Last night I made rice pudding. I didn’t make it for my children, I made it for me. I made it because it was cold outside. I made it because it remind me of being a child with my maternal grandmother. I made it because I love the vanilla fused custard and hint of lemon from the rind that I grated through the mixture.
Rice pudding and Arpège reminds me of maternal grandmother. Roasting lamb and the slight whiff of gas from the stove reminds me of my paternal grandmother.
Sometimes I like to channel my grandmother’s into my house. Usually it’s around 6.30pm. It’s getting dark. It’s raining outside. There is something cooking. Always something cooking. It’s peaceful, the sound of the nightly news plays on the television.
These are the memories that stayed with me more than anything else. I can recall so much of my grandmothers, but the instant memory is set to the time I would visit them most.
My sister was in hospital last year, and when I went to visit her, her lunch had arrived. She had ordered a salad. My sister lifted the lid and we both looked down. It was the most exquisite homage to my grandmother. Grated carrot, some tinned beetroot, ham rolled into fancy shapes, cheese cubes, shredded lettuce, and tomatoes shaped like quarter moons. All on their own little sections of the plate.
‘Nanny made it,’ we both said and then laughed hysterically. Nanny loved an orderly salad.
She also loved an afternoon tea sandwich for when we visited. Cheese and gherkin spread was a fave. A butterfly cake was always afterwards with a cup of tea.
My maternal grandmother could make a scone in about twenty seconds flat, and these suckers were the greatest scone you ever had. I have yet to see anyone make one as good as her. Raisin scones, cheese scones, plain scones. All hail the Scone Queen.
I have eaten at many fine restaurants, and I have made some amazing meals. Yet there is nothing like the memories of food from your childhood that stirs you so deeply.
As I ate my rice pudding in front of the nightly news, I felt the same comfort that I did when I was a child staying at my grandmother’s. Drawing on old paper pads, using her biscuit tin of coloured pencils, then a cup and saucer of cocoa, then sleeping in flannel sheets, and waking up to a boiled egg with a face painted on it in a fancy egg cup.
This is comfort. So rice pudding for everyone!