& pieces of paper roll off the tongue

19Oct09

blah blah blahSo. Revisiting the archives. Blah blah. I thought this was the piece of paper that said & pieces of paper roll off the tongue. But it’s not.

This is a photo of my mother’s family place in The Sounds, taken years ago. And a glued in rubber band and some cut out words. It can’t have been long after I’d discovered found poetry.  Actually, 1996. I’d found it a few years earlier, but obviously the influence lingered.

Tonight we had supermarket seafood chowder and freezer-burnt table rolls (which I pretended were croutons, although they kept falling apart on me). When I have not much to say I have a tendency to talk about food. And sometimes I just flick idly through recipe books just to look at the pictures. What does that mean? Nothing, probably.

We kept the French doors open until a minute ago. 8.13pm – a new record. This means that summer is somewhere close by, even if only with its one-step-forward, two-steps-back approach.

Actually, speaking of food, and paper, and tongues. Here is my mother’s (aka Jillyfran) recipe for stuffing and apple crumble. I rang her up for it this evening, and doodled as we chatted (not sure why I drew leaves, and something resembling a conch shell, but there you go). Simon often brings to my attention how often I talk to my mother on the phone. Quite a lot, I know. But I am sure, even so, that I will never get all her recipes out of her.

Jillyfran's apple crumble & stuffing

It’s kinda like an oral history in action, family recipes, recorded in fits and starts, translated into occasional magic. Food folklore. Bits of paper that grow sticky with flour and wine, held together with browning bits of sellotape. Sometimes the pages stick together and parts of the recipe tear away or get obscured by stains. You can tell those are the best recipes of all.

I like inheriting other people’s old handwritten recipes. There is something so intimate about them, especially if the person is no longer around. My mother has all Granny’s old recipes. It took me a long time to take to cooking. Mum always tried to cultivate sous chefs out of her children but it didn’t work. It never appealed to me much. It just seemed like another place to be bossed around and to have to clean up afterwards.

But I remember all Granny’s handwritten recipes, after she was gone, and I remember thinking they were beautiful and intruiging. Like sifting through someone’s notebooks, or boxes of trinkets and getting an overwhelming sense of the person. I can close my eyes and picture her handwriting now. Even though I never knew her for long. She taught me how to tie my shoelaces by making bunny ears. But she died when I was seven.

I should probably go and make apple crumble now.

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