Firstly a collaboration this Friday night coming (31st May) with Rachelle Blondel, the seamstress and crafter who was behind the book Granny Chic (with Dottie Angel) and the blog Ted and Agnes. I’ve visited her a couple of times up on the Yorkshire Dales, once, to visit her secret tearoom The Secret Teacup. She makes the best jammie dodgers I’ve ever eaten. I hope she will make them again for this Friday!
So to celebrate her unique style, we are having a Granny Chic high tea, summer supper, in the evening, after work. Actual nan and grandads get a discount of £5! We want people to bring their craft projects with them: be it sewing, or knitting, crochet, embroidery, whatever you are working on.
There will be a groaning table including:
The quiche and potato salad are a testament to my English nan who was an abysmal cook. My mother and I being non-meat eaters, my nan grasped the introduction of ready-made quiches to the British supermarket with relief; finally she had something to feed us. She pickled produce from her garden every year but it was badly done, with poor ingredients. Nanny Stewart exemplified that make do and mend training from before and during the wars, but poverty and rationing ruined her taste buds.
The potato salad was made with salad cream not mayonnaise or sour cream. The butter leaf lettuce salad would have me peering at each leaf for slugs. ‘Sandwich spread’, that marvellously generic title for a mix of relish and salad cream was presented in the jar, unadorned, on the table, to be spread on a white bloomer loaf, sawn off in doorsteps while tucked under her elbow. (Actually sandwich spread has its own particular charms.)
Once, when I stayed at nan’s after having my tonsils out, she offered to make me my favourite meal, spaghetti. I was horrified when it came covered in tomato ketchup.
But she liked good food. She enjoyed my mum’s foreign holiday influenced cooking. She just couldn’t, for the life of her, reproduce it.
In other ways though she was the perfect grandmother, always carrying a large clasped handbag full of sweets, showing us how to knit, sew and crochet. In anthropology they now talk about the grandma gene, the mystery of why human females live past the menopause, surmising that this helped grandchildren to survive and improved their chances. Indeed, it has been seen that matrilineal tribes, where mothers and children stay in their maternal village, rather than moving to the mother in law’s home, have enhanced childhood survival rates. More than half the calories eaten by children in extant hunter-gatherer tribes (how anthropologists study early humans) have been provided by grandmothers.
So let’s celebrate the grandmother! It seems we wouldn’t be here without them.
Then another Underground comedy night with Josie Long (who recently appeared on Have I got news for you?) on June 10th. This time the theme is Dr Who. Whovians will enjoy a Doctor Who based menu, with items from classic Who and new Who.
My daughter will play Clara.
Also performing will be Viv Groskop.
Tickets £40 book here: http://www.wegottickets.com/event/216821