I made roast chicken with roast potatoes for dinner tonight.
I did not eat this dinner made by my mother. It's not her recipe. She did not teach me to make it.
My other mother did.
|Julia and the Walker boys|
Julia was our domestic worker while we were growing up in South Africa. She worked for friends, the Walkers, before they left to live in New Zealand and then she came to rule our universe!
She was a loving yet formidable presence in our lives. My parents gave her full authority to parent us. She refused to clean our rooms if they were messy, she told us off if we were rude or badly behaved and she told on us if we did something "verboten". She had the "evil eye" look that could leave you quaking in your shoes but also a large pillowy bosom that was the perfect place to lay your head when a hug was needed.
Julia cooked our evening meal most nights. She wasn't Julia Childs but she had some meals that she just rocked and one of them was roast chicken with roast potatoes. She also knew it was my absolute favourite.
When I got married she bought me a gift.
It was a roasting pan.
My parents moved to Canada two weeks after my wedding and Julia had moved on to work for another family but I stayed in close contact with her. She went to church every Thursday afternoon which was traditionally Domestic Workers afternoon off (and a boon to local restaurants) and I used to meet her after the service to chat and catch up. I had her over to Allan and my apartment for dinner one night.
I was terrified.
And she refused to help me. She pulled up a chair to the kitchen table and watched me. It was more nerve-wracking than my final Home Economics exam. And more fool I I had decided to make.....roast chicken and roast potatoes with the roasting pan she gave me. She had a ball watching me race around the kitchen sweating while she drank her rooibos tea.
She was gracious about the meal......it was nowhere near as good as hers.
She is in Heaven now and I hope she saw that I have improved in my chicken dinner skills tonight.
And I look forward to a pillowy hug in Heaven one day.
Thanks for everything JuJu. I miss you.