Saturday, 19 March 2011


I remember a time when I was small and the world was very big. I was feeling hungry and opened one of Mum's cupboards in search of something to fill the void. What I discovered was a huge hoard of tins. On closer inspection, they were revealed to be of just two types, spam and curried baked beans.

These were very familiar to me as the key ingredients of my mother's 'signature dish' which we commonly referred to as Letts' Lash-Up. This item was always cooked in a huge pan and contained a large quantity of the aforesaid spam and curried beans with the addition of an ever-changing list of other ingredients playing a supporting role.

My mother, bless her, had a great many endearing qualities and was skilled in multifarious tasks none of which included cooking. As we sat expectantly at the dinner table and she carried steaming plates of lash-up towards us this was always a time of great mirth. My father would offer something like "Oh I do enjoy these regular voyages of culinary discovery". During the meal my brother and I would, while chomping, come out with such gems as "So that's what happened to that cricket ball we lost".

My Mum always put up with it all with good humour and would often retort "Sometimes, I feel I'm casting my pearls before swine". The meaning of the phrase is self-evident but since my Mother didn't have a religious bone in her body, I was somewhat surprised to find it to be biblical (Matthew 7-6 "Nether caste ye youre pearles before swyne"). It is perhaps less surprising that Letts' Lash-up might have existed almost 2000 years ago.

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