Foods that have scared me – No1

Mock Turtle Soup – The 1970’s

I started to look at what this really was but stopped. It just scared me as a child and that’s that, I don’t want to dive further in. Revisiting the horror is not going to help and the idea of all the little Mock Turtles being made into soup still sends a shiver down my spine.

We had  a tortoise ( still have him!) you see, and to me it was tantamount to eating a member of the family (but chewier of course) ‘he’ might become part of a Mock Tortoise soup. Whatever next, cat curry or goldfish and chips? I wasn’t having it.

We didn’t ever have such a thing at home, but when we embarked on our annual trip to a holiday camp somewhere in Devon or the Isle of Wight, there was always a Mock Turtle Soup ‘day’ during the course of our stay. Sometimes we were away with our Cousins Enfield, Baguette also used to pile into the Beetle but the pleasure of having my cousin Curly for company didn’t alleviate the fear of Mock Turtle Massacre.

Maman and dad chose the dining in option to give them a break from domestic chores (rightly so) this meant that there was no where to run to.

I don’t believe a drop of it actually passed my lips, I do remember though, telling Tiddler, my granddad, about my fears and hearing his raucous belly laugh ring out. I also think that if you are going to try to pass off a dish as being something desirable the word ‘mock’ is not the way forward…Lewis Carroll, I apologise…

In order to off set each scary food, I shall counter balance with a happy food memory and as the whole abhorrent mock turtle incident was in the 70’s, as was my childhood, I shall describe Maman’s Sunday tea slice – it is June and the strawberries are at their best.

Sunday tea was my favourite meal as a child – I didn’t have many faves as I was highly fussy. However Sunday tea in the summer would be shellfish, of all types, buttered bread, lettuce and cucumber, spring onions and a lovely cake or dessert to follow. If spending Sunday tea at Elsie the Greek’s house (my nan) as we often did, the tea was slightly different. It consisted of ham, boiled eggs, ‘salid’ (we still call it that) boiled potatoes and bread and butter followed by fondant fancies or her delicious rock cakes… both ‘teas’ still evoke memories of Sunday evenings whenever I smell anything like cucumber or crab. In winter, Sunday tea always included crumpets, hot and thickly buttered…

Back to the tale……..

We were regularly loaded into the VW Beetle and carted off to the ‘pick your own’ farms at the weekend. As this would have been during the ‘heat-wave’ summers of my early childhood, they were sunny, happy days filled with delicious juicy berries plus friends and family.

To be fair, I just ate the strawberries, I didn’t really contribute to Maman’s quest to fill her new, and long awaited ‘deep freeze’. If you’ve got a picture of Tom, Barb, Margot and Jerry you are on entirely the wrong track…

On one occasion, Elsie the Greek was with us and dad told her that although they only charged you for the strawberries in your basket when you were done picking, they also secretly weighed you as you arrived and then again when you were leaving so as to charge you for those you had eaten….well she may not have believed it but it took me a while…

I haven’t got a picture of the strawberry slice to post here but I have the most vivid picture inside my head – of the red and white loveliness of it, so that is, in fact, where it will have to stay.

Maman’s Sunday Tea slice

2 pieces of shop bought, good quality butter puff pastry both cut to the same size, approximately 25 cm by 15cm. Place them onto a non-stick baking sheet and sprinkle with a little sugar. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until they are cooked through and risen nicely.

Whip some double cream until fluffy and quite stiff.

Wash and hull a punnet of strawberries, slice most of the strawberries into 3, reserving 6 whole ones for decoration.

Mix the sliced strawberries gently through the cream.

Once the pastry has cooled, pile the cream and strawberry mixture onto the first sheet. Make up some icing with icing sugar and water. This should be on the runny side, then spread the icing over the second sheet before sitting it on top of the strawberries and cream.

Place the whole strawberries in a line down the centre of the slice. Ta daa…..slice into portions, I think best with a bread saw, eat immediately, do not delay.

(No Mock Turtles were harmed during the making of this blog).

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