Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Quiet kitchen

Coleslaw was quite a big part of my upbringing. Admittedly though, it wasn’t until I became a little more mature, that I began to really appreciate the raw shredded cabbage and onion combo that my mum had been producing throughout my childhood.

In fact, I remember many occasions where I would reject much of her laboured over home-cooking, and instead demand a frozen pizza and a tin of processed peas.

Children can be a bit blind to culinary efforts, and I now know only too well what a thankless task it is cooking for them. There are few things more annoying than putting your heart and soul into a meal only to have your children announce they don’t like it before they’ve even reached the kitchen.

Although I loved my mum’s pizzas, and her fry-ups, and her roasts (her ‘white gravy’ was famous), I didn’t fully appreciate at the time what an inventive, and superb cook she was. I reckon these days, I would even relish her lentil stew and dumplings, which, as a child I used to cram unchewed into my mouth and then spit into the toilet.

Among many other things, like gardening, painting, housework, walking unaided, and shopping, my mum really misses cooking. She now completely relies on others for her every meal - and there are a lot of kind people around - but I’m sure nothing beats being able to do her own cooking.

Having eaten some shop-bought coleslaw recently, my mum remembered the coleslaw that she used to make. So I offered to make her some. And having never made it before, I thought how hard can it be?

Very hard, it turns out! I have just delivered my third attempt and I’m waiting anxiously for the verdict. She takes it all with good grace and humour, but I know that my inability to be inventive with nuts and courgettes, frustrates the hell out of her.
My own children will never experience the joy of being cooked for by my mum, their granny – to sit at her table in her steamy lively happy kitchen and be served up a ‘random seafood pasta thing with egg, mozzarella and tomatoes in a glass bowl’ that my husband remembers with great fondness.

They do, however, get to sit on her lap and cuddle her, and talk to her, and make her laugh, and bring her immense joy, and for that I am very grateful.


Jen Walshaw said...

This really resonated with me. My mum was an excellent, inventive cook that magicked up wonderful meals from whatever ingredients she had (we had an allotment).

She died nearly four years ago, but my boys favorite food is still her chicken soupy strew that thankfully she showed me how to make.

nappy valley girl said...

Lovely. Make sure your girls hug your mum a lot. I wish I had asked my mum for more of her recipes. She died when I was 25 and I've been trying to recreate her spicy bacon stew every since, without success.

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