I can remember shrieking hysterically at the searing heat blazing through my index finger, and Mama as calm as can be packed my swelling finger with a paste of bicarbonate of soda. I can’t say for sure that it helped much, but what did help was being allowed to choose anything I wanted from the pantry to help me feel better.
And thus began my relationship with food. Food heals all. It makes you whole. It gives you warmth in your tummy and a tangy sizzle on your tongue. The aromatic spice fills you being with a charge of energy and the gooey chocolaty batter from a devil’s food cake tantalizes your inner demon. In short, I am totally and unrepentantly addicted to food. Without it, I think I would starve.
The scorpion did me a huge favour that day. I did not repay it gently though...I bashed it into a pulp with one of my wellington boots and sent it on its way to scorpion heaven. In the hopes of consoling my pain, and a bit of embarrassment at my explosive display of shrieking, I stepped into the cool dark pantry and like any child on Christmas morning, was filled with excitement as I reached up to pull the light switch on to discover the glorious gifts laid out before me. No Christmas can compare.
The light caught the glint on the glass jars filled with treasure. Mama had jars filled with ingredients stored and stacked according to use. The bottom shelf was for the larger jars, filled with flour, sugar, rice, barley, bran and maize. The next few shelves contained Bird’s custard powder, jellies, stock powders, and exotic spices of all kinds, cooking chocolate, homemade fondants, oils, and homemade sauces.
The top shelf...ahhh the top shelf. Jars of cherries, glace fruit, pecan nuts, brazil nuts, almonds, preserved apricots, plums, kumquats and the list goes on. The top shelf is also where Mama stored the cookie tins. One for lemon creams, one for muesli bars, one for Romany creams, one for coconut dreams and then there was a box. It was one of those boxes whose lids fitted snugly over the bottom part, almost like a hat box. It was decorated with scenes from a London park with women dressed in bustier dresses and men in top hats, carriages with dressed horses and happy children playing with the family dog. It must have been one of the many items brought with Mama and Bumps from England when they came over to Rhodesia on the Union Castle in the 1950s.
Inside this box were Mama’s handmade chocolates. Strawberry fondant, vanilla cream, coffee delight, almond brittle and orange snaps. Each one a different design, a perfect creation of impending pleasure. This box and I became soul mates. Even to this day the excitement of opening a luxury box of chocolates is comparable to falling in love. YUM.
I share with you today Mama’s fondant recipe:.
What you need:
- 1 tin of condensed milk
- 3 ½ cups sifted icing sugar
- Some corn flour to dust the work surface
- Your chosen flavourings (coffee essence, peppermint oil, strawberry etc)
How to make:
- Mix the condensed milk and icing sugar and your chosen flavour together till smooth and forms a ball – add more icing sugar if too soft.
- Dust your work surface with some corn flour and roll the fondant into a smooth sausage shape.
- Cut into small rounds and decorate with cherries or almonds and serve as after dinner bonbons.