Mum’s french toast

The Guardian - Family - - Family | Family Life - Zoe Lums­den


Stale bread But­ter

Cut thick slices of white bread and grill one side. But­ter the “raw” side. Toast, but­ter side up, till golden, salty and crunchy, like fried bread.

We thrived on field-lib­er­ated cauliflow­ers, day-old bread and cakes – kept by a friend of my mother’s at the bak­ery – and “cat’s pieces” fish­cakes. Mum’s french toast was a fre­quent treat. Times were hard in late-60s Broad­stairs and, un­able to af­ford the com­mute, Dad had a stu­dio flat in Lon­don from Mon­day to Fri­day. He lived on bar­be­cue beans and cheese past its best.

Mum had three of us un­der 10 and three man­ual jobs, look­ing af­ter “old folks” and clean­ing. But she de­lighted us with hand-drawn quiz games, trea­sure hunts and a fab­u­lous dress­ing-up box. We would roam the streets and beaches bare­foot and go home when hun­gry. I fell off the jetty as a tod­dler and was de­liv­ered home, dried and with a sil­ver six­pence from the har­bour­mas­ter. I would get one pack of crisps, 2½p, when I col­lected Mum from The Home af­ter Brown­ies, once a week.

Years later, when I was 20 and cook­ing pop stars’ break­fasts at a stu­dio in Lon­don in 1984, the Amer­i­can band Manowar asked for french toast. Luck­ily, they were hun­gover, avoid­ing too much fuss when pre­sented with some­thing that was noth­ing like the ex­pected eggy bread. We all miss my dear, kind, strong mum, who died on the ju­bilee week­end in 2012. Now 87, Dad is still par­tial to old cheese.

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