Treasured Tastes

A slice of conversation, chatter about food with my Living Voices groups. #treasuredtastes for #dementiaawarenessweek 2015

Our conversations started over a plate of the first Scottish strawberries of the season… we have a bags of herbs and spices to pass round…         
‘My grandparents, they moved into Aberdeen in 1916 from the country, because they were told there would be more food, farm workers were literally starving to death, thats when my mother was born’
‘Times were hard in Scotland, there was no food if you were poor.’
‘There was a war.’
‘You had to be a lot less fussy, not like now’.
      ‘Did you like everything?’
‘I ate everything, I didn’t think about whether I liked it or not… Oh I know I didn’t like marmalade, never liked marmalade.’
‘Oh I could never abide marmalade either, I used to eat round the marmalade, just eat the toast and try to leave the marmalade’.

‘Whats your favourite food? What do you remember best when you were growing up, or                    when you first set up your own home?’
‘Ooh I love a nice bit of soup’
     ‘Oh yes, I love soup too…What kind? Who made it?’
‘When I made it I soaked my peas overnight, then in the morning I added stock, turnip, a carrot, a tattie, an onion or a leek…let it cook, then took oot the veggies mashed them up with the masher and put them back; we always had good stock, my husband was a butcher.’ 
       ‘That’s the way I do mine too, but I use lentils instead of peas, my husband uses rice.’
‘Oh rice, we used to have Granny’s soup with rice, ooh it was lovely that, really lovely soup, with vegetables and rice.’
     ‘Theres a poem by Jackie Kay you know about loving her Grandpa’s soup’…(and I read the poem to the group, then I say ‘But I don’t know what a hauch is…”
‘A hauch, its just a shonk, a pork shonk’ 
‘A lovely big lump of hauch,’ 
      ‘The man I saw yesterday said to me“ Ugh (then grimaced…and went a wee bitty pale) a huge hauch just lying there in fat, looking at you, spoiling your soup…ugh” I should have realised then what it was…’it’s my Granny being English that does it’ I say  ‘I would have said Hock with a hard ‘ck’’ 
‘Its just a shonk,’  
     ‘Ah yes that explains it. What was your favourite food?’ 
‘I like soup too, a nice tattie soup,’ 
‘Oh you cant beat a good tottie soup,’ 
      ‘Without the shonk?’ 
‘Aye you cannae pit a shonk in tottie soup you ken?’ 
     ‘What about barley?’ 
‘Aye barley that’s good too, but you cant put much in, swells up, stand a spoon up in it soup’. 
      ‘So is soup everybody’s favourite thing…really?’ …
I’m surprised, I suppose, but somehow now having listened to the conversations flow and the bits I’ve not transcribed the love of soup grows from our untiring ability to eat a hot nourishing bowlful on a daily basis, its infinite variety even when basically the recipe is more or less the same, its familarity, reliability, soup is loyal dependable food. I tell the story of Stone soup re-set to Scotland (my version can be found here: ) everyone seems to remember nettles going into soup, or remembers talk of nettles going into soup.
 “Your mither never telt you ‘til aifter you’d eaten it” seems to be the rule with nettles.   Several ladies tell me it’ll be good for my blood when my babies still just a year old… (so this really was common knowledge within our lifetime…part of me ponders what happened) 
‘No you cannae beat a Sunday roast, here can you read that? My writings not so good anymare.’ 
     ‘You tell me what it says then I’ll be able to read it’
“Sunday roast”
      ‘Of course sunday roast, what did you have with your Sunday roast?’
‘A joint, pork or a side of beef, or brisket, cannae beat a bit of brisket.’
     ‘Ooh I love yorkshires, with onion gravy?’
‘Aye you have to have good gravy.’
‘A bit of pastry,’ (I wish I’d asked what the bit of pastry was…but I missed the moment…cobbler? my husband wondered)
     ‘So is everyone’s favourite meal a Sunday roast?’
‘Mines still soup.’
‘Breakfast’, one gentlemen interjects.‘Breakfast with the queen.’
     ‘What would you have for breakfast with the queen?’
‘Rice pudding,          with nutmeg.’
‘Ooh rice pudding , cant beat a good rice pudding…’

This piece is a collated conversation, input is predominantly based on one session with some editing and a couple of relevant excerpts interjected from other conversations held in other sessions on the same subject as part of the Living Voices program, the sessions included other songs, stories poems and lovely conversations…and my words are very much abbreviated, I’m much friendlier in person!
Living Voices is a project run by The Scottish Poetry Library  in conjunction with The Scottish Storytelling Centre  a project I have had the privilege of being a facilitator on for the last 30 months; with many thanks for the contributions from residents of Kingswood Sheltered Housing and Riverside care home in Aberdeen and the volunteers at Kilmadock Development Trust: whose advice and hilarious input I used when planning the session: 

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