My mother and I didn’t agree about much but, the one thing that was never a source of contention was her cooking – she was a genius. I have never tasted better and she remains the culinary benchmark. There was nothing flash about her repertoire, it was plain English cuisine – roasts, Yorkshire puds, Cornish pasties, liver and bacon, bread and butter pudding, treacle tart and lemon meringue pie to die for – to name but a few. She dismissed all “foreign food” which loosely translates as anything containing garlic.
Her pièce de résistance was chocolate cream biscuits. Time consuming and fiddly to make, they were a rare treat, consumed with dog-like enthusiasm by my sister and me as soon as they emerged from the oven. Garrison Keillor’s aunt Myrna and her Chocolate Angel Food Cake was surely nothing by comparison. For years we tried to extract a recipe but my mum, like all good cooks, worked intuitively in the kitchen. Nothing was ever written down because, pressed to define precise quantities and ingredients, she would probably struggle.
And then last week, I was hovering around the reduced cakes and pastries counter in Waitrose and there I spotted an individual, over-sized,store-baked, broken bourbon biscuit. I sneaked it into the trolley, away from the prying eyes of my trainer/dietitian. When I eventually bit into this large confection, I could not believe it. In more than fifty years, it is the closest approximation to the original chocolate cream biscuit I have ever found. My immediate thought was ‘I must ring my sister and tell her – go buy some immediately!’
In an overwhelming moment, I remembered. The good news had come too late.
Oh, I’m so sorry, Robin! Maybe wherever they are, in an afterlife together, your Mum and sister can share a moment.
I struggle to believe in such things but there is comfort in thinking it might be possible. I will be in trouble again if/when I get to meet up with my mum 😉
It’s difficult to find the right words that convey that I enjoyed your post but feel your sorrow in just a small way, not having experienced a sibling dying. It’s even more poignant as my husband is going through his father’s things from WWII, during which he landed at Omaha Beach on D-day and was later in the Pacific. Reading things he wrote and letters from his mother, etc. is almost beyond words.
Those letters must be treasures, Janet – I have so much stuff from my maternal grandfather’s Great War experience, it is like I can still reach him.
Thank you for your kind thoughts. My sister and I lived nearly 300 miles apart and didn’t see each other as often as we should. We spoke regularly on the phone. Under such circumstances, it is possible to imagine her still there.
Oh, my. The things from WWI are indeed treasures! It would be fascinating to see them. Although you and your sister were far apart in distance, it sounds like in all other ways you were close. That’s a blessing, because now that she’s gone, you don’t have to regret that you didn’t talk with her enough, which seems to be the case all too often. Of course I’m sure it seems like it wasn’t enough, but you understand what I’m saying.
Beautiful, but heartbreaking words and images. It’s funny how “small” things can resurrect grief.
Thanks Julie, indeed it is. Because we lived so far apart (Pat in Buckinghamshire, me in Northumberland), it is very easy to imagine her still there. Small things suddenly remind me that she isn’t. Desperately sad but also unreal.
…very moving story…chocolate, memory and absent…..thank you, Robin…
And thank you, Kari, for your kind words