HOW DO YOU LIKE THE INTRODUCTION TO MY BOOK?

RICE PUDDING IN A DUVET

By Heather Gartside

An episodic novel spiced by recipes, and a pinch of sea salt.

Funny, comforting, quirky, sometimes disturbing reflections and images of thirty well-lived years in the life of our narrator, Wendy Witherspoon. A tried and tested recipe becomes like a well-known song, that takes Wendy refreshingly back to a certain time and place. Through tuning-in by reading, then cooking the chapters we can travel with our taste-buds and imaginations, through time and around the world with Wendy. Each chapter of the book adds different ingredients at different periods of time. The combination of all these ingredients is the lip-smacking feast that is our irrepressible heroine, Wendy Witherspoon.

Rice Pudding in a Duvet is a collection of stories, all with FOOD as their inspiration. The categories that it comes under is fiction, humour and food fiction.

The idea for the book came from my combined loves of writing, travelling and cooking. After several years of doing all the above (and a lot on the side) it’s a coming-together of all these ingredients. Every recipe is delicious and is something that I am as proud of as the writing.

I’d like to think that the title of the book: RICE PUDDING IN A DUVET could conjure up something intriguing and sexy when the reader sees the name. The fact that cooking food in a duvet is a great idea, is environmentally friendly and based in Scandinavia (like me) is an added bonus.

Bon appétit!

Heather Gartside. November 12, 2013

RICE PUDDING IN A DUVET

MENU / TABLE OF CONTENTS:

  1. TEA WITH GINGER
  2. FRENCH DRESSING
  3. PASTA PEREGRINE
  4. THE GREAT AUSTRALIAN BITE
  5. BETTY BEEF
  6. SKILLINGSBOLLER
  7. NUT BRITTLE
  8. ELDERFLOWER
  9. GRATIN DAUPHINOIS
  10. FRENCH TART
  11. FLAPJACK
  12. BURNT RICE
  13. SPINACH, WALNUT AND OLIVE OIL
  14. THE ARCHAELOGY OF APPLE PIE
  15. STONE GROUND
  16. HOT DATES
  17. A PIECE OF CAKE
  18. MUMMY CHICKEN
  19. MA’S PANCAKES
  20. SHORTBREAD
  21. RICE PUDDING IN A DUVET

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

TEA WITH GINGER

 

3 October

1976 1980 1982 1986 1990 1992 1994 1997 1999 2004 2006 2008 2010 2013

Jo moved into the top floor flat on Winchcombe Street just after Christmas in 1983. She was a fellow art student whose lightning sarcasm, sharp style and worldly ways had initially unsettled me. Jo was from Liverpool. She didn’t make chitchat. She made very funny, astute and pointed remarks at all things that got in her way. She hated Cheltenham and all the upper class twits who lived there; the ridiculousness of the “ruling classes”, who seemed to think that your old school was a really good thing to mention when you were a grown-up. We became inseparable outsiders and battled against the establishment. We read her dictionary of quotations by candlelight, and felt that we were the first ones in fifty years to roar with laughter at discoveries of such golden nuggets as:

“I should have been a pair of ragged claws,

Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.”

and

“I grow old… I grow old…

I shall wear the bottom of my trousers rolled.”

Jo introduced me to crackly recordings of Edith Sitwell. Together we slipped back in time to our own tailor-made era. We got drunk at parties and liked to dance like whirling dervishes. Jo danced very well, her dark hair coloured all shades of red, ginger and orange streaming behind her in a blur. She was heavily into the Liverpool music scene. She took me there once and I began to clearly see why all the pompous, lazy and landed ones of the soft south of England were beyond her comprehension. The grit, talent and wit of the young people of decaying Liverpool could smash away the spoilt southerners in an instant, if only they had the chance.

Her own wit and artistic talent were outstanding, but frequent bouts of amazing sloth tended to extinguish the flow at crucial moments.  In between our brilliant to downright sickly competitiveness at college, we were bonded by our dressing-up antics. We’d photograph each other doing outlandish things in bizarre settings and thoroughly enjoying shocking people. Sometimes it felt as if we were two half-drowned women finding a bit of companionship and safety in our tall-masted student house. Our dark humour and irreverence was splendid and brave, but looking back I can see neither of us could have guessed what dark things lay waiting for us in the shallows.

Our fancy dress antics were inspired. We dressed as young homosexual men, with tight ripped jeans and huge bulges made from socks stuck down the front. Sported sets of keys, beard stubble shaded on our peachy skin and dark eyebrows nearly meeting in the middle.  At other events we would turn up as old ladies clutching Queen Elizabeth-style 1950s handbags. Short curled grey wigs on our heads, home-knit cardies, bifocals, thick American tan tights and bowling shoes. It was the extent and quality of the jumble sales in posh Cheltenham at that time that made our wardrobes so versatile. Often you could spot an ancient retired Major from India. Cheltenham was favoured as a final watering hole for the Raj and returning displaced aristocrats and civil servants from the dead Empire. Perhaps because of its steamy micro climate at the foot of the Cotswold escarpment, and its veneer of genteel manners and exquisite buildings hiding its blowsy Regency past? But their exotic legacy was our bounty. We passed-by stuffed elephant foot stools and headed for hatboxes, steamer trunks and the battered hand luggage of a golden age. The most prized sporting tattered boarding tickets and printed glimpses of hotels in Biarritz, Baden Baden and Singapore. Men’s dress jackets, military dress jackets, Vionnet bias cut gowns, plumed hats and voluminous white nightgowns made from cotton that my ancestors in Lancashire must have spun as children. We pushed Tesco shopping trolleys down wet autumnal roads at twilight; laden with history, adventure, allure and bereavement. Yet despite all the grand historical characters we could have played Jo’s favourite attire was to be an elf and mine an alien.

There isn’t much of a recipe to pass on from this era. Food wasn’t on the table; it got in the way of the drinking. One thing that Jo and I did enjoy enormously was a nice pot of tea together after a hard day of being eccentric. This recipe entered my repertoire after we frequented a sweet little tea shop in Cheltenham. They served it there, but it tended to be too weak and we had to smuggle our own shortbread biscuits in to eat to keep costs down. The owner was so nice though. He always kept a straight face when we came in dressed as old ladies.

Tea with Ginger:

Warm a teapot with freshly boiled water, made from water from the cold tap. The old adage goes “one teaspoon for you, one for me and one for the pot”, but that must have come from a 1940s tea rationing campaign. I tend to whack in about two dessertspoonfuls of loose-leaf Ceylon tea. Peel and finely slice a 5 cm chunk of fresh ginger. Fill up with boiling water and let it stand for 4 to 5 minutes. I like it with a dash of milk first and then the tea, topping it up with fresh tea at regular intervals as I am not posh at all. I never strain the tea leaves as it’s pleasant to imagine that you can read things into them.

4 thoughts on “HOW DO YOU LIKE THE INTRODUCTION TO MY BOOK?

  1. I am thrilled that your elf friend was named Jo. Jo’s are generally fun, creative and champion drinkers. They also tend to gravitate towards Heathers. Loved reading this chapter, your prose really brings to life the images you describe. Wish I’d seen you dressed as an old lady. Lots of love, Jo (not that one)

    Like

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