My food memories: ‘Staying out playing ’til dinner time on Bovril sandwiches, sugar sandwiches, apple sandwiches, Salad Cream sandwiches’

The Irish Times: We Love Food – Emma Somers, features department

Tea and cards: Emma Somers (in white) with her grandfather, Michael Somers, and her cousins Lisa and Tom O’Riordan. Photograph: Mary Somers

Tea and cards: Emma Somers (in white) with her grandfather, Michael Somers, and her cousins Lisa and Tom O’Riordan. Photograph: Mary Somers

Mon, Nov 18, 2013, 12:26

My earliest food memory involves tea (that was a food in the 1980s), namely drinking it out of a bottle. This is closely followed by Nice biscuits and Miwadi at playschool.

Most of my earliest memories, in fact, seem to have something to do with food. Picking strawberries with my Granddad – his hands could hold more than any bowl. Mixing scones with my Granny. The dawn fry-up before my uncles went off to work. Picking blackberries with Aunt Mary, trying to understand her Listowel accent. “Arru alright, girl?”

My first adventures were fuelled by food, too. Granddad breaking me out of my bedroom window, where I’d been sent for not eating my dinner. Robbing apples from Mr Dunne’s orchard, until he took the joy out of it with his blessing. Staying out playing ’til dinner time on Bovril sandwiches, sugar sandwiches, apple sandwiches, Salad Cream sandwiches. A trip to Coogans for penny sweets.

At school it was slabs of scones and lukewarm milk. And ham and coleslaw sandwiches every lunch time, for a decade.

The weekend was a different story. A cup of hot jelly with my Granny - a Saturday-night ritual while the rest were at the pub. Divvying up Emerald Toffees among my cousins after Granddad got home from bingo.

A guggied egg on Sunday morning, and tea that evening with garden lettuce, baked ham and batch bread before settling down for a card game.

As my Granny often told me (and she meant it as a compliment, mind), I’ve a great appetite. But to my dying day, I know I’ll never taste anything as good as my Granddad’s gooseberries or a snaffled few spuds with my Granny before the dinner.

I’ll leave you with her wise words: Once you’ve eggs in the press, you always have a meal.

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