One from the vaults: I’d like to be able to tell you…………..

This is rather more recent from June 2017 and it explains when and how I first started to cook.

One of my friends recently asked me how long I’d been cooking. I would’ve liked to tell her that I learned to cook at my grandmother’s or mother’s knee but that would be a lie. I showed very little interest or even aptitude for cooking until my late teens. Home economics had been a disaster with most of my offerings ending up in the waste bin, deemed unsuitable for human or animal consumption.

This changed when I had a Saturday job waitressing at a restaurant in Birmingham. One day, when the restaurant was short staffed, I found myself cooking English breakfasts. It wasn’t exactly a success but no one died and no one complained. I set about this new task with vigour, adding grilled tomatoes and fried bread to the restaurant’s cooked breakfast offering. Eventually I got a rave review in the local rag and a number of bookings for wedding breakfasts. Try cooking breakfast for 32 people at the same time – it’s a challenge!

A year or two later, at university, I met the love of my life and wooed him via his stomach. It worked, we married and, having very little money, I started making edible presents for family and friends. We entertained at home, rather than dining out, and I started to acquire what has now become an extensive library of cookery books, and limited expertise in the kitchen.

We moved to London, life got busier and I had less and less time to spend cooking. We still entertained, but less frequently. Years passed and my cookery books started collecting dust. A few years ago, I decided to throw it all in, move to France and spend time doing the things I wanted to do, including re-discovering my love of cooking.

Our first Christmas in France, we held a cocktail party to thank our neighbours for their understanding during the lengthy renovations of our flat. I was delighted when they asked me where I had purchased the delicious nibbles I’d served and they were astonished when I told them I had made them myself. Yes, quelle surprise, the British can cook.

A few of my French friends joke that I’ve got a Michelin star – if only! But I’m never happier than when hordes of friends are coming over and I’m cooking up a storm in the kitchen. Many of these friendships have come about through our mutual love of cycling, rather than cooking.

It was my husband who first took up cycling. At week-ends, I would get up early to cook him an energising breakfast and would have lunch waiting for him on his return. I experimented – not always successfully – with energy bars to sustain him on his rides.

When I too started riding, I began to help out at cycling club events. France doesn’t have a tradition of ending a ride with a coffee and cake. There’s no need. Clubs take it in turn to organise rides most Sundays. Drinks and snacks are provided at a pre-agreed rendezvous point. Some of these pointages are spectacular with the local villages providing untold goodies to tempt us to visit, while others are downright shameful. Personally, I think the clubs should be awarded stars, or maybe toques, for their efforts.

At our cycling club’s various events, I decided that our unique selling feature would be a selection of my home-make sweet and savoury cakes to supplement the shop bought ones. It was a universally popular move  among the local cycling fraternity. At one such event, the local mayor declared that:

 Not only have the British taken over the Tour de France but their women are clearly much better cooks than we thought.

I think that was a case of being dammed with faint praise, but hey ho! In addition, I have catered for participants (up to 500) in a number of local races, club events and for our large and merry band of volunteers to say “thank you” for their tireless efforts at said events. It’s a strategy that’s made me (in)famous the length of the Cote d’Azur. My hand has been sought in marriage by many a local rider and there’s now a long list of pretenders to my beloved husband’s throne.


50 Comments on “One from the vaults: I’d like to be able to tell you…………..

  1. I absolutely enjoyed reading this post. Such an lovely insight to how it’s been.
    ‘It wasn’t exactly a success but no one died and no one complained.’ Died at this part. I couldn’t stop giggling for a little while after I read that. Just sounded so funny added to my imagination of that. But I’m glad that worked out just well 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Kim collects cookery books, I tell her they are a waste of money, they all have exactly the same recipes. She surely agrees (silently) because the only one she uses is a dog eared, grease splashed, lemon drizzled Delia Smith ‘Complete Illustrated Cookery Guide’

    Liked by 3 people

    • If all else fails buy one of the Barefoot Contessa’s cookery books and follow her recipes to the letter – totally fail-safe.


  3. What a charming story! I love it!

    I think a blogger panel should go and test your claims … 😉 … I would volunteer, only as a sacrifice for the common good, of course … 😉 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Fun to read an “ordinary” life told out in the midst of a pandemic. Cooking has been a comfort, as has food, in the midst as well. I enjoyed the hints of friction with British and French ways when clearly you love living in France. Have a great weekend.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I love cooking too, except that, I can’t cook better. So, it more like filling your stomach. I do cook food usually, but on occasions, with guests coming, I am usually not preferred. I don’t mind either, but even after years, I am still wondering how is cooking so difficult.
    I had a good time reading yours cooking journey. Wish I could also cook better, haha…

    Liked by 3 people

      • I do love cooking, trying hands on different recipes and methods, but I guess nothing is working for me. And whether good or not, I haven’t given up. Lets see .. when can I get that “better”. hehe

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Gosh, you really did start quite young to cook. Like you I did not do any cooking when I was living at home, Mum always did it. No wonder you are so positive and happy, you have a lovely life, but then I think because you are so positive and happy, that is the reason you have such a lovely life. Great read, thanks Sheree, Lyn

    Liked by 3 people

  7. In your case, Sheree, clearly, practice makes perfect. 🙂 I wish I could claim the same, but I tend to be rather utilitarian in my cooking; at least we’re still alive, ha!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Beautifully penned as always! You transform the ordinary to extraordinary! YOU ARE SUPER SHEREE! 💛⭐️⭐️⭐️💫💫💫

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pretty neat. I have dust collecting cookery books as well. My first husband loved cooking and though he took the best French cookbooks with him, I still have my fair share. But, I don’t entertain anymore. so on the rare occasions I do, people expect those meals I’m famous for. Maybe, I should fool them and do something different in the future.
    I will say again, all that you’ve displayed in past posts do look amazing.

    Liked by 2 people

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