Archive | October 11, 2012

In Memory of my German Opapa

Or: How to make a child eat spinach

When I was little, we lived in a small house on my Grandfathers land – their house was at the front of the property on street level and ours a little bit set back.

The huge (or so it seemed to me then) kitchen had a very large window from where one could see most of the garden. And as my mother told me, substantiated by bouts of memory flashes on my part, this window was a major attraction to me and at times the source of great frustration to her. Like most children I too welcomed just anything to distract my mind and gave me good enough reasons for not doing my school home-work.

And why? Opa (german for ‘grandfather’) kept a few cages of beautiful rabbits (Kaninchen), white, black and so very soft and cuddly. Their antics amused me far more than boring homework – who cannot understand this. Mutti did not, Opapa did, typical.

In the middle of the lawn stood this enormous walnut tree – its branches weight down with an abundance of nuts, year after year and a welcomed food paradise for those little red furry creatures – our beloved squirrels. (Where today can you see actually red ones – not in our garden in England nor in the beautiful parks of London).

The third major attraction (or should I write ‘distraction’?) for me was the Bee-Hives. Opapa even had a little outfit made for me specially, so that I could ‘help’ him with his bees, gathering honey etc. I was never ever scared then, but, today… I see bees and I run a mile!

The rest of the garden had flowers, shrubs, fruit-trees, potatoes, vegetable patches especially spinach (everybody said ‘the child needs to eat plenty of iron’), the lot.

But needless to say, again like most children, I did not particularly enjoy a plate of spinach, however it was prepared until the day my grandmother decided to mix finely crushed wall-nuts to the spinach. That apparently was the day which made me love, yes love, this vegetable for the rest of my life.

I had more or less forgotten about this until a few days ago, when I received a telephone call from my favourite ‘Ashis-Supermercato’ informing me of the arrival of my wall-nuts which I had especially ordered for some Christmas baking. And because I had just bought a bunch of “Pallak” (like spinach) I wanted to make use of those items.

I just went ahead from memory and made some modifications. I suggest you just go ahead and use your cooking experience and eye-measurements this time. I too sometimes just use “a bit of this and a bit of that”– I hope you will like it. But what do I call this? OK – why not…….

                            Opapa’s nutty sauce

A big handful of Spinach, well washed and hand-shredded

Some Olive Oil (depends how liquid you like your sauce)

3 Garlic cloves, peeled

A big handful of shelled walnut pieces

2 or more Tbsp of Lemon juice

A splash or more of Tabasco Sauce

A pinch of nutmeg

Salt to taste

Some grated Cheddar- or Romano cheese

Put everything into your Mixi and pulse the ingredients a few times. You want your Sauce nice and smooth in the end. If this appears too thick for your taste, just add a few drops of hot water at a time.

Of course in my Grandmother’s kitchen we did not have pasta then. But here in our home I tried various different pasta shapes and in the end I found the simple spaghetti best for our liking.

Guten Appetit, Carina

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