Saturday, April 22, 2006

Food Memory

My new Saturday morning ritual, reading food blogs for information, inspiration, and impetus. When I hit on Cream Puffs in Venice I saw the most delicious item that made me start salivating. Having had only my one cup of Peets to fortify me, I realized I was famished, and the Ali-Baba, unfairly featured at the top of the blog prior to any words, was, on an empty stomach, too much to bear. I had to head for the kitchen. The Ali-Baba was too complicated to make quickly, but I had this faint nagging in the back of my head, something completely unrelated, but waiting for me to remember. And as I entered the kitchen, it came forth.

When I was a child (from the ages of 6-12), I was dropped off every weekday morning at my grandparents, so my parents could get to work on time. She was my before- and after-school care provider, and I couldn’t have asked for a better, or more loving, person. She walked me to and from school and for most of those six years, doing her grocery shopping on her way home. She played with me in the summertime, read me stories, took me to the park and the library, taught me how to cook. But one of my favorite memories from that early time with her is the early morning English pancakes.

My nana came from England at the age of 3. She married my papa, who came from Scotland at the age of 17. So most of her cooking was British in style, finnan haddie, mince and mashed potatoes, pot roast, custards. I usually had already consumed breakfast by the time I got to her house, but once in a while she would make these simple and delicious treats.

Although I didn’t know it for many years to come, English pancakes are nothing more than a simple crepe batter. She would whisk up flour, milk, and eggs and fry the delicate thin rounds in her old cast iron skillet. She would slather them in butter, sprinkle sugar on them, and roll it all up for me to eat. I can remember those cold dark mornings, sitting at the little table in her trailer, right across from the stove, watching her with anticipation. They are good memories, food memories.

So this morning I recreated that in my own kitchen. There were no kids (or grandkids) around to watch. But I pulled out The Best Recipes in the World by Mark Bittman and found a basic crepe recipe and whipped up a batch in 30 minutes. Then I sat down with the requisite cup of tea, and gorged on three, full of butter and sugar. And my nana, in the form of an angel tattooed on my shoulder the week she died, watched as I ate. I know I was pleased, and I hope she would be, too.

3 comments:

Ivonne said...

Mrs. B,

I have no doubt that your Nana was there watching you enjoy the food she once made for you.

You have articulated it so well. The best food memories are the ones that are linked to those we love and the time that we spent with them.

What a lovely post! And what a lovely way to spend a Saturday morning!

Mrs. B said...

Thanks Ivonne. It was a happy trip down memory lane, only marred by the fact that I could not have one of your Ali-Babas!

Tea said...

How sweet, Mrs. B! I know how much you cared for your Nana, but it was a delight to read the details. How lucky for the two of you to get to spend that time together. And I am sure she was thrilled to be passing along the traditions. Now about those grandkids of your own...hey, don't look at me! Jennifer's the better bet these days:-)