My grandma’s cooking compilation-You will be missed, but never forgotten
Allow me today to write a full personal post, please.
The weekend just gone was meant to be a happy one for me. I turned 30 yesterday (quite a number!), but my grandmother Rosa passed away the day before. She had spent almost three weeks in ICU due to an intestinal failure that needed urgent surgery. And when it seemed she was slowly recovering, she then deteriorated until nothing else could be done to keep her alive. All in all is very saddening, but that she is re-uniting with my grandfather gives me some relief.
Believe it or not, to think about my nan at this moment makes me very happy. You all know that I visited her two months ago-ending this way a three-years wait. And we cherished each other. And we spent a tremendous quality time together. And, in consequence, I now feel that peace of mind of having been with her just before her departure. I was already treasuring these moments and I will continue to do so even more.
My grandmother Rosa has been mentioned here very often. She grew up in rural Spain in the years that followed the end of the Spanish War (1936-1939). She would often tell us about the hunger of these times and how people were literally starving in the streets of her natal town of Jodar, province of Jaen-to the extent some of them used to eat potato peels, she would recall. As a matter of fact, during the years the food stamps system was in place, she was once denied her basket at the age of ten even though she could legitimately claim it that day. She remembers to have been dismissed from the queue while she was shouted: “Go home, girl! You’ve already been stamped”. Only because she was overweight. If an episode can reflect the cruelty of Franco’s dictatorship this one can’t be truer.
With her bereavement, I have already lost two of my grandparents-both on my maternal side. The chapter of my life in which I am a grandson is running towards its end. However, it is said no one vanishes as long as they are remembered. This post will serve the honourable purpose of paying a sincere tribute to my grandmother Rosa and her culinary skills. I will keep her alive through the recipes she has taught me and it would make me very happy if you could replicate them too.
Of course, I must mention her signature dish. The one and only. Our family favourite. I don’t remember a holiday without having it for lunch one day-and on my last visit we weren’t going to break the row. The clay pan showing in the picture has been with my grandmother ever since I can remember. This is what makes this dish so special.
Now I’ve got her recipe I am totally determined to cook it in my Oxford kitchen. Disclaimer: I will have to use a different pan, resulting in a slightly different version of the original. If anyone knows of a place where I can find a clay pan, please let me know in the comments box.
When going on holidays to visit her she would already have a few of these waiting for me. She knew how much I loved it and so she always complimented me. I would spend the whole summer just having this for dessert-and some fruit too, of course!
Funny fact: the day I asked her for the recipe over the phone she told me all the ingredients, but not the amounts of each one of them. She has always eyeballed all her cooking and followed her intuition. Every time I wanted to find out how much of something she would reply: “Just check as you go, son!”. How cheeky, nan!
Now that the days are getting warmer (and nicer) it’s time to populate your tables with salads. Grandmother Rosa, as a good Andalusian who knew how to properly fight the insane summer temperatures, never failed to do so. This dish was the starter of every lunch and, occasionally, a dinner’s main itself.
Think of this being prepared with local produce such town’s olives, town’s olive oil and vegetables from my uncle’s allotment. In addition, add some ice cubes to make it even chillier. I don’t care if it’s 35 o 40 Celsius in the middle of August because a bowl of Pipirrana will take me straight to the Arctic.
Last but not least (because I will add more recipes as I cook them) here it is the only recipe my grandma does not eyeball. Yet she measures the ingredients in a very unorthodox way for our days: using a yogurt cup. I believe this has something to do with the (unfortunate) fact that she was illiterate, like most people of her generation.
We baked this cake during my stay in March. She used to nail it at once so I had no choice but to follow her instructions strictly. It didn’t work. In fact, it was a tremendous disaster as the batter came out of the tin and fell all over the place. Then, I realised she just doubled the amounts-the evidence that even the finest tailor rips a suit every now and then.