You might think after umpteen years of investigating my internal world, I would be adept at managing the ancestral voices in my head. You would be wrong.
Rooting through the fridge today, I came across a paper bag of slimy mushrooms, the unsuspecting victims of my current domestic lethargy. I was just about to put them in the compost pile when I heard my long-deceased grandma’s voice in my head.
“Eeh bah gum!” she said. “Dost tha ‘ave money to burn?” (She really, really did used to say “eeh bah gum!”, arms thrust under her ample bosom and mouth set firmly, waiting for a suitable reply.)
I don’t have money to burn, nor do I have a mint in the garage or a money tree in the garden.
Chop onion and garlic very finely and sweat in a generous knob of butter.
My son is very fond of home made mushroom soup. I took him to a friend’s for lunch when he was three. “Mushroom soup? “ she asked.
“Mmmm, my favourite” he replied.
She placed a bowl in front of him and he took a taste.
“Is this from a can?” he asked innocently, “because mummy makes her own, and I really only like it home-made.”
“You,” she responded to me, accusingly, “are making a rod for your own back.”
I fear she was right.
Sort through bag of mushrooms, composting the worst and peeling and finely chopping the rest. 20 minutes. Pour large glass of gin and tonic.
My grandma was born in 1912, leaving school at the age of 14 to work in the
Sweat mushrooms for as long as it takes to get rid of the slime. About another 20 minutes. Pour another large glass of gin and tonic.
The Mother has the same skill, and would produce daily meals for our family of seven from a bag of flour, a block of lard, a couple of bendy carrots and whatever the butcher was throwing out. The Mother retains her fondness for lard, and will buy some in especially when Sister #2 visits from
“I’ve bought you some lard!” she announces, the minute my sister arrives on her annual visit.
“Fabulous” responds Sister, “because Italian extra virgin olive oil really is so disappointing when you have been brought up on beef dripping.”
Stir in a suitable amount of flour, and cook it out for at least 3 minutes, stirring continuously.
The Sister leaves after a month, half a stone heavier and about to birth a 9lb meat and potato pie.
Add enough vegetable stock until desired consistency is achieved. Thicken slowly…remember just in time that under no circumstance must it boil. Approximately 3 minutes.
I have successfully abandoned my maternal line’s attachment to carbohydrates and cheap cuts of meat. I still can’t throw food away though.
Add some black pepper, a handful of finely chopped flat leaf parsley and a dash of single cream. Ready to serve.
So I appear to have spent the best part of an hour making a single bowl of mushroom soup. One, measly, single bowl of soup. Granted, I have simultaneously marinated a chicken in garlic, lemon, coriander and chilli and prepared some vegetables for roasting, but nonetheless the voices in my head have convinced me that an hour’s worth of soup-making is morally superior to composting a bag of slimy mushrooms.
If someone could persuade me that feeding my son slimy mushrooms is damaging to his health, I would be most grateful.