Saturday, 23 March 2013

Strawberry milkshake

Packets of Tunnocks Caramel Wafers; tins of Condensed Milk; and bottles of Strawberry Crush. These were things that my parents used to buy at Sainsbury's when we were all younger - but they were not, as might be expected, intended for my brother and I. They were for my father. My brother and I would, naturally, help ourselves to the odd caramel wafer. And, on occasion, the odd milkshake.

My father once found me in the kitchen mixing Strawberry Crush and milk and immediately took over at the brown work surface. Tipping double cream into a blender, adding the mixture I had prepared earlier, he skilfully blended all the ingredients together, giving a running commentary: "Now, I whipped the cream before adding it". Finally, he presented the result to me in a tall glass. "I think you'll find that's pretty special."

Many years later, I was thousands of miles away, in Madras as it was then called. A short walk along the Poonemallee High Road from the school where I was teaching and living, was a restaurant called the Gouri Shankar. Sometimes, instead of food cooked by the Ayah, we would each receive a plate of noodles or fried rice brought in from the restaurant. My high ideals - before arriving in India, I wouldn't have contemplated the notion of being served with special, costly food at the school's expense - were abandoned. The noodles, in particular, were delicious. Shona and Tory were the other volunteers. Towards the end of our time at the school, possibly a little impatient with the restrictions, we would sometimes venture out in the evening and head to the Gouri Shankar. It wasn't quite the pub that Tory longed for but it was atmospherically dark, chillingly air-conditioned and the noodles, as I say, were delectable. Plus they did rather good strawberry milkshakes. I had one on my nineteenth birthday. Not quite as good as the one my father made.

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