Thursday, 10 June 2021



"I am a divine mosaic of everyone who has ever touched my heart." - Tumblr user drowhsy

When I was growing up, my Nanna and Granddad lived in the house next door to us. Nanna was a great cook, and every week she produced a selection of cakes for both households - including her famous fruitcake. To Nanna's eternal chagrin, it always sunk in the middle. She tried tweaking the recipe - adjusting the proportions of ingredients, experimenting with oven temperatures and trying 'hacks' such as tossing the dried fruit in flour before stirring it into the cake mix. Nothing worked - the fruitcakes continued to sink in the middle no matter what she did. But perversely, it was precisely this characteristic that made her fruitcake so beloved by everyone who tried it - the sunken middle made the cake scrumptiously moist and more-ish.  Isn't it strange that it's often the perceived imperfections which make a person or a thing so unique and beloved?      

Since I've been doing a lot more baking recently, I decided I'd like to make one of Nanna's fruitcakes myself and asked Mum for the recipe. She has lent me two books full of handwritten recipes, one which she began keeping when she married my Dad in 1960, and one that belonged to my Grandmother. I am so enjoying leafing through the pages re-discovering favourite recipes from my childhood. I particularly love the pages with lots of splashes and smudges - clearly the most popular, frequently made dishes. I pass my fingers over the familiar handwriting, imagining the family gatherings, dinner parties, birthdays and anniversaries - and the accumulated hours of peeling, chopping, stirring, mixing and baking that went into creating them. I think of the love for us all that was that was poured into each dish. What powerful magic!

Family recipes are just one of the many small but precious legacies that we receive from our loved ones - and that we ourselves can think about passing on to those who will follow on after us. Food, songs, stories, arts, crafts, lore, skills, culture, knowledge. What precious legacies have you inherited?  And what treasures do you have to pass on?