Sunday, September 30, 2007

You're Never Alone With A Head Full Of Relatives....

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 Yorkshire cotton mills. Life was hard, and food was not for throwing away, even if it was growing its own life forms. She married young and had children straight away, family planning in those days consisting mostly of crossing fingers – and legs – and slapping the husband hard when he came home from the pub. She had an amazing capacity for conjuring up a family meal out of bugger all, and although it was comprised mostly of flour, lard, water and those bits of the animal that the posh folk wouldn’t eat, I remember her as a wonderful cook. I developed a fondness for stodgy dumplings and neck end of lamb as a small child, although I would caffle at the sheeps’ brains, pigs’ trotters and tripe that she would serve up for my granddad.

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 Italy.

“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.


anticant said...

I remember that during the Lancaster House negotiations on Zimbabwean independence, Lord Carrington amusingly pointed out that 'Mugabe' was 'Eeh Bah Gum' backwards! He's not much of a joke these days, though.

I'd love a bowl of your fragrant mushroom soup, please, Ms M.

Oh - as a child I used to enjoy tripe 'n trotters.

trousers said...

Ah yes, bread and lard, tongue, tripe....not that I could ever stomach more than one taste of tripe, ever - though I remember these things being in the house as a child.

These voices in your head are good ones to have (overall), I'd say.

Ms Melancholy said...

Hi anticant, you are most welcome to visit for a bowl of mushroom soup, and I am hoping that I will soon be living in the heart of the Dales so you will also have a lovely view from the window. Should you insist on a plate of tripe 'n' trotters though, I would have to ask you to leave immediately.

My local market sells pigs' ears, which apparently dogs quite enjoy gnawing on. I have it on good authority that after a few minutes of decent chewing, the ears resume their former floppy quality and are quite disturbing to look at. Would you like one of those too???

Ms Melancholy said...

Hi trousers, you snuck in there! I did used to enjoy bread and dripping as a child, actually. And tongue is not quite as repulsive as it sounds. Tripe, I agree, is totally vile. Isn't there a restaurant in that there London village specialising in the bits of meat that our grandparents used to eat?

Misssy M said...

My gran and papa were brought up on something called "Potted Heid". It was made from cows brains and other offal and is still sold in butchers. In fact my gran (who died this year) had it in her fridge at all times. You would pread it on toast and bread like a poor man's pate.

Tripe sounds yummy compared to that.

Ms Melancholy said...

Hey Misssy M, in Yorkshire we eat 'potted meat' which is, as you say, a poor man's pate but I never imagined it was made from all those left over bits.....still, waste not want not, eh? Potted meat and crisp sandwiches was a Saturday treat. Mmmmm, lovely!

sheepish said...

We still have Turkey dripping toast every Christmas and don't care about the effect on our cholesterol levels. It's only once a year and a little of what you fancy does you good. Having reared and had slaughtered our own lambs and pigs I cook just about everything including ------ no I won't write that!!!!!
Loved the comment about Mugabe.

That's so pants said...

Hi Ms M

Fabulous story and great recipe. I actually think mushrooms are tastier if they're a bit on the old side.



Caroline said...

Made me giggle, yet still I find myself longing for homemade soup and crusty bread.
Can I come to your house for me tea?

Böbø said...

I'm wondering if you're approaching this from the wrong end ... instead of trying to get the Parent voices out of your head, just let your lad read what you've done for his meal preparation ... he may bring up his own health issues [OMG my own mother is trying to poison me with slimey mushroom soup!]

PS: You can't go wrong with lentil soup - they never get slimey

But Why? said...

Scrag end of lamb? Bits of animals posh people wouldn't eat?

I can only assume that either our grandmothers are the same person, or that Yorkshire womenfolk had a fondness for these things. I've never seen a finer meal than the lanb stew my gran made from scrag.

Mind you, she was cunning with tripe. I believe all the young gentlemen my mother took home had to pass the test of manners that was being presented with a steaming dinner of tripe and onions to polish off before being given the seal of approval.

They were canny back then...

livesbythewoods said...

Mr WithaY's dad was telling us about being served a dish of paella whilst on holiday in Ibiza (many years ago) which had an entire cock's head in it.

He said it like that was a good thing.

rivergirlie said...

you should write a whole book of recipes in that style. it makes the usual type seem very dull by comparison. x

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היפנוזה יכולה לשמש למגוון מטרוןת. החל מטיפול בהפרעות אכילה ועד חרדה. הטיפול בהיפנוזה אינ קסם אלא טיפול לכל דבר ויש להתייחס אליו בהתאם

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