I wish you could have met my grannies. They were amazing women. Both could talk the hind leg off a donkey. Both laughed like drains, (Granny Sloan’s was especially filthy – partly because of the ciggies, but mainly I suspect, because of a lifetime spent gathering Juicy Secrets).
Perhaps it’s also a generational thing. They were raised at a time when there was plenty of love, but not a lot else. Hardship made them strong, but never hard – candied steel that bent but didn’t break.
Granny Black was my mum’s mum. (Apparently if you want to find your ‘stage’ name, you pair your mother’s maiden name with the name of your first pet. This would make me ‘Blackie Black’ – which is pretty awesome. Sorry – I’ve got the cold and that’s the Lemsip talking).
Anyway. Where was I? Oh yes, Granny Black. One of the most generous, joyful people I’ve ever met. But in the kitchen… a deadly combination of frugality and imagination. Nothing in Granny’s kitchen went to waste. From the tea-bags squeezed for every inch of treacly nectar, to the (black) bananas she’d foist on me after school. (‘It’s not bad Emma, just really, really ripe’). This meant that her cooking was often full of surprises. Most of the time, it worked. But you’d never know what was in the mix.
Looking back at the last week, I feel the way I did staring into Granny’s hotpot. There’s been surprises. Test results that stick in the throat. Stringy, indigestible tasks. Spoonfuls of sadness that leave a slightly bitter taste. Banana masquerading as potato.
But you know, there’s also been some really tasty morsels. Meaty conversations, full of unexpected richness. Sweet nuggets of encouragement. Unexpected combinations that challenged my taste-buds, but nourished me too.
Looking at the ingredients, I couldn’t have seen the final dish working – or me eating it. And as I think about the week ahead, I’m slightly apprehensive about what’s going in the pot. But as with Granny’s cooking, I know it’ll be okay. I know I can trust the chef.