Memories of family favourites.
I have been happily and enthusiastically creating new dishes, revamping old favourites and focusing on building my business based around excellent local produce combined with a relaxed and fun food experience. In that process, sometimes I forget to go back to the meals which invoke good memories for me. Memories of the family dishes which my mother used to make. Dishes which invoke memories of a childhood spent with rowdy siblings, crazy pets and a hectic schedule around my parents medical practice. My parents were emigrants in the late 50’s – ‘ten pound Poms’. My mother brought with her the cooking ideas which she knew, so we grew up on a diet of traditional English dishes. Fruit crumbles, Apple Charlotte, lamb and beef roasts, Irish stew and scrambled eggs,and which for some reason were called ‘butter egg’.
Tonight, when I was trying to decide what to do with a kilo of beef mince, my mind was going along it’s usual path of burgers, special bolognese etc etc… I suddenly remembered a favourite of our family, which I used to make for our sons when they were younger. Scotch Eggs. And when I got to thinking about making them, it reminded of a very special moment in my life. In making them, I had never solved the problem of how to make the surrounding mince stick to the egg when I was frying or baking them. It frustrated me, but it was one of those things that no one seemed to bothered about as long as they tasted great.
However, in visiting my mother’s brother in the UK about 4 years ago, he showed me a handwritten recipe book written. He told me it was written by his mother, my grandmother. She carefully wrote it, a bit at a time, in a Singapore prisoner of war camp in the Second World War. It was filled with perfect, tiny writing. It had been somehow brought out of the camp after she died. Until that moment I didn’t even know it existed. But apparently, it had been stored in the British Museum until my Uncle Ian retrieved it. It was so special sitting on the floor of his apartment, reading all the notes she had recorded. This is a significant moment which has added a wealth to my memories of that trip home.
As I sat and read it, I felt a huge connection with a grandmother I had never met. The recipes she had written were dishes I was playing around with now – so many decades later! As I worked my way through, I came to the recipe for Scotch Eggs. In her beautiful handwriting, she finally gave me the answer I had been wanting. Now I know you are all thinking why didn’t I google it? Yes, I could have, but sometimes we need to hear it from a different source. My connection with a grandmother I could never meet, suddenly spanned nearly 70 years.
That’s something you can never ‘google’.