|Auntie Bessie circa 1950s|
|Auntie Bessie circa 1975|
After our dinner plates had been cleared, we were ready for our dessert. Auntie Bessie took out her best glassware from a display cabinet in the room she referred to as ‘the parlour’. Small ruby red fruit bowls which lit up with reflected firelight before being filled with tinned fruit salad and a generous pouring from a tilted can of Carnation milk. It was easy to believe that God had smiled down on me, one of his little children, on those late Saturday afternoons, for it must have been His benevolent hand that threw the solitary glacé cherry my way. Feeling quite special, I would save this waxy, yet softly disintegrating crimson-red bead until last, and then with a sly grin for my cherry-starved baby brother, I would pop the fruit onto my tongue, clamp my mouth tight shut and savour its momentary perfumed sweetness. In later years the cherry seemed to disappear from this syrupy concoction of fruit cubes: perhaps it was due to a lackadaisical attitude at the canning factory? Or had the manufacturers been bombarded with letters of complaint from angry mothers accusing them of inciting sibling disharmony? Maybe my little brother had developed a degree of wiliness and sneaked out the cherry without me knowing. Whatever the reason was, the remaining medley of fruit, by then, had certainly begun to lose its appeal. And on reflection - it was probably no coincidence that around that time I started to question the existence of God.
There is no recipe to accompany this posting. I know that whatever I produce in imitation of what I tasted on those magical childhood Saturdays would, like the ‘Aunt Bessie’ products from our supermarket freezers, be an inferior copy of its original. I prefer to retrieve the essence of those wholesome filling meals from the packed store that has now become my memory. But, of course, I am saddened that I will never taste such food again.
|Me, Auntie Bessie's backyard circa 1975|