OF ASPARAGUS AND TARTAN TREWS

Dear Amelia,
Your Mum tells me you’re terrified of tulle.
She discovered this when she and your Aunty Kaitlyn had to sit on your chest to get you into this pink tulle skirt.
It comes as no surprise to Nanna, this tulle phobia. I suspect it’s genetic.
When I was a little girl in the 1950s I was terrified of net petticoats, which were designed to make your skirts stick out and were the absolute pits to wear.


Here’s a picture of Nanna wearing a net petticoat under her dress when she was four years old.
It was taken in Yorkshire in 1957 when I was a flower girl at the wedding of my Aunty Cathy and Uncle John.
It’s clear from the look on my face that I want to punch someone in the throat.


Later on at the wedding reception, I got into trouble for chewing the thumb out of one of my white voile gloves.
White voile gloves on a four-year-old.
What were they thinking of for God’s sake?
Unfortunately, abusing children via the vagaries of fashion is a centuries-old tradition that continues to this day. Check out Kingston Rossdale if you don’t believe me.

Gwen Stefani’s son, Kingston Rossdale.

Unlike Kingston, Nanna was an anxious child and lived in absolute fear of being forced to wear a tartan skirt with a big safety pin in the front.


Or worse: tartan trews.

I couldn’t find any pictures of little girls from the 1950s wearing tartan trews, presumably because they all died of embarrassment before the age of 10 (except for this lady, who I suspect is either blind or doesn’t own a full-length mirror).

You are actually a very lucky girl because if, like Nanna, you had been a baby in the 1950s you would’ve looked like this.


Then later on, if your Mum was a prolific knitter like my Mum was, you would have had enough hand-knitted cardigans to cover the Lake District when they were laid end to end.


Your Mum would’ve looked like this.


Your Dad would’ve looked like this.


And Nanna would’ve looked like this.


There’s no picture of what your Grandpa would’ve looked like because, basically, he would’ve taken one look at Nanna and run away.
I found these old knitting patterns last week when I was doing some spring cleaning.
Then, because Nanna thrives on danger, she rewarded her de-cluttered, post-op self by hopping into the car a week earlier than she was supposed to and driving to the shops.
The upshot was a big bundle of asparagus, which your Grandpa and I ate two nights in a row because it was so delicious and joys-of-spring-like.
Here is one of the ways I used it.
The recipe is years old – I got it from the chef at the Red Herring restaurant in Fremantle when I was editor of The West Australian’s weekly food lift-out.
It’s great as a meal on its own if you want something light, or served with steak, schnitzel or fish if you want something more filling.
The Roma tomatoes in Woolies were crap (and $9.98 a kilo for crying out loud) so I used big vine-ripened tomatoes and quartered them.
They don’t look as pretty as Romas but that’s the price you pay for eating things out of season.

BABY SPINACH AND PANCETTA SALAD

Serves 4-6

12 slices pancetta
6 Roma tomatoes, halved
olive oil
cracked black pepper
200g baby spinach leaves
200g fresh asparagus
½ cup parmesan cheese shavings
Dressing
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup basil leaves, shredded
2 tsp brown sugar

Preheat oven to 180C.
Place the pancetta and tomatoes, cut side up, on a baking dish and sprinkle with olive oil and pepper.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the pancetta is crisp and the tomatoes are soft but still hold their shape.
Put the asparagus into a saucepan of boiling water and cook for 30 seconds. Allow them to cool.
Arrange the spinach leaves and asparagus on serving plates or a large platter.
Top with pancetta, tomatoes and parmesan cheese.
To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake until sugar is dissolved.
Pour over the salad.
Note: I like to crumble the pancetta over the salad because it’s so crispy it breaks up anyway.
I also leave the basil leaves whole and mix them with the spinach leaves rather than including them in the dressing.

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4 Comments on “OF ASPARAGUS AND TARTAN TREWS”

  1. Davinia says:

    Along with net petticoats were rope ones. Remember them? I remember smuggling mine to infant school in my school bag and then wearing it under my box pleat uniform…..now there was a strange fashion statement…..I was only five. Unlike you Michelle I would have been in heaven had my mum given me kllt with a big safety pin, I’m sure I would have worn it over my jodhpurs (my most beloved item of clothing).

    • Michele says:

      Hi Davinia,
      No I don’t remember rope petticoats, so I googled them but could only find ones from the Civil War! I remember I had more twinsets than you could poke a stick at though.

  2. Davinia says:

    Yikes …..the civil war? That makes me sound positively ancient.


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