Sunday, June 13, 2010

Alison's Kitchen

We were halfway up the M1 to Leicester for the weekend when I called John's mom, Alison, to give her our ETA.  "Oooh, lovely," she said.  "Shall I be pessimistic and estimate a bit later, as I haven't put dinner in the oven yet?"  Saliva automatically pooled in my mouth as I kicked an empty Pret sandwich box under my seat and smiled into the phone:  "Yes, that sounds great," I said.  I knew what she would say next.  "Well, it's nothing to get excited about, I just -" "Whipped up a little something," I finished for her.  By now, I know all too well what Alison means by "a little something".  After 3-4 years of visiting her sweet home in Wigston, Leicester, I know that at the end of our 1 hour 47 minute train journey or 2 hour car drive or 3 hour bus ride, eagerly awaiting our grumbling stomachs at 10 or 11 pm on a Friday night is not "a little something" but instead, something akin to three pizzas made from scratch with prawns atop one and four cheeses on the other.  Or four different spicy curries, lovingly stirred for hours on end and handmade dhosas (which miraculously survived the bin ... but that's a story for another time).

Last night was no exception, when we were greeted with a wonderful meaty aroma emanating from the oven.  "Mmm ... that smells divine!" I said as I entered the kitchen.  It turned out to be a manti recipe from Alison's Afghan neighbor when she was living in Germany - long  before John was even born.  Warm, delicious and filling, it was the perfect meal to end a hectic week.

The next morning, after a light breakfast, we decided to purchase materials for a BBQ (FINALLY, my first BBQ of the summer!) later that evening.  But first, Alison "threw together" a light lunch, which consisted of the lovely cous cous salad above, a roast lamb joint (seriously, sometimes I wonder where she hides these meals because they seem to appear out of nowhere and yet I have no doubt she's actually made them - give me a few of these dishes to "whip up" and it'd take me the whole day) and homemade mint sauce (as seen below, with fresh mint from the garden, nonetheless). 

While I'm only beginning to find my feet in the kitchen (as seen in my posts recording my Kraft Family adventures and other foolish attempts to pretend I know anything about cooking at all), John's mom's cooking continually makes me feel ... not worthy.  I bow in reverence to her fruit, lemon drizzle, and Victoria sponge cakes.  I smack my lips with primal ecstasy at her expertly cooked pork, lamb and beef roasts - all accompanied by gravy made from the meat juices and vegetable stock.  I shed a tear at her perfectly caramelized carrots, which seem to disintegrate and shrink to the size of my pinky in the pan when I attempt to make them.

In short, Alison makes me a firm believer that homemade never tasted so good.

1 comment

  1. always glad to raid the old and newer recipe books for appreciative guests!


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