Tradition - a Mothers' Day post
|Mrs Aperitif with her pride & joy
Jean-Anthèlme Brillat-Savarin wrote that to receive someone into your home is to assume responsibility for their well-being and happiness until they leave. I was in my 40s before I read that, but it was something I’d known since I was a child, and when I did read it, I recognised immediately an approach to hospitality that I’d inherited from my Mum. I felt like I'd discovered something that had always been there, written into my DNA.
Food has always been an important element of my Mum’s mothering. When we were at home, she took great pleasure in providing for our needs. Food was always prepared from fresh meat, vegetables and fruit. It wasn’t particularly lavish, but she’s a good cook and made us food that was tasty, filling and healthy. She’s never been afraid to try new things, and I have realised in adulthood that we were introduced to curry, pizza, chilli and lasagne a good five years earlier than most families of similar social background. She just loves discovering what you can do with food to give pleasure.
|My sisters, my Grandma and me
It wasn’t just her children my Mum loved to provide for, either. She kept a stash of tinned meats and fish at the back of the cupboard that she could turn into a sandwich supper for the wider family members who regularly visited. This was before phones were common in every household, so arrangements were less easy to make, and close friends and family were not expected to give any notice of a visit. Regardless of who it was or how inconvenient, they were made welcome and provided for. A tin of ham would become sandwiches, a bowl of salad and a plate of cheese and pickles, as if by magic. In my early childhood, guests drank tea more often than not, but wine became more common as tastes changed or – my Mum’s real favourite – a whisky and ginger ale.
My sisters and I brought various friends, and eventually boyfriends, into the home as we grew up. All have been welcomed with the same warmth and generosity. I vividly remember one afternoon around Christmas when my friends came to call with my new-born Goddaughter. They had driven up from London, and Angela couldn’t have been a month old. They weren’t even over the threshold when Mum swooped in to take her from my friend’s arms. Angela was lavished with affection while her exhausted mother was provided with vast quantities of tea, mince pies and cake.
|Mum with my grandson
Next time: setting the scene