When my mother recently passed away, because we are a scattered family, one of my younger brothers had the great idea of setting up a private Facebook page for the immediate family to talk in – mainly about funeral arrangements but also just in general.
One topic, which I inadvertently started, was about her cooking. It’s fair to say, and she would agree, that cooking was not her forte. She was able to feed us but it was never exciting. That’s me being respectful.
So we were joking amongst ourselves about that when the subject of her two most ‘original’ recipes came up and we each tried to remember exactly what was in them. Here, to the best of our ability, is what we agreed on.
Pasta. This had to be Marshall’s macaroni, a Scottish speciality and the only pasta I ever ate until I was about 18 years-old, apart from tinned spaghetti, usually in the form of spaghetti hoops.
Bacon. This would normally be unsmoked Ayrshire back bacon. Not American bacon!
Onions. White onions. We didn’t know they came in other colours.
Tomatoes. Scottish tomatoes are surprisingly good.
Salt. Common iodised table salt. You know. Natural salt. None of your fancy sea flavoured salt nonsense!
Pepper. Black pre-ground and stale.
Boil pasta according to pack instructions. Or a bit longer if you get distracted. Drain.
Cut bacon into pieces. Chop onion approximately finely. Chop tomatoes into eighths. Fry bacon and vegetables. When ready add drained pasta and mix. Apply seasoning if you remember. Even if you remember, under season.
During WWII, around 17,000 Polish soldiers were stationed in Scotland, first temporarily in the border areas but later in east Scotland where my mother lived. (Her elder sister married one of them). Family lore has it (from my mother) that she learned this recipe from one or more of those soldiers.
I’m fairly certain that there was little if anything Polish about it, but suppose its possible it was those soldiers’ attempt to recreate something from home without really knowing the recipe and having to use whatever they could find in the way of ingredients.
If anyone here is Polish, of Polish descent or just knows more about Polish food than I do knows of any Polish dish that this could even vaguely resemble, I’d love to know. It was memorably distinctive - bright purple. I'm sure it glowed in the dark.
Hard boiled eggs
Pickled beetroot (store bought and pickled in malt vinegar)
Heinz Tomato Ketchup
Brown Sauce, preferably HP Sauce.
Chop all the ingredients except the ketchup and brown sauce into small pieces and mix together.
Mix ketchup and brown sauce in a 50:50 ratio, and fold into the other ingredients. If too dry, add a little of the beetroot pickling liquid.
Father's 'recipe' coming up next.