Food can evoke so many very special memories, so this Mothering Sunday we have taken some time to talk to Wendy, Ian Mitchell and Ian Thomas about the meals they remember from their childhood, and especially the food their Mothers use to cook, which are still their favourite dishes.
Wendy – Life around the Formica table
My underlying memory of my mum is of the kitchen. The Formica table, a pinny and the dreaded getting caught for the washing or drying up! Along with the many baking delights – coconut pyramids, bread pudding and the best roast ever being my favourites – and I really mean that my Mum’s roast potatoes were unbeatable! Everything was centred around the kitchen and my Mum. I remember well the battered roasting tin, (from army days), where roasts and cottage pies were famously dished up from. My mum never ever put leftovers into the fridge, they always went back to sit in the cold oven over night – we all seemed to have survived!
Another memory is of ‘the mug’ (broken handle of course) where the fat from roast dinners etc was poured into, ready for the next use. It always sat at the right of the fridge, bottom shelf, to be scooped out with the bone handled knife, that we all loved for buttering bread, but always a broken handle – yet over the years we all coveted that knife, it was first one used and we never thought of throwing it out.
When my parents passed and we emptied the house, the things that we coveted was the roasting tin and the broken knife. My nieces fought over a pair of steps that all the kids, as little ones, sat on the step with the top step being the table. That was the essence of their Nan. It just shows how memories are not about the brightest blingiest expensive things but those that are close to your heart and evoke such memories. Memories of my mum are all linked to the kitchen and life around that Formica table. Experiences and food are the making of the best memories
Ian Mitchell – Lambs liver, onion gravy, crispy bacon and mash
My Mother was a good cook. Her parents had built a hotel in Wales in 1936 and for many years she worked in the hotel, and was the chef during the war. I didn’t spend a lot of time at home with my parents as I was at boarding school from the age of 11 and the holidays were spent at the hotel. My Mother left the hotel when she married, but as she had a share in the hotel, so we still went there on our holidays.
My memories of food when I was young are too long ago to remember well. I do have diaries which list all the meals I had at school which I could publish! Two meals I do remember well are from when I lived for a few years in Paris, at the start of the 70s. I used to come home when I could, and my Mother always wanted to spoil me, asking if I would like a nice steak. Always my answer was that I really wanted lambs liver, onion gravy, crispy bacon and mash. Still love it and she cooked it so well. It had been a staple diet during the war in the hotel. The other was baked egg custard, another war-time favourite. If I find these on the menu when I go out, I always choose them, and I still enjoy them as much as I did 50 years ago, along with the great memories of my Mother.
Ian Thomas – Leftover bread and butter-pudding before our Sunday lunch
The fondest memories of my childhood always have food attached, with Mother’s Day this weekend I thought it was appropriate to share and celebrate.
When I was very young and my parents split up, my Mother’s approach to “the rules” changed, the two of us would eat classic mid-1970’s leftover bread and butter-pudding before our Sunday lunch! For a child, or adult, what’s not to like!
Later in the 1980’s when she was running the family hotel, as a hungry teenager, my payment for housekeeping and hoovering duties, was being allowed to raid the hotel fridges for breakfast leftovers – you just can’t beat a bacon and egg sandwich!
My two daughters recently told me their food memory from my Mom, when staying overnight at her house. They would be given multiple breakfasts – sometimes up to 4! First one would be glass of milk, then toast and marmalade, then fruit (these would all be in Nan’s bed!), then bacon and eggs. No wonder they loved sleepovers at Nan’s!
One thing for sure, my wife Nia and I always punctuate every celebration with food, and of course, we make sure we celebrate everything and anything, especially this last year. Right, what’s for dinner!