When you are six years old Grandma is God, she can do no wrong. She helps you out of scrapes that Mum and Dad would kill you for, but when it came to her cooking you really had to draw the line.
Blancmange was on her list, but not on mine. And then she would put up chocoes to look and taste like pears, but you ate it because she would watch each mouthful. Grandma had a cellar under her kitchen floor with access gained by a trapdoor then down a ladder. There were all kind of wonderful smells here and odd looking treasures sitting on the shelves.
One Christmas she made jugged hare. The hare was hung, Grandma explained, in a netting bag so that the lovely juices could collect in the bowl below. I looked at the hare’s body and shuddered; it was a salmon colour and stank. In the lovely juices collecting in the bowl were wrigglers. Grandma called them ‘lentils, and assured me that they would make the most delicious gravy.
The hare was chopped into pieces, set in the baking dish in a bed of onions, bacon and vegetables, the prepared ‘lentil’ sauce was poured over it and Grandma placed the concoction in her eye-level oven. I stood in awe by the glass oven door and thought – not for me. My mind wandered to last year’s plum pudding disaster, but that’s another story.
After a little while Grandma then opened a bottle of port, poured herself a ‘bracer’ and drank it down and, opening the oven door, she slurped a liberal dose of port over the bubbling hare. ‘Coming along nicely’ she said, smiling at me. ‘Hungry, darling?’