Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Kitchen Memories

For me, some of the best, most enduring memories, are of kitchens. Not of the kitchens themselves - I couldn't tell you what colour the wallpaper, or tiles, or work-tops were -but of the things that took place there. The sounds, the smells, the equipment. The anticipation of memories yet to be made, and tastes yet to be savoured.

My mum recently gave me a box of kitchen things that belonged to my nannie. Each thing transports me back to childhood. There's the deep, enamel coated pie dish, in which she made her meat and potato pie. There are the small, unremarkable, tupperware boxes she would freeze portions of mince in. The sight of an old, much yellowed Parish Cookbook, transported me back in an instant. She pulled out the foldaway table in the kitchen. I sat, and busily greased the tin for the sultana and cherry cake, and crushed cornflakes for the melting moments (or cornflake biscuits as we always called them). There is the special sieve, with the handle that you press to dust crisp mince pies with icing sugar, like the heavy frost that settles on the brown roofs. Each simple, much used object was a catalyst for a string of precious memories. Of that kitchen, and cooking and visiting with her, but also of my childhood home, and being with my mother in the kitchen. Watching her put carrot and turnip in the food processor for soup, running out and peeking round the door, because I was terrified of the Pressure Cooker. My own, child-fierce concentration as I pressed the tines of the fork along the edge of the apple pie, and rolled and cut rounds of left over pastry for jam tarts.  

I love food, and cooking, and baking. For me, there's a sixth Love Language, ' Seeing your family enjoy their dinner.' Making food for people I love, and seeing them enjoy it, is for me, the most satisfying feeling. It is the centre of my role as wife and mother. The oven is the warm heart from which every other nurturing, home making instinct spreads and radiates through the house.

And I wonder, in turn, what memories my children will take from our kitchen. What bowls they will remember holding sweet mixtures that they stirred and dipped their fingers into?What spoons and beaters they will remember licking? If certain tins, and oven dishes will make them think of certain meals, the way that enamel dish makes me think of meat and potato pie? What smells and tastes will be evocative to them as they grow older? 

Will the kitchen, and what was used there, and what was made there, be at the heart of joy, and love, and family, and memory for them, as it was for me? 

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