What a different world


Mum's cornbread story

I don't think that there is enough appreciation in the world for that little piece of technology called Skype (luckily I am not posting this on the day it globally went down). My parents not only bought a laptop few years ago and learned how to use Skype at the age of 74 but got so attached that my Mum would give up her entire house before she would let go of that small box that is neatly stored in the corner of their bedroom. It prolongs my life, she often says.
We rendezvous every morning before the day unfolds, and again in the evening, sometimes just to say good night, sometimes to chat over a Skype coffee. She prefers the evenings.. loves my daily reports of who, what, when and where...always asking me questions and secretly looks over my shoulder hoping to catch a detail on the table behind me or a glimpse of what is going on in the kitchen. And  there is no way that I can bake something and not show it to her first, Mum sees it first, the Nikon second.

When I showed her this ancient cornbread made with cornflour and hot water, the words started pouring out :

"What a different world! - my mother used to wrap me up in a blanket at 3 o'clock in the morning and take me with her to queue up at the Red Cross point, for a few slices of that bread after the war. I used to hate it. I longed for a white loaf, we called Somun (Turkish) that smelt divine and was such a rarity that the few times we magically got it, we would pretend that we were eating some kind of precious delicate cheese and take a bite of our regular bread and then a small bite of Somun together.
Some time later, after the war, when we had actual flour, mainly wholemeal, which was mixed with cornflour, my grandmother used to bake bread one or twice a week with wild yeast.
When school began I had a classmate from a very privileged background that would come to visit and play with me from time to time. She looked like an angel, blond and very thin, picky about what she eats... but one day, she was hungry. My grandmother tore off a piece of that bread, spread some lard over it and sprinkled it with salt and ground paprika. Apparently, my friend hadn't had such a good snack in a long time. Her mum was first astonished that she ate outside of the house at all, but even more that she kept talking about it, so she asked me what sort of bread her daughter had. To show her, my mother baked a loaf, wrapped it nicely in a clean, starched-then-ironed linen cloth and sent it  to their house - Do you remember how Nana used to make the starch with flour?-  Anyway, to say thank you, my friend's mum would send a warm white bread loaf in return.  I can still smell it.. when I close my eyes.

And you, sitting in the middle of London having almost every possible bread of the world at your disposal are blogging about this bread? What a different world! "

What a different world Cornbread

200 g cornflour or polenta
100 -150 ml hot water
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp oil
100 g sweet corn from can (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180 C and  place a 24 cm round cake mould, or a deep baking dish of your choice to get hot
Put the cornflour, salt and sugar in a bowl and combine well, then start adding hot water until you get a bit runny but still compact almost thick paste looking dough. Stir the sweet corn in (if using and pour into the baking tray. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until it gets golden brown on the top. Do the toothpick check if you are not sure.

It can be served warm or cold and agrees very well with feta cheese and pickles.

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