RDP #25: Precedent

Migros Supermarket, Langendorf

The general idea is that mum is the best cook. Then the kids get married, or move away and they discover there are other ways of cooking and preparing meals, so mums, forget it. There is always someone that does it better. It is one of the reasons that I like to try something different sometimes, although often the ideas fail me and so I go back to the same old thing: everyone likes it, everyone eats it, and there is nothing worse than having a plate full of leftovers after a meal.

My mum had the best method. Mum could not cook, but she cooked the same as her mum did and her mum grew up at the end of the 19th century beginning 20th century. There was no such thing then as organic food in those days, although no that is not true. Everything was organic because the idea of leaving nature to itself was then the only idea, so perhaps grandmother had more natural qualities in her vegetable. However mum’s first ideas of cooking were when tinned food was invented. Stew was always no. 1 on the list, with dumplings of course: the pastry clumps you cooked with the meat and vegetable. If mum put carrots in the stew they usually came from a tin, but she cooked them together with the meat for at least a couple of hours to make sure they were cooked.

Dad loved everything that mum cooked, but his mother also grew up at the end of the 19th century. In those days the longer you cooked it, the better it was, especially if it was meat. Mum never realised that liver only needed a few minutes to cook, and you usually had to chew her liver because she cooked it for half an hour at least.

Dad was really convinced that this was the best way. Later when mum passed away, he was left to his own devices. Pork chop was cooked in the oven because mum always did it like that, everything was cooked in the oven.  He usually cooked it for at least 1-2 hours to make sure it was tender. I remember his words when he visited us in Switzerland with his girlfriend. They were both golden oldies. He was making excuses all the time when I cooked a meal saying “they like it that way”. I did not ask him what way or who “they” were, as it was safer.

The general opinion at home was that I could not cook and my old man (meaning future husband) should be pitied as he would be living on fish fingers and chips for all his life.  I do make them now and again, but rarely. Mum cooked vegetable until it fell apart, I prefer mine to have a little bite to it.

Is it a wonder that I dislike precedents? It makes life boring. I like a bit of oomph in my life, trying perhaps a different spice, mum only knew salt and pepper. Mum never made spaghetti, but she was sure it grew on trees.

RDP #25: Precedent

12 thoughts on “RDP #25: Precedent

  1. My mother was also an awful cook and she TOO cooked canned vegetables until they were mere protoplasm. Not once in my family did you ever hear anyone say “Mom, why don’t you make that great …” because nothing she made was great. If we were lucky, it was edible.

    We all learned to say stuff like “Mom, don’t worry about dinner. We’ll make our own” and we were just kids. But anything you pulled out of the fridge was better than whatever she would have cooked!

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    • The thing in our family was that no-one knew any different. My mums sisters were all for quantity and not quality. Only mum’s sister-in-law was a good cook and thought when she cooked and everyone found she was not a good cook. Dad was always happy with mum’s cooking: as long as it was meat with gravy, potatoes and greens (cabbage) he was happy. One day I told mum that just a mixed salad would be ok for dinner with some fried meat perhaps. That convinced her that I did not apprecate food and home cooking.


    • There is a bit of a family story behind the video. I must have been abut 8 years old and was watching it with mum and dad on the TV, usually a serious political programme Panaorama, but it was 1st April. They showed the spaghetti harvest and mum was fascinated. “I didn’t know that spaghetti grew on trees” and actually he had no idea where spaghetti came from. To be quite honest neither did I at 8 years old in East London. And so most of the english public were fooled on that day with the spaghettii harvest, in Tessin of all places in Switzerland,

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  2. I guess our parents generation can be forgiven for boring meals because for many years they didn’t have a lot to work with when there was rationing and not much money. I was quite happy with mum’s predominantly meat, potatoes and two veg dinners but could not abide boiled cabbage. I still can’t eat cooked cabbage although I like it in coleslaw.

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    • Inam not even sure it was cabbage, it was called greens, and it was green leaves, boiled in water. The only Part inliked was bubble and squeak, which we called the leftovers mixed with potato and fried.


      • My dad, who grew up in Stepney liked things like Bubble and Squeak and tripe. I don’t recall mum cooking them often though as she didn’t care for them. Mum’s family was more genteel I think.

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        • My dad grew up in Stratford in Bridge Road opposite the railway Lines. Since the Olympics in England Stratford has become quite high class. His mother was from a farming family in Sissinghurst so I don’t think she was so much into bubble and squeak. My mum would cook tripe and onions, but only her and dad would eat it. I remember the sheets of tripe – yuck


    • It was in the fifties and working class meals were then meat, potatoes and gravy. No one in my part of Londond had an idea what pasta was, just foreign stuff and itbwas very easy for many to believe that spaghetti grew on trees.


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