Bensoir! It's me, Benjamin. I like to eat and drink. And cook. And write.

You may have read stuff I've written elsewhere, but here on my own blog as Ben Viveur I'm liberated from the editorial shackles of others, so pretty much anything goes.

BV is about enjoying real food and drink in the real world. I showcase recipes that taste awesome, but which can be created by mere mortals without the need for tons of specialist equipment and a doctorate in food science. And as a critic I tend to review relaxed establishments that you might visit on a whim without having to sell your first-born, rather than hugely expensive restaurants and style bars in the middle of nowhere with a velvet rope barrier, a stringent dress code and a six-month waiting list!

There's plenty of robust opinion, commentary on the world of food and drink, and lots of swearing, so look away now if you're easily offended. Otherwise, tuck your bib in, fill your glass and turbo-charge your tastebuds. We're going for a ride... Ben Appetit!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The reason I've never cooked a Christmas Dinner

My earliest memory is of December 3, 1979.

I was only about two-and-a-half, but can distinctly remember waking up in the morning and realising that my Mummy wasn't there. Instead, I awoke to Grandma gently explaining that Mummy and Daddy had gone to the hospital, and that I had a new baby brother.

Then came the long walk with Grandma down Longley Road to St George's Hospital to see Mummy and the tiny new family member. That was over 32 years ago.

Yesterday lunchtime I went to that very same hospital - where Grandma had just passed away, aged 83.

It was a sudden, swift and somewhat unexpected heart attack (which is, perhaps, not such a bad way to go, given that she was about to undergo some invasive diagnostic procedures which might well have indicated a slow decline and a lengthy battle against cancer).

She was pretty much herself right up until the last couple of weeks, living life to the full with her dancing, her jigsaws, and her cooking. That was Grandma - always in the kitchen, waiting for her 'pinger' to go off and let her know that the potatoes were ready.

She insisted on baking the wedding cake when I was married last year (and enjoyed reading the blog post about it, despite never really getting to grips with the internet!) and maintained an impressive arsenal of recipes well into her 80s.

And that's why life will be irrevocably changed now that Grandma is gone.

Sunday Lunch

For my entire life, Sunday Lunch has been cooked by Grandma, at Grandma's house in Brixton Hill. For the whole family. Usually with at least two different desserts and then the sweetie tin (a worn-out Quality Street tin - which is older than I am - filled with pick'n'mix!)

Last Christmas - Grandma and me
There was this one Sunday, earlier this year, when Grandma and Uncle David came round to us for a change. I served her my Cottage Pie followed by Maple Shortbread Sandwich, which I think she enjoyed. I'm sure she appreciated the rare day off too!

And then there's Christmas.

Every Christmas Day and Boxing Day since time began has been spent at Grandma's. The food, the laughter, the board games that we all beat her at... it's a become a time-honoured family tradition.

The faces at the dining table have slowly changed over the years, but Grandma has always been there.

I've no idea what's going to happen this year - I've never had to cook a Christmas Dinner before, and Grandma's been hosting it for so long that neither my mum nor my uncle David have ever cooked one either!

Things will never be the same again.

Bye Grandma x

In memory of Barbara Frances Mary Huckstep (nee Corke). 1928-2012

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