Jeremy Lee’s taste of home
When I was growing up, I didn’t have school lunches. Instead I’d go to my grandmother’s house in Dundee every day. Her name was Jessie Dorothy Stewart and she was a very canny Scotswoman, with a small but good repertoire of dishes that we all loved: amazing mince and tatties, with beautiful cloud-like suet dumplings (which I’ve never been able to replicate), a wonderful treacle dumpling – a suet pudding we were all mad for – and her lentil soup, which similarly we were all passionate about. My mother got the recipe from her and made it too, and now I make it.
My grandmother was tragically widowed when I was very young. I was one of four, so she played a huge part in raising us; having lots of grandchildren to look after was very important to her.
She and my mother brought us up proper. She had wonderful relationships with all of us, collectively and singularly. She was generous and kind, naughty and funny; a great talker. She knew the most marvellous stories about extraordinary characters. We were lucky to have her.
My grandmother’s lentil soup is a very dour Scottish dish: plain, good, ordinary, fine cooking. Just the thing to warm the soul and heart and belly. Something for cold days – not something you have at the height of summer. That said, when the sun goes down in Scotland, even in the summer, a hot broth is just what you want. The weather is pretty changeable on this temperate island of ours …
It was the first dish that made me aware of cooking being about hearth and home. When it was cooking – it took ages on the hob – it filled the house with a wonderful embracing