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Monday, 30 January 2012

yuk2

Some of F13’s class were on the front page of the local paper last week, beaming quite convincingly over some Haggis they had made in class. One can only assume they'd not yet put fork of same to mouth. What remained of F13’s sat untouched in the fridge awaiting loin girding. I've had haggis once. Never again. It had been badly closed up, the box it came in because F13 himself had closed it, and had splurted and spattered sheep stomach stuff inside his new backpack. Gagging, I’d cleaned it, scrubbing at the gummy zips.

“Why weren’t you in the picture?” I asked, raw of hand.
He shrugged.
“It would have been lovely to have had a picture of you.”
“Why?” he said, “you can see me any time.” A literal child can be a tedious thing.
“I could have sent it to people,” I said, wading further into pathetic land.
“People who want a picture of me already have one,” he said. “Besides, the paper came during lunch time.”
“Ah, so you chose to stuff your face rather than get in the photo?”
“I have to eat –“
“Everyone has to eat. You can eat anytime.”
“I’m a busy man; my lunch takes ages.”

His lunch is barely liftable. I get his point. I do do good lunch, I like to feed my little men up, and sometimes feel a bit Witch to their Hansel and Gretel, but still my children are skinny. They would remain in the cage and I would stay hungry were I in the business of fattening them up for the pot.
But in a week when a smartie sandwich was in the papers, I can be relied upon to be smack-worthily smug about the worthy little pots of olives and chicken rolls, homemade brownies, yoghurts and fruit that are stuffed, holiday-suitcase-ful, into my boys’ lunchboxes.

When I did a stint as a dinner lady at their primary schools (strictly on an opening packets of crisps basis, and saying, “Eat nicely, Benjamin”: no hairnets, no ladles, no twizzlers), there was one family. I rather liked them, a travelling family permanently outgrowing their static caravan, as child after child was born to join the wild straggle of siblings and cousins.
The children were sweeties and so were their lunches. A typical offering comprised a mini packet of sugary cereal, a box of tic-tacs. Maybe a bald piece of steamed dough. “Our” children were not allowed sweets, or chocolate and glared droolingly at the Haribos constituting these children’s meals, the lone slice of toxic pink penis masquerading as meat, the chemical crisps.

I hesitated, but spoke to the Head about it. It was heartbreaking seeing them eat such crap, their building blocks being E numbers and fat.
She made a brusque cutting swipe with her hand. “Racial,” she said, “Can’t do a thing about it. Oh, and that reminds me.” She’d bustle off, and on days such as that would a letter come home from school regarding suitable lunches.
“It has come to my attention,” the Head would megaphone, “that some parents are still sending in grapes unhalved. Choking constitutes a real problem with grapes unless halved. And may I remind parents that as well as operating a strict no nut policy, we have also banned kiwi fruit on health and safety grounds. Your cooperation is appreciated.” I would scan the letter, trawling for spoken, and then unspoken, strictures on supplying boxes of cereal, tubs of tic-tacs and found them missing.

No one wanted the haggis. The fridge door opened, and closed. Evasive action was taken to jiggle it to the back, out of sight, out of mind, to let it rot in quiet until a quiet funeral could be arranged in the bin. I had thought that E might choke it down. He is, when it suits, half Scottish. I was wrong. He evinced minus interest in it and was quite rude.
It served one useful purpose, however, for which much thanks. Food which traditionally might go down badly (fish pie, say) when offered up with a dangling, “Or there’s the haggis…” was temporarily greeted with relieved gusto.
The haggis grew a crust.

The inevitable happened. The dog perked up. She skittered and danced on clattery nails when out it came, eagerly dancing it to her bowl. It had shrunk and sat resentful on its plate but was pounced on with grateful relish by the easily pleased in our midst. She downed it in big, gulping glugs, taking out much of the silver foil too.
She smacked her lips, thrilled, and looked around for more, hoping perhaps even for a box of tic-tacs, a packet of cereal of dubious date, a Haribo. Unconsidered trifles which the fusspots eschew. Giddy days, dog, but not that giddy.

19 comments:

Anita-Clare Field said...

How fantastic, yes so many thoughts of experimental cooking from my siblings lurking in the fridge. Oh and the packed lunches too, We used to get ribbed badly about our neatly cut prawn sandwiches, olives, bread sticks. Yogurts and malt loaf. How very much they were appreciated. Lucky dog with the haggis ( I am of the same persuasion as E) although as I become older I get more squeamish about its contents. May try a vegetarian one! Fantastic piece, thank you

Mac n' Janet said...

I can't imagine eating haggis, I'm too picky an eater, but my husband loves it.
When I taught school I thought the school lunches were disgusting and full of empty calories, few kids brought a lunch from home, but those who did usually had wonderful lunches. I definitely brought mine.

Expat mum said...

Now there's a dinner-time thought: Prepare two meals (oh wait...) and then give them options.
OK, threaten to have prepared two meals, and make the non-existent one much worse than the other so that they'll pick the "right" one. Brilliant!

