Thursday, April 3, 2014

People Who love to Eat are Always the Best People - Julia Child

"It's like those jars of coloured sand at The Big Shell at Tewantin"
I thought curiously to myself as I stared at the jar of dripping on the side of the huge stove.  It contained many different layers of various meat fats and the odd fossil of meat that had been accumulated over months worth of roast lambs, beef & sausages.
Suddenly I felt a big warm hand on my shoulder and a deep voice whispered in my ear.
"If you go to the fridge and look in the side of the door you'll find a treat. There is a packet of Violet Crumble pieces. You can have ONE. Don't tell your Mother & for the love of God don't tell your bloody cousins."

I looked up into the twinkling eyes of my Grandad who seemed to fill the room with his bulking frame, dark skin & blue black slick oiled hair and smirked. 
He gives me a wink & a cheeky smile and tells me to "Go On".
I practically bolt to the fridge on my skinny legs & find the secret treat. I don't scoff it. I sit at the table & slowly eat the chocolate off the outside first before putting the honeycomb cube into my mouth letting it gradually deliciously melt in my mouth.

Most of my memories of my Grandad (Frank) seem to revolve around food. Shitloads of food.

About once a month the whole family of Aunts & Uncles & Cousins would descend upon my Nanny & Grandad's high-set house for an epic banquet.
Children under the age of 13 were strictly forbidden from entering the house and had to enter up the side of the house and go directly to the greenhouse outdoor pergola in the back yard.

Even though I wouldn't say that growing up we were POOR but we certainly were BASIC.
At home we had an immense vegetable garden where we grew everything you could imagine.
Dinners at the Wiemers house were usually things like Corned Beef with carrots, choko & white sauce (leftovers of corned beef fritters the next day), Steakettes with carrots, beans, choko & corn and Steak & Kidney stew.
Dessert (which was rare) was strawberry junket or lemon sago.

So, these monthly banquets at N&GDs were very exciting for my brother, sister & I.

Upon arriving at N&GD's,  Nanny would present the children with trays & trays & trays of party pies, mini sausage rolls and searing scalding hot cheerios' with tomato sauce. Children's arms & hands would be a blur of pastry & sauce as we decimated everything in sight. We would wash it all down with delicious cans of Pasito.

UPSTAIRS was always a mystery but as soon as I turned 13 I was invited up the stairs to sit at "The Big Person's Table". Needless to say, it was a pivotal moment in my life.

Grandad would sit at the head of the table with everyone packed around the table in this little dining room area adjoining the kitchen. Nanny would be in the kitchen busy preparing dessert while instructing us to "Don't wait for me! Eat Eat!".

Grandad had spent the day before & morning preparing the feast.
Roast Lamb or even better Roast PORK with CRACKLING. Oh the Crackling!!! Crispy crunchy roast potato, peas, pumpkin with litres of incredible thick salty gravy made from dripping. Loaves and loaves of super soft bread fresh from the bakery at 5am that morning, UNSLICED so that we could slice it to be about 3cm thick and top it with thick chunks of salted butter.  Every single thing cooked with lard, butter, salt and/or cream.
There was no way that you could just pig out though. This was The Big Person's Table where you had to sit up straight & mind your manners. Elbows off the table & cotton napkin on your lap.

Grandad would lead conversation which almost always revolved around that "bloody Dennis Lillee" or "those bloody crook politicians " or the "bloody stupid football refs".

AS SOON as we finished gorging ourselves, Nanny would quickly clear the table of everything and a big pot of tea would appear in front of GD along with a plethora of china tea cups & saucers.

Then it was my favourite time of all.... DESSERT!

While my Grandad was the Master chef of the house my Nanny was the baking Queen. Instead of a birthday cake, every year I would request her incredible lemon meringue pie.
Soon the lunch table was literally covered with an assortment of lemon meringue pies, caramel tarts, raspberry jelly, bowls of SPC peaches, tubs of FULL-CREAM Peters Vanilla Ice-cream, custard and thick pouring cream.
I would FILL my bowl with EVERYTHING knowing that it would be back to boring junket the next day.
Nanny would be in the kitchen washing up (if anyone got up to help her she would scold them to sit down & eat) and Grandad would pour himself the strongest cup of tea, lean back in his chair & then the jokes would begin.

My GD was a big man with a big laugh & a wicked sense of humour. He loved a good joke.
Most of his jokes were multiracial and involved an Englishman, Irishman and a Scotsman and after delivering the punch line he would roar with his booming laughter.
I liked it because some of his jokes would be slightly 'adult' in content & as he was telling it he would wink at me and give me that cheeky grin again.

Sometimes we would 'stay over' & that was the best. Nanny would let me put on some of her 'special' beauty cream (Oil of Olay) and let me put her rollers in her hair. I would sit at GDs feet in front of his recliner as he puffed away on his Winfield Reds before he fell asleep, his loud rumbling snores almost shaking the house.

On 26th of March my Grandfather lost his long battle with emphysema. He was 85 years old.

I am so grateful that I was blessed with a Grandfather who was, in all seriousness, the quintessential Top Bloke.  A hard worker who worked on the rail for 41 years.  A truly loving husband to Dawn (my Nanny) for nearly 64 years and a doting father. He loved a joke & was always giving somebody a good hearted ribbing. He was sarcastic & dry but never mean. He was cracking jokes right up to the end.

I will miss him dearly.

Each time I have a chocolate Clinker (I used to hate getting the green ones), a Violet Crumble piece or a strong cup of tea I will remember him and know that sneaky chocolate treat was our little secret......

though I strongly suspect that it may have been a secret with all of his grandchildren. :)

John (Frank) Evans
30 November 1928 - 26 March 2014


  1. He sounds awesome - thanks for sharing :)
    (and how awesome is violet crumble?!!)