What did you have on your Nana’s table. I read a great piece recently that took me around the work to some far flung Nana’s houses and showed me what they served to eat and coincidentally my Mum and I had been chatting earlier in the day about one of her Mother’s specialities. It made me nostalgic.
My Dad’s Mum was a terrible cook, hence why he learnt to make Welsh Rarebit and many other suppers at an early age. i remember lumpy mash and burnt sausages, but mainly I remember fish and chips with loads of salt and vinegar. She’d take us to McDonalds, when it was still a novelty and Bonds department store for a scone and a strawberry flavoured milk, which I thought was such a grown up thing to do.
On the other hand my other Nana could really cook. I found some old recipes written in her spidery hand, Dundee cake, Christmas Pudding. 8oz of this, a handful of that.
All lunches had gravy and vegetable, none of which, I imagine were ever bought, they all came from the huge vegetable garden my Grandad tended. I ate meat pies at my Nana’s, melt in the mouth minced beef, no chewy gristle to be found, with just the right amount of gravy and the most perfect pastry. When I first started to cook I wanted to make ‘her’ pastry. I didn’t know how she got it so ‘short’ and crumbly and yet never ever dry, but I knew I wanted to work it out.
Puddings were trifle or stewed fruit and custard. Apple or rhubarb with a large glass jar of soft, dark brown sugar on the table. My Grandad would eat the lumps from the sugar and wink at us. I thought it was the most scandalous thing ever. I would plonk too much sugar in the middle of my fruit and it would slowly melt from the warmth, into a pool of treacly sweetness, that I would swirl into my fruit.
My favourite dish that made it to Nana’s table was her Lemon Tart. At the time I thought of it as Lemon Meringue Pie, without the meringue, but really it was Tarte Au Citron, before any of us knew that such a thing existed. The crumbly, buttery pastry again, but this time filled with a smooth lemon mixture. So tart it made your tongue tingle. I can taste it still, but have yet been able to recreate it.
I’ve recently been trying to perfect Lemon tart and as yet, it eludes me. A soggy base, or cooked to long or not lemony enough. I’ll get there eventually, but I really wish she’d written this one down.
So, how about you. What was on your Nana’s table. Was it Arctic Roll or like me, something that you’ve been trying to recreate for years?