My trip has been postponed, so I have time to add my own story. Some of this, but not all, I've mentioned on eG in other contexts.
My mother was born in France and when she was nine years old Hitler invaded. My grandfather worked for the French government in some mysterious category which I've never understood and nearly the whole family fled as he was almost certain to be shot if found. My mother was the youngest of 13 kids! 5 boys 8 girls. The boys, by then men, were in the army and so remained longer. All the girls other than the eldest left for Britain and relative safety. The eldest lived through the occupation under an assumed name and survived. In fact the whole family survived the war, unlike so many.
Once the war was over, most of the family's refugees scattered across the world. I have family on almost every continent. My grandparents returned to France. My mother, one sister and one brother remained in the UK. Now 90, my mother is the only one still alive.
Anyway, this all preamble to cooking. She grew up, from the age of nine in wartime England under strict rationing. Her mother did not allow her to learn to cook. Food was too scarce to be "practised on". If she messed up or even burned the dinner, it was all over. You couldn't rush out and buy more. So she never really learned to cook until she moved to Scotland and married my father.
He was of a generation or generations of men who wouldn't stoop so low as to cook and to this day I remain half convinced he didn't know our house had a kitchen, or where it was, or what happened there. Food for him just arrived like storks bringing babies. I doubt he ever thought about it.
So, growing up, food to me was simply fuel. The height of mother's culinary skill was not actively poisoning us. Taste, texture, or appearance did not enter the equation. Now, please don't think I am slandering my mother in public in any way. She happily admits to being the world's worst cook and a disgrace to her French heritage.
Then, I think it must have been 1959 or 1960, both my parents were struck by a flu epidemic. Real flu. Not a bit of a cold self-pityingly described as flu and, as the eldest offspring, it fell to me to keep my siblings' hunger at bay. I vividly remember going shopping then running back and forward between the kitchen and my parents' bed room getting mumbled instructions and trying to carry them out.
I made a sort of mince and tatties, that Scottish gourmet classic. It was probably overcooked and under seasoned, if seasoned at all. I forget the details. Selective amnesia probably, but no one died. We survived until help arrived in the large shape of my father's ancient, widowed aunt, a terrifying woman who smelled of Victorian Scotland and mothballs.
I still didn't take up cooking properly until years later I met my first girlfriend and her father cooked me a meal that changed my life. He made a simple omelet and for the first time I discovered that food can taste good! It was sublime. As I've mentioned here before, I still follow his technique meticulously. You could say that I suddenly and simultaneously found that girls had redeeming qualities after all and that food is even more fascinating.