a lovely story you have woven here. And Tiny Spoon is an absolute poppet. LLGxx

  5. Turkish delight is adorable. Mothering a son is a very different experience. He seems to be headed in the right direction with food.

    I have a two year old son and I hope he takes after me when it comes to food , the alternative is scary! 🙂 Aah to nurture little foodies!

  6. I really enjoyed this post, Shayma! Happy birthday to your tiny spoon! x

  7. I love baby toes! Great post, Shayma. – S

  8. Hi,
    Your son is lucky to have a mommy like you… Truly inspiring so many people.
    Happy one year!
    Have many more great ones ahead…

  9. What a lovely post!

  10. Congrats on the birth of your son. I too ate a lot of french toast as a child and know what you mean about the crispy edges. Brings many memories of my childhood back again.

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