It is all in the delivery
Why don’t all my relatives live in the same street as me? How I dread transporting hot food offerings to family gatherings across the harbour bridge, with its up and then down, or down the tight corkscrew exit off the motorway at the port.
Yesterday Harry, aged five, had a special birthday. My large dish of lemon slice, with a crunchy top and gooey centre, was a little too wobbly but there was no time to cook it more. I wrapped it in tea towels and put the dish onto a wooden tray that has four stout sides. I couldn’t do without this tray and am forever leaving it behind after a food transportation odyssey.
I wanted the hot bundle at my feet, where I could steady it when we went down then up Newton Gully and then around that sharp corner onto the north-western motorway. My son Robert placed it in the boot and I had to agree that, for safety reasons, a hot lemon dessert shouldn’t be where the passengers are. I sat in the back seat next to one-year-old Tane. He was reading a board book about diggers. It was upside down. What state would the dessert be in when we opened the boot? Upside down? I worried all the way to the lifestyle block where Harry and his family live. Maybe I should have just made cookies.
Oh no, I’d forgotten the gravel road at journey’s end. Kids were jumping on a hired bouncy castle on the
front lawn. I looked at them, but all I saw was my lemon slice bouncing up and down. Robert did a uey into and out of a drainage ditch and parked. No food could withstand that jolt.
We opened the boot. The dessert was in the same place it was in when Robert stowed it. A nephew carried it into the house and handed it to someone in the kitchen, who yelled, “Wow! That’s hot!” and dropped it.
Welcome to the gravel-road-caterers’ delivery club. Now, having driven all those corners and dips in the road with your warm lemon slice in the boot, you will understand what I’ve been wittering on about all these years.
You can tell when a country cook is carrying a culinary creation. The car is driven with unusual care by a harassed-looking bloke; beside him sits an anxious woman clutching her masterpiece. The car weaves slowly around every pothole and corners are negotiated at the speed of a stoned snail.
The only food I’ve delivered lately has been the shearers’ lunch. I thought, when we left Double Tops, that I’d left shearers’ catering behind me. I didn’t reckon on a thousand store lambs that needed shearing and three shearers and two shed hands to cater for. Because we are renting off-farm while our new house is being built, I had to take lunch to the shearers rather than have them come to me.
The first day we shore I thought, mmm, a packed lunch would be the practical solution. I packed a warm bacon, sausage and egg pie, home-baked bread rolls filled with ham and salad, caramel slice and new season’s gala apples. I felt well pleased as I delivered my picnic box along with the makings for tea and coffee. My picnic box was not universally popular. A visiting shearer complained – said he couldn’t shear on food like that; said he wanted “proper hot food”.
I haven’t had such a complaint since 1976, when I served spaghetti bolognaise and one of the blade shearers snarled, “I’m not eating that *&##*! crap”.
The day we finished shearing the lambs, I made “proper hot food” and drove to the shed loaded down with plates, knives, forks, lasagne, mixed vegetables, a cottage loaf, butter, raspberry jam, fruit and all the necessaries for tea and coffee. Oh, the lengths a woman will go to when her cooking is criticised!