Fennie said...

Clearly Lolly is Scottish then! (So pleased incidentally, that she has reappeared. I lie awake worrying that her family has paid a sudden visit to the glue factory, whenever she doesn't figure prominently). But if she has eaten haggis - and especially haggis adrift from its sell by date, then clearly all is right with the world though I note she has eaten it all too quickly and I hope the next blog will not report from the white carpet on regurgitation events best left out of family reading. But assuming all is well, then she would doubtless look military smart in a tartan collar, or maybe a little coat that would protect on muddy mornings. I'm thinking with a panel on the side that might carry advertising:
"Have you tried F13's Haggis" it might say, "Too good too miss!" Of course F13 would need a photograph.

Milla said...

Lolly is here, by the skin of her sharp little teeth, Fennie, but as for lending the brute ideas beyond her station as advertising space, the mind boggles.
Indeed Toni, one has to grab from the jaws of haggisy disaster a cheap trick or two.
Hello Mac'n'J, you are clearly most wise, pretty much nothing roaming the earth is as dire as haggis. True, I'm yet to munch on a sheep's eyeball but then again I too am squeamish and most deffo not mad.
Anita, I guess your fantastic cooking now could stem back to decent food then. Am going to hope that that's the case. Great for it to have an end as well as be an end in itself.
As ever, thank you for your comments

elizabethm said...

I love the idea of lolly with a dog sandwich board and f13 starting a food empire. What a combination!

Exmoorjane said...

I remember the torment of the packed lunch...the roll of eye and wistful reminiscence of children with chocolate and plastic cheese in their boxes. But haggis, oh haggis...how I did love haggis (sliced and fried) on a bed of golden savoury rice topped with tomato ketchup. Ah, I'm almost tempted to forego my vegetarianism for a plate of the pudding. Then again, I used to like black pudding too.

Chris Stovell said...

Oh, goodness, I was waiting for the post script when Dog disgraces herself with regurgitated haggis. SO pleased she held it in.

The story about the lunch-boxes was very poignant.

Wally B said...

The food at our little darling's school is inedible. The kids only have 30 minutes to get in, serve themselves, eat, or in most cases smear it over themselves, and then wipe all the remnants into the trash. Take in lunch is the only option unless you want to shorten their little lives. Lolly could do really well at this school. No haggis though

Frances said...

Milla, again I compliment you on those sons of yours. Haggis might be made, but does not need to be eaten. One who made it need not accede to media publicity.

What enters a fridge can emerge and never return to said fridge.

A loyal dog can have hidden talents.

A brilliant writer can charm her readers with follow on posts.

I've almost stopped laughing now, but my lingering smile knows that I've been in grand company.

xo

Shiny said...

Oh, I love it. Haggis - ugh. Thank god for fuss-free-feeding dogs! x

Jake Barton said...

Packed lunches? Luxury. What's wrong with a little deprivation? Character building, never did me any harm, etc...
Brilliant,as usual. Must up my game as you're approaching prolific blogger status. Even so, more please. Lots more. Every day and twice at weekends.

Milla said...

Thank you all for cheering comments.
Elizm, no! the last thing we need is Lolly encouraged into anything apart from unlikely obedience.
Oh, Jane, enough already, you get madder by the day. ;)
Chris, if Lolly had regurgitated, no doubt she'd have thought, "ooh, seconds," and slurped it all up. Nothing if not born with an eye to the main chance.
Wally, I love it. Well, -ish, and am busily packing up dog as we speak.
Frances, you are a star and put everything so beautifully. Always.
Shiny, yup, guessing there had to be an upside. Don't like waste so dog is briefly given a pleased smile.
Jake, let's remember that you write that (to me in sub-ice conditions) from a beach, FGS, with large glass of red in your hamd and doubtless dodgy headwear. Speak not to me of deprivation. And sometimes you have an exhausting amount of character. Says wetly. Mwah.

Kitty said...

Milla! You said penis! Rudey dudey. xxx

Trish @ Mums Gone To... said...

How did I miss this post?
We love haggis in out house. In fact it's my son's favourite meal and my husband's signature dish! He stuffs chicken breasts with haggis mixed with onions fried in whisky: wrapped in bacon and cooked in oven. Seems very odd that this is the same son who I had to coax to eat cheese by hiding it in hula hoops.

Posie said...

Yum, your son's lunch box sounds delicious...how did you persuade him to eat olives though...very impressed. Love his matter of fact no nonsense approach to having his photo taken. Now we eat haggis here and my son, unbelievably, as he is very particularly fussy, loves it.

Bluestocking Mum said...

Good job my youngest can't see contents of your son's lunchbox! lol. Invariably no cooked meats so jam or chocolate bread sandwiches, sliced cucumber and only variable is some days he gets a few mini bread sticks! Can't wait for him to go to 2ndry school and get dinners :P

xx
PS - I love haggis. And Blackpudding Jane. x

Cathy said...

Feeding children. Gah. Another thing I have totally messed up.

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