Nan Was My Nigella

Fanny Craddock, the TV cook of the 60’s, was
too posh to appear with a Player’s Weights
ciggie perma-glued to her lip-sticked lips,
but not my Nan.

Standing on a chair next to her in the aromatic
kitchen fog, I eagerly absorbed the commentary
from the side of her mouth like a microphone.
Although we were in Dagenham not Chelsea,
Nan was my Nigella, only 50 years early.

OK, at five-foot nothing she lacked Nigella’s
poise, and didn’t cook with her coat on after
haring back from Harrod’s in a hackney cab
with a couple of guinea fowl, and owned no
state-of-the-art equipment like Cuisinart this
and Kitchen Aid that.

No, nan performed her magic with multi-tasking
flour-covered hands, and her eyes were her scales.
In her day midnight chocolate cake fridge raids
or bolognese in bed hadn’t been invented, and
no-one she knew had pan-asian soirees or, for
God’s sake, asparagus kettles.

My ash-dropping supergran cooked with her
soul, the queen of the victoria sandwich cakes
and fit-for-kings roast dinners, and let me tell
you before you ask, her Yorkshire puds always
turned out like Fanny’s. And I’m sure if she had
made doughnuts, they would have done too.