I challenged my writing group last time to write creatively about something to do with food… it could be a restaurant review, a recipe, a description, a memory, a story involving some aspect of eating such as a picnic, a disastrous dinner date, an unexpected ingredient in a foreign dish…
We are fortunate to have seven of us in the group plus me, and because we can run out of time, I don’t usually read anything… I did have something to hand but as I predicted we were already running fifteen minutes late so I kept my piece for another time. However, I had something from one of my novels ready, just in case. This is from my first novel about Thomas Radwinter and his search for his family history. His brother Paul has invited him over to meet his new fiancée, Ruthie::
“Tommy, come and meet Ruthie! I’ve been telling her all about you!” and he pulled me through to the kitchen.
“All about me? Well, that didn’t take long,” and I gave my nervous laugh. I know it’s a nervous laugh; someone at work was recording someone’s leaving speech and in the background was this tittering, which I belated realised was me laughing.
A tall woman rose from sitting at the kitchen table and came to me with her arms out to embrace me. Like Paul, her hair was white, but she was obviously younger than him… she was slim, but not too slim… and she was… well, she was just lovely. My heart gave a little lurch as she hugged me and kissed my cheek on the same place Paul had.
“Thomas, I’ve heard so much about you! How nice to meet you at last!” and she did look as if she meant it.
“Hello, Ruthie, I’m afraid Paul has been remiss, he’s told me nothing about you,” I replied and Paul laughed and clapped me on the shoulder and asked what I was drinking.
“Let’s stay in the kitchen, Paul,” Ruthie said. “I want to keep an eye on that gingerbread.” The kitchen was full of delicious smells, the caramel that I’d smelt in the hall and now the spiciness of ginger and molasses.
“Something smells good,” I said and blushed as I heard the nervous laugh escape.
“You will be my guinea pig,” and Ruthie sat me down and put a plate in front of me onto which she put a millionaire’s shortbread.
The door opened and Django came in, Paul’s eldest son; he was christened David Django but as soon as he was old enough he insisted on being Django. No doubt it was his guitar I’d heard.
He greeted me and then swooped on the rack of shortbread that was on the side.
“Can I have one, Ruthie,” he asked and I noticed how pleasant and casual he was towards her. If she was to be his step-mum he obviously didn’t mind.
“Yes, and call your brothers, I want to know what you think. It’s a new recipe, strawberry millionaire’s shortbread,” she said.
It was like eating heaven; still slightly warm, the short bread was soft and melting with pieces of strawberry, the caramel was not too sickly with a faint trace of orange somewhere in the gooey sweetness, and the dark chocolate was not too bitter with a bit of a zing…
“Is there ginger in the chocolate?” I asked indistinctly. “There’s something… some flavour…”
“Well done you for spotting it, you’ve obviously got the Radwinter palate!”
Django, his mouth full was at the door yelling for his brothers.
“Ruthie! Cake!” he yelled and before long Luke and Otis bounded into the kitchen. They had all grown and I felt overwhelmed by big cheerful youths, all eagerly scoffing the strawberry millionaire’s shortcake and shovelling more onto my plate too.
Paul stood back, arms folded, the usual glass of wine in his hand, looking like nothing more than an enormous, very pleased, and almost smug silver lion.
Rebecca was home when I got in; I’d thought she was going to be out late, so I had sat in Paul’s warm and comfy kitchen, eating too many pieces of shortbread and then too many more pieces of ginger bread which had different spices in… and chilli… and when I asked Ruthie whether she liked hot things, everyone laughed and I blundered on saying I meant did she like hot stuff, then there was even more laughter, but it was at what I’d said, not at me. Paul said I was a star and his favourite brother, news to me, but I made some facetious remark in response which was greeted by more hilarity and Paul poured more wine… It was a wonderful evening, one of the best in my life I think.
If you haven’t read my story about Thomas Radwinter and his genealogical research, here is a link: