My earliest memories are about food. Many of them take place in my granny’s kitchen. She had a big, pale yellow bake-lite fridge, all rounded edges, it’s surface warm to the touch, cosy and homely, not like the sleek, metal fridges of today. Behind the door old fashioned treats awaited: I remember sneaking to the fridge and cutting hunks off when I thought my gran wasn’t looking – the meat firm, different shades of pale and dark pink, but never blue, so unlike the watery blue factory produced ham that is found so often nowadays. I remember the visit to the butchers, the slice of sausage he’d give us, and yearning for paprika crisps. And then white, plaited Sunday bread spread with sweet, creamy butter and dripping dark, pine-forest honey. The big bowl of milky coffee into which my grand-dad dunked bread and cheese, and the surprisingly delicious taste of slightly melted Gruyere retrieved from its depths. Veal served with a cream sauce and fresh green beans from the garden, boiled for only a minute or two and then, still bright green, sauteed in butter with a little chopped onion, fresh strawberries, meringues and whipped cream. Fresh sour redcurrants, and the taste and pink flesh of a Berner Rosen apple, picked straight from the tree. And what would childhood be without cadbury’s creme eggs, Terry’s chocolate oranges, dairy milk chocolate, ambrosia rice pudding and quality street? Or Christmas without mince pies with dream topping, strange, fluffy and so utterly, utterly fake despite this my memory tells me that is was delicious. Cream teas, roly-poly pudding, spotted dick, steak and kidney pudding and wonderful cornish pasties with flaky pastry, chunks of beef and veggies and eaten warm out of the paper bag. So comforting and filling specially in the freezing Northern winters. Bread fresh from the AGA and lovely cheddar and pickle sandwiches and a Yorkie and cheese and onion crisps, brown bag lunch when the sports team was off to compete with another school. And then there is the memory of the other stuff, the weird plain wrongness of spaghetti on toast, questionable school dinners with spam, mushy peas and yellow waxy potatoes – a dish made edible by mashing the peas and the potatoes wand rolling them in the spam, gloopy pink semolina and tapioca pearls. And then the memory of running in the playground, chasing white poplar cotton fluff and discovering big, hairy poplar moths.
Food opens the door to other childhood memories of people and places, my grandmother fussing over me in a patterned house dress, the kitchen table with its peeling painted blue top. Getting the cutlery out of the cutlery drawer, the old lady who used to come and visit Granny, the time I laid carpet in Granny’s loo, inexpertly cutting out a hole for the toilet. I cannot remember the names of girls I went to school with, I cannot remember the names of places I traveled through, I can however remember that perfect meal, the taste, the texture and the company I ate it in. My desire to experiment and experience has grown stronger through the years; and food is still how I best remember. This blog is an attempt to capture some of these memories and recipes.