Breaking Convention with Confectionary

My grandmother lived like she cooked. Or perhaps she cooked like she lived. With abandon. With no regard for the recipe – or the rules. She didn’t take the road most travelled, she deviated off on her own meandering path, battling her way past obstacles, exploring as she went. 


When I was little and at boarding school, she persuaded my mother that in a C of E school, my Roman Catholicism would suffer. Mum, more devout then than she was in later life – and more devout than Gran was so she considered her comment with some cynicism to begin until she relented because Gran persisted and so it was I managed to secure leave of school on a Saturday evening on the pretext of going to mass (And then to the theatre; Gran was far more concerned to nurture in me a love of the arts than a love of God).


I watched her during mass, beneath her mantilla. I watched her wince at things the priest said. Scowl, sometimes, and mutter under her breath During long sermons I watched her nod off.


On Sundays, before she and my grandfather returned me to incarceration (Gran did not drive, she navigated and grandad drove – a team habit that sustained long after my grandmother had begun to lose her sight and my grandfather his hearing), she took me to her Club where she encouraged my swimming and fed me curry – commenting as we ate, telling me about her years in India so that I knew there was some precious piece of my heritage on this plate.  

And then in the sleepy hours back at hers, before the drive to school, whilst my grandfather dozed in his armchair, Gran and I would whip up a storm in her kitchen. She batch cooked goodies for me to take back as tuck in a tin. Once we made lime green peppermint creams which had sweated from individual neatness to a glossy pool by the time I offered them to friends in my boarding house, so we scooped the sweetness out with small hands.


The confectionary likely ‘failed’ because Gran had bent a rule, replaced one ingredient for another, missed one out altogether, added a little extra or another to make up for it.   But the end result was still delicious. It was different, its shape a little unusual, its story more interesting, but it was still delicious.  A bit like Gran.

My mum taught me to cook. My gran taught me to cook like that. I never thought, not then, what a precious life lesson that was: tweak convention, inject a little of yourself into everything, make it up as you go along, you never know what confection you’ll conjure.

2 Responses to “Breaking Convention with Confectionary”

  1. Addy Says:

    The best traditional recipes have often evolved from having something missing or altered. I believe the Bakewell Tart evolved from something else being replaced which made it better.

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      that’s really interesting, Addy! I’m going to look that up. And thank for reading and dropping by. I love hearing from you X

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