Mum and Fish 'n' Chips
Mum’s going to Texas for Christmas to stay with my sister. I hope she’s got a chip shop nearby, because we're convinced that's all she eats.
She came around the other Friday, which is always kebab night, but she refuses to eat kebabs - even though it's chicken (which she likes) and bread (which she likes) and salad (which she's not a great fan of, but doesn’t have to eat).
“No,” she says, “I don’t like kebabs. They’re too spicy,” and as much as I try and persuade her that it’s the sauce that’s spicy, not the meat, she won’t have it.
Now back when the Knights Templar flooded the Middle East with Jewish and Muslim blood on their Crusade to the Holy Land, Arabic cuisine was a lot more enterprising than Western cooking. Whilst the medley of colours that the spices offered the food had mystical meanings to the Arabs, the Crusaders themselves used these spices to cover up the vile quality and taste of wretched rotten meat, giving the small, dark bazaar that served them in Jerusalem its name, The Rue de Malquisinat (The Street of Bad Cooking), although things have moved on since those days.
“But you’ve never tried a kebab,” I’ll argue.
“I don’t need to,” she counters, “They’re too spicy for me.” What kind of sense does that make? In fact my mum can sometimes be quite rude. We invited her over for Sunday lunch one time and she said, “Well, it depends on what you’re cooking.” How rude is that! She then went on to add, “Well, I don’t always like your cooking.”
She hardly ever invites us over for a meal, generally only on Boxing Day, but she’d be deeply insulted if we refused by saying, “No thanks, we don’t really like your cooking. If you’re planning on serving up some nice lemon & pepper chicken with a lovely big dish of Mediterranean veg (onions, green peppers, red peppers, garlic, mushrooms etc.) then we’re up for it, but if you’re going to serve us cheese soufflé and powdered mash, then no thanks.”
So when she comes round on Friday nights she often brings her own fish 'n' chips in. Now this particular Friday she ate half the fish 'n' chips, as she normally does, and took the rest home with her 'for tomorrow.'
But on Saturdays she always goes to Brenda's and invariably takes in fish 'n' chips for a ‘special treat.’
Our son went around that night so she suggested they go down and pick up some fish 'n' chips, which if my calculations are correct means that she’s eaten fish ‘n’ chips three times in a 24-hour period. Kai’s suggestion of picking up a curry fell on deaf ears.
She'll have eaten half of the fish ‘n’ chips, of course, and put the rest in the fridge to join the others from Friday 'for later.'
On Sundays she goes to Yves’s where, presumably, she has a roast, the meat and potatoes no doubt being supplemental to the chemical withdrawal addiction of fish ‘n’ chips, and helping to alleviate the cold sweats and shivers. But, unless she manages to find a fish ‘n’ chips dealer on the way home, this means it wouldn't be until Monday when she’s able to re-heat the fish 'n' chips that have been in the fridge since Friday.
So we reckon that between Friday and Monday she eats fish 'n' chips four, possibly five, times ..... and will still have some left over for Tuesday.
The problem my sister has to face over Christmas is that we have no idea what Mum eats on Wednesdays and Thursdays. My sister, who’s quite a good cook, will just have to use her imagination, and if she does I'm sure she can come up with something closely resembling fish 'n' chips.
Mind you, she’d better not even consider trying to get away with giving her Kentucky Fried Chicken because she'll absolutely refuse to eat it. She'll push it around her plate and then announce that it's far too spicy. I speak from experience. One Friday night we informed her we weren’t having kebabs, but had opted for KFC instead. Mum, of course, decided it was going to be too spicy the minute she heard the suggestion.
Now I don’t want you to think of my Mum as a little old lady with an empty larder. Far from it. We stayed there for six weeks last Christmas in the middle of a house move. One night when I was out, Sue and Kai decided to clear out her huge chest freezer. They found food in there from 2006! Well they got the giggles then, and started competing with each other to see who could find food with the oldest sell-by date on it. They found some more stuff from 1999, but Kai won the competition by finding a package of food with the date 1982 on it. My mum has food in her chest freezer that is 29 years old!
They snuck it out the house and chucked it away. Don’t ask me what it was, meat from some now extinct species no doubt. I just hope she wasn’t saving it for anything special.
At half term I had an awful seven-hour drive back from Devon with gridlocked traffic all the way. Kai and I were totally knackered by the time we got home, but I was taking Sue out to see David Essex, so had to run in, quick change of clothes and out again. However, we arrived to find Mum parked outside and struggling out of her car.
We helped her in the house and she immediately tried to show us a couple of frozen fish. We just had to excuse ourselves as we had to unpack the car, eat a quick cheese sandwich and dash out to the David Essex show.
It turns out she's found two frozen fish in her freezer. She'd asked my sister if they were hers and she’d said No. She's asked Sue if they were ours and she’d told her No. So she's brought them round to show us. "I thought you might like to see them."
"What? Two dead fish! You thought we'd like to see two dead fish!"
Sue, who’s more tactful than me said, "Thanks for that, Maisie, but make sure to take them home with you. I've no room in my freezer for two dead fish - I've got a Tesco Shop coming in the morning - and I certainly don't intend to cook something that could be 30 years old. And I don't want them stinking up our dustbin either."
We went out to David Essex and Kai made sure she took them home. She’s no doubt put them back in the freezer.
So there's only two answers;
1. She bought them herself 30 years ago and in the passing of time forgot to eat them
2. That bloke who keeps selling her frozen goods (the "kind man" who helped her to clear out her freezer a couple of months ago so there'd be more room for whatever he sells her) sold them to her and dumped them in there when she wasn't looking. And the worrying thing is how do we persuade her to tell this bloke to fuck off? I'm almost thinking he's coming round regularly to scam her. She'd never tell us.