My granny used to soak the spuds too,
making it easier to peel them later.
Part of the morning’s ritual was topping
their pot with water. Later, after
fowl were fed and tae and bread were ate,
she’d peel them slowly, humming all the while
a medley of Moore’s Almanac songs.
Steeping my potatoes now, as she did,
brings her Four Green Fields down the years to me.
Scaly and read, these Roosters, instead of
her soft Queens; mine tattle of modern machinery;
long scars that I smooth away with a stainless
peeler. I split them with a long, broad knife,
rinse them down and leave them by for dinner.
My parents ran a business together so Sunday was the one day of the week when we would all be together without interruption. My mother was not a natural cook, so the rituals of the kitchen were something she endured rather than enjoyed, but the preparation of the vegetables for Sunday lunch was a ritual of some importance, the soaking of the potatoes signalling the start of the main preparations for the meal, as the potatoes had to be peeled and parboiled, before they could be added to the tin to be roasted alongside the meat. It’s been years since my mother died, but I can still see her hands as she peeled and chopped the vegetables and hear her voice as she sent me to the garden to harvest the herbs for the sauce. Once the preparations were complete we would sit drinking tea as she told me tall tales of her youthful exploits.