Looking back on some of my recent posts, I realise that my one regular reader now probably thinks that I don’t enjoy cooking. Nothing could be further from the truth. Although to be fair, it’s a passion that was almost extinguished in home economics classes at school.
I fortunately come from a long line of great cooks and parents with a background in food. My maternal grandmother had one of those old fashioned corner shops that was the hub of a small community, not a stone’s throw from Villa Park. While my father, having moved from Portsmouth to Birmingham to play for the Villa youth squad, ended up working for (and eventually owning) the Chairman’s wholesale fish business.
As a child, I ate out frequently in some of the best restaurants in Europe. A habit which has persisted down the years and it’s my proud boast that, thanks to years of extensive training from my Dad, I can locate a good restaurant with my eyes shut.
I never cooked a great deal, or indeed with much success, until I got a part-time Saturday job in a restaurant. Initially, as a waitress, but later I started cooking breakfasts on Saturday mornings and soon received a ringing endorsement from the local press by being voted the provider of “Best Breakfast in Birmingham”.
I continued cooking at University, where I pleaded for and got self-catering accommodation. It’s said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Particularly true in the case of my better half, whom I met at University and wooed with my burgeoning cookery skills. Fortunately, he was an easy catch. His mother is, head and shoulders, one of the worst cooks I have ever had the misfortune to meet. I’m fond of saying “her cooking should carry a government health warning”.
When we first married, I was still at University and we had very little money. As Xmas presents, I made up hampers with my home made preserves, Xmas cakes and puddings. I just loved spending hours in the kitchen. At one time I recall making over 20 Xmas cakes. It was almost becoming a cottage industry.
When we relocated to London, and I was working in the City, I rarely had much time to indulge myself in the kitchen. Though, whenever possible, I enjoyed entertaining friends and family, I still do.
For me one of the joys of living in France is daily access to some of the finest seasonal produce and having the time to experiment in the kitchen. For the first time in I don’t know how many years, I have started making my own preserves again, most of which get distributed among friends, neighbours and family. I enjoy baking cakes for my club’s pointages and afternoon tea with my neighbours. But probably, most of all, I just enjoy sharing wonderful produce with family and friends.