MY GRANDPA, REPOST

My grandfather may well, now that I look back on things, have been a bit of a tyrant, he once slapped my mother’s hand with a carving knife when she reached for a morsel of the chicken he was carving.

I’ve written before of my suspicions that he was, quite possibly, gay. When I think about him three things about him are prevalent: his perfect grooming, the wonderful fabrics he draped in unlikely places (a swag of brocade hung, for no practical purpose, in the middle of the passage in my grandparent’s home), and his dining room.

The dining room and the meals eaten in it were always quite formal and the tablescape is set like a photograph in my mind. The linen was white and heavy, the silverware was bone-handled and that table held the last silver cruet set I have ever seen used daily. The carpet faithfully held on to the cabbage and gravy odour that snuck into all the other rooms of the house.

They dressed for meals and actually had a little bell rung when the food was ready to be served; he’d go and ‘wash up’ and don a blazer, I never saw him eating in his shirtsleeves, except on Sunday nights; when they would have their supper on a tray in their bedroom.

Groceries were ordered daily, and a man would deliver them on a bicycle, taking the slip with the order for the next day away with him.

They ate foods that are now completely old-fashioned, even the names sound quaint today; herrings and coddled eggs, griddle cakes and potted ham. Their main meal was always at lunchtime, and always three courses; the first being soup. My gran would never eat the soup course, and he would say “Not very hungry, Pet?” every single day. She, having had two or three brandies before, would have her elbow on the table, her chin in her hand, and would gaze at him mistily, flicking her cigarette ash in a miniscule ashtray she carried everywhere with her.

White pepper, grated cucumber in vinegar, Worcestershire Sauce.
Poached haddock in double cream and parsley, sherried apples, mulligatawny.
Chateaubriand, red cabbage with raisins. Toad-in-the-hole and Devils-on-horseback…

How I wish I could cook for him and dine with him at my own table, just once!

Mon grand-père, le feinschmecker de tyran!

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52 thoughts on “MY GRANDPA, REPOST

  1. *sighs* Stunning memories! What would you cook for him????? *thinks Cindy should set herself a blog challenge and cook a three course meal for her grandad … hell, thinks she should do that for her dad who taught her to cook!!!!) What are Devils-On-Horseback?

  2. A great story, Cin. Many thanks. I loved the details of their little routines. Aren’t families wonderful? It’s sad when there is no one to answer the questions we raise when we are older…

  3. Nostalgie is goed.
    My oupa het soggens vroeg koffie en beskuit geeet, en 9 uur aangesit vir ONTBYT. Wors, eiers, gebraaide tamatie, toast, aartappels, ens. Oh, en natuurlik pap. Matabele, oats of mieliemeel.
    Hy het ook ‘n klokkie gelui as die kos uit die lou oond van die Aga gehaal moes word, en tafel toe gedra word.
    My ouma het nooit gekook nie.

  4. Through your impeccable writing ability and talent for subtle nuances, I believe I’ve just met and had dinner with your grandfather. I LOVED THIS!

  5. Reflecting on someone’s life all this time later, the tiny details are magical. From far away across the world, in a different season and a different era altogether, he sounds the stuff of novels. His table must have been a wonderful place to sit: provided one observed etiquette…

  6. Thank you for allowing us a peek into your window of memories. It is always interesting to see how our observations and emotions are captured by certain things we remember.

  7. Wonderful! Great post

    Beautiful photo and well written as always.

    I am sure he would approve of you even more today.

    Thank you for re-posting, as I missed it the first time.

  8. Charming and engaging write about. Sounds like largely good memories here. Handsome grandfather.

    My mother-in-law was English, so we ate fish (usually white fish, not haddock) – and still do – fish in parsley sauce, toad-in-the-hole, and devils-on-horseback. My first full-time adult job was with a major American bank on the corner of Wall Street and Broadway in Manhattan. The cafeteria always served -believe it or not – mulligatawny. This time around, I didn’t have to look up anything!!! 😀

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