The Boiled Veg Rule


Mrs Head likes to tell the story from her youth. Growing up in her grandmother’s house, she would arrive home early on a Sunday morning having dispensed of a bottle of cheap cider in the park with her friends. By 11am (and having been tucked up in bed for less than two hours) her grandmother would shout up the stairs that the Sunday roast was nearly ready. Of course it was. The pots had been boiling since 6am and the windows frosted with the condensation of boiled veg and cheap cider breath.  ‘Nan’ as she was known didn’t care. It was her Sunday ritual to have the dinner on the table before the morning was out.

My wife has fond and lasting memories of those Sunday mornings. And a few years back, when her grandmother made that journey we all must make alone, we made sure to share the boiled veg story in her epitaph. We still wake on Sunday mornings and sample the air for the smell of cabbage and parsnips.

Sunday dinner is still a tradition but now it arrives on the table later in the day.

As we surface from not –so-cheap cider oblivion Mrs Head turns on the tv to one of those pretentious and pompous Sunday morning cooking programmes. You know the ones dear readers, the celebrity chef silently laments having to share screen time with the B celebrity plugging his/her new book. Narcissistic ingredients, reassuringly difficult to obtain in the Tesco Metro are listed with the proviso; “Do not substitute, it will not work- you have to have Madagascar vanilla pod.”

We don’t have the dishes they make on the telly. We can’t. Mrs Head is very particular about what she eats. Things that are mixed together are out. I often tease her that her kitchen would be served well by using one of those industrialised prison-style trays that have half a dozen individual compartments. That way the corn can’t touch the chicken and the roast potatoes stay well away from the carrots, as God intended.

Today we watched a comedian trying to make beet root rosti with smoked haddock. There are only a few foods I won’t eat an beet root is one as it tastes of dirt, in my humble opinion. The Mrs loves beet root as does the rest of the family.

We all love fish. Perhaps love is too strong a word as my wife won’t eat shell fish but does like fish and chips. She also likes smoked haddock or mackerel.

Today’s recipe called for a smoked haddock fillet on a beet root rosti. I commented on the fact that Mrs Head would like this dish. To my surprise she declined.

“No not with the fish on top.”

I countered with the fact that she always ate smoke haddock.

Her reply was “I only like fish when it doesn’t look like fish.”

I’d forgotten. She was her grandmother’s grandchild. She had rules.

Keep the Faith,

The Head

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