Tuesday, 8 March 2011

A Recipe for Life

Picture this, a long, busy, messy breakfast table, covered with news papers, glasses of juice, milk; a child to each seat, loudly chattering, squabbling, giggling, bodies, arms across the table, conversation bouncing down, along and through others...
But in a one perfect moment, all eyes raise, mouths gape open, heads tilt back and a resonant silence falls thickly over this band of excitable, screeching chimps!  Above our heads is a platter, piled high with soft, golden, fluffed discs.  Scotch pancakes...

This was my very first experience of a night away from home. It was a house inhabited and ruled by what seemed a mob of much older, therefore strange, indifferent brothers and sisters, who because of their very age, carried the faint scent of danger about them.  I was awe struck and a little afraid and I can't remember feeling comfortable or anything less than flighty that whole weekend.  But that memory of the appearance and the eating of those pancakes stays with me always.  
To me it seemed such a luxurious but utterly homey thing to eat for breakfast.  The perfect, thickly fluffy, biscuit sized circles, ready for your unique creation.  Picking carefully a favourite and totally individualistic topping.  Strawberries, zig zags of drizzled honey, chocolate spread, apricot jam, a thick curl of pale butter.  It spoke to me of family ritual, rhythmic life, traditions.  I knew in that instance, with all the certain wisdom of my 12 years, that this was something I would serve at my own busy, noisy, breakfast table, when that time should come in the dim and impossibly distant future.
I am fascinated by traditions.  I am unashamedly nosey and delighted by other's family quirks and habits...
....bacon butties before a Saturday football match, each always on one slice of white, folded in half, with only brown sauce, the bacon in a single layer; a mum's perfect, uncomparable Christmas roast potato, fried in a huge roasting tin on top of the stove; the same glass for morning milk, and only for this morning milk, chunkily embossed, in the thick, green, milk bottle glass with a cow; tea and toast before going up to bed; Sunday lunch made by Dad, every Sunday, even after leaving home, with boiled, roast and mashed potato; a passed down painting, rich in made up stories; stir up Sundays; a very early morning cup of tea, brought to a wife in bed, all the years of marriage; picnics in gravel pits; rolling eggs down a hillside; ten minutes, snuggled in bed, with each baby, as they fall asleep listening to their sleepy, meanderings, their thoughts, days events, worries or dreams...
These are the happenings in our daily lives that make us feel truly at home.  And this does not have to mean the same four walls.  Houses come and go, but the folk who inhabit them, their familiar habits, carefully nurtured and repeated traditions, the care that goes into these important little rituals, this is 'home'....the sense of security, of comfort, of certainty, of love.  
The ones I relish, savour and soak in, are the those that have been carried out by generations.   There is an unshake-ability in the predictability that come rain or shine, in good health and in poor, up or down... there will be pancakes for Sunday breakfast...mum did, her mum did and so will you.  The world will keep on turning.
Recipes, meals, the food we feed our families...in each lies this same tiny ritual, a blessing, a way of saying 'I love you'.  I like to think, each time I make Master B his favourite chocolate cake, or MissB her 'numberjacks' (flapjacks to me and you) or relent and make bacon butties in half a slice of white for MrB, that what I am actually doing is making and creating 'home' for each of them.



x




6 comments:

::cupcakesandbiscuits:: said...

Snap Mrs B!!
Don't you just love pancake day? Every single year another chance to jump into tradition. Today my biscuits wanted breakfast pancakes instead of pudding (the norm for if the shrove falls on a school day)and it is true what you say. I said 'I love you' and 'home' this morn fitting freshly made pancakes in before 8.30am!
Growing up my Dad used to switch between crepes and drop Scotch pancakes depending on his mood. He'd always wrap up a banana with his crepe and show off his flipping skills. For after school treats we'd have thick scotch ones with butter or jam or both.
*sigh* memories.
So much from a wee pancake.
xx

A Thrifty Mrs said...

This is going to be on the first page of your book, no? You HAVE to write a book.

I grew up in Ireland as Catholic. Shrove Tuesday was a day of filth and stuffing ourselves.
Breakfast of ST would be drop scones with white pudding and homemade brown sauce and supper would be huge, great big pancakes that we'd try and get grandma to make into silly shapes in her stupid square pan. Once she managed a Mickey Mouse shape, cool huh?
My brothers would have jam (what is THAT about?) with theirs and always lemon for me. Always.

Menopausal musing said...

We had drop scones on an almost daily basis when growing up. (Always after teatime meal instead of cake). Just after Christmas, my mum would stir a spoonful or two of mincemeat into the mixture............ I can almost taste them as I write..........

Alexandra Mason said...

What a wonderful post! xx

Emma said...

You have a lovely way with words Mrs B! x

Victoria said...

You certainly know how to tell a story, Mrs B. Fabulous

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