12 May '17
BORN LICHTENFELS, GERMANY,1928
MOTHER TONGUE, GERMAN
GRANDCHILDREN, ISKA, LUKE, HARRY, JACK, ROSIE, COCO, FRANCESCA
they call her: LALLY
Wiener Schnitzel, Red Cabbage and 'Granny' Carrots
"Schnitzel is a German favourite of mine but for a long time after moving to England I was very set on not being German. When I went walking through town with my mum, I’d always try and stop her talking so noisily. She’d let the cat out of the bag of course and people would know we were foreign. People used to ask me if I knew Hitler. We’d then have to explain why we were good Germans. We really weren’t welcome anywhere. In Germany we were persecuted by the nazis. They speared my pet dog on the railings of my father’s factory and all our artworks by expressionist painter friends of my parents.
I’d walk to school from my house every day but on one occasion my mum arrived in the car to say we were going on holiday. I was so surprised to see her picking me up in the car. She’d never done that before and I was confused because I didn’t even have my holiday clothes with me. She drove straight from school to the nearest airport, parked the car, left the key in it and then booked a flight, which we boarded that afternoon. I never learnt exactly what sparked that decision for her to leave on that day in particular but I know it saved our lives.
I didn't eat or cook any German food until I was well into my twenties. The meat part of the schnitzel is my favourite part buy trying to find a good vegetable accompaniment is sometimes hard because the dish itself is so dry. I was once invited to dinner by an Austrian lady who thought she knew everything about food and she told me to really enjoy a schniztel properly, you just have a nicely dressed salad with it. She didn't even have any potatoes with hers. I thought it was very odd, no carbohydrates.
As fate would have it, my first boyfriend was a German man. I met him when I was a student at the Royal College of Music in London. He first pursued me up the stairs going to the canteen. He looked at my tray and I had my baked beans on toast on there and he said ’do you like this food?’ and I said, ‘well I hope I shall.’ We got to talking and he realised i was very much the same as him. We decided to go out for a meal at some cheap little place in Soho that evening and so it went on. It was a rather good night. That was quite a good time in life, really.
I met my husband Michael around the same time and all our first outings were food orientated.I never thought about marriage and I was always ready to say no but marrying Michael was the right decision when it happened in 1954. We were in some pub in Leicester when he proposed. One day he said ‘d’you think we’d better get on with it?’ It’s the sort of thing Michael would say, instead of falling on one knee and doing all that stuff.
I can just remember one meal we had in Colwin Bay, when Michael's medical partner and his wife were coming for dinner and they came a little bit too early. I was doing duck. Why I should want to do duck, I don't know. I dropped it on the kitchen floor. I was going to baste it I think. Anyway, I promptly scooped it up, put it back in its tray and popped it back into the oven. No one knew. I told Michael afterwards.
He was lovely and very matter-of-fact about things that you could have been rightfully hysterical about and that’s what made it such a happy marriage – his tremendous readiness to compromise. If I could have anyone over for dinner, it would be him again. Michael and my children"
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