I is for…Inspiration

Regular readers of this blog will have noticed that ‘I’ is for interlude…

To be honest, I haven’t felt much like blogging for some time.  Life has been pretty rubbish of late. No, less than rubbish…rubbisher! Still, cataclysmic life events notwithstanding…I confess to have been a little stuck on the alphabet blog (my challenge to myself to blog about each letter of the alphabet).

…at any rate, I’d reached ‘I”. What to choose?  Individual.Yep, that’s me. Iconoclast. Check. Izzat.  Uh? Yes, the last word is a real one – not a cricketing term, it’s derived from Arabic and means reputation or honour. It also happens to be the last entry under ‘I’ in the OED. The OED? Clearly desperate times called for desperate measures. I can usually write my way out of a paper bag. Nothing sprang to mind. My blog muse was…incognito. Inaccessible. Impossible! Earggh!

But tonight, after a long conversation with a friend in …yep, you guessed it, Indiana…I realised that ‘I’ stands for all the inspirational women who are part of my life.  Friends, family and business colleagues – women who juggle childcare with challenge, heartbreak with homemaking, and divorce with devotion to a charitable cause. They are mothers, wives, sisters, daughters and friends. They are breadwinners and bakers. Cooks, CEOs and creatives. Photographers and peacemakers.  They are my support in tough times. I salute them!


This is just a bit of fun that’s been inspired by the revealing confessions of Facebook friends…

Facebook is running an app that detects the colour of your underwear. Well, I think I can go one better. I’ll tell the nationality of my knickers. At this point in time my underwear just happens to be French. Oui. They may have a president with a Napoleon complex, but they do know their ‘entre’ from their ‘nous’ when it comes to undergarments. Can’t wait for another shopping spree at the Galleries Lafayette!

When I was growing up, one of my mom’s maxims was always to wear clean underwear ‘in case you get hit by a bus’. Yep – I could be bleeding to death on the pavement as long as the underwear was clean…or, in my case, matching.  At the time it didn’t seem that important, but as I become more grown up, I realise having a bra and knickers that go together is as essential as clean teeth and brushed hair. And anyway, if full body scans become mandatory at Heathrow those who are sartorially challenged will need to rely on our underwear to prove our lack of terrorist credentials. ‘I’m a lover not a fighter, guv!’

My friend Lucy Bucket (not her real name) places great store by the concept of matching underwear. It’s not so much that you could get hit by a bus, but you could hit it off with someone yummy  – and so, just as our mothers advised – best be prepared for every eventuality.  I’ve been known to bottle great romantic moments because on the night the knickers were just not right! His, not mine I hasten to add. (And if you were wondering, Y-fronts and Calvins needn’t bother to apply!) Conversely, matching underwear may also be to blame for some of the other predicaments I’ve got myself into, but that (ahem) is the subject of another blog entirely.


The Secret Ingredient…

When I was little, my dad, who wasn’t terribly good at DIY made my mom a ‘kitchen island’.  It was a wooden cupboard on wheels (moveable, hence the ‘island’ moniker), with louvre doors and seventies ‘yeah baby’ orange and brown glaze tiles on the top.  It was made with love. It was hideous. It ended up beside the stove and served as a vegetable cupboard-cum-potstand.  In this case the wheels were superfluous because the kitchen island never moved.  But it was loved in return. 

That kitchen island was there on Sunday nights when my father made pancakes.  He was a good – but very messy – chef. He cooked with emotion and lots of utensils! Drove my mom bonkers. She had to wash up!  My dad was also the person who taught me to fling spaghetti at the wall to see if it was done ‘al dente’.  If it sticks, it’s ready!  Yes, that kitchen island was there when he died and we all sat at the kitchen table missing him as small girls in an uncertain world. My mom missed him the most because she loved him best. I think perhaps it was because they both discovered curry together!   It was hard to see that kitchen island and not think of him.

And yet, in her own unassuming way,  the person who taught my sisters and I the meaning of togetherness when we were growing up was my mom.  Sundays in our house were always roast dinner in winter and braais (barbeques) in summer. My mom grew up in a country that could not be described as the culinary capital of the world – though they probably could claim the patent for inventing the potato!  Despite this, she made fantastic homemade pizza, superb sweet and sour chicken and a pretty good curry.  You know, the old fashioned type served with sultanas, chopped tomato and cucumber and dessicated coconut. Yum! Yum!  I often think of those meals! 

Even today, mealtimes are important for my sisters and I.  They are a chance to get friends and loved ones round the table – to share the news of the day, to commiserate, to celebrate, to laugh and perhaps to cry when we remember absent friends and fathers. We all cook with passion…and I must admit, a fair degree of garlic, herbs and other spices. Fresh, of course!  I think for each of us, cooking brings particular pleasure. I’m not a baker (too scientific) but I can make pavlova.  My middle sister does a fab roast pork, and my baby sister has a cracking recipe for apple crumble with Toblerone! It’s our recipe for love – the secret ingredient you will never find in any book, but one that nonetheless makes a meal that is cooked with care and thought, taste great.