Mum’s french toast
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.