By design or necessity, my Grandma was an excellent cook.
Her kitchen was the place where guests were received, important decisions made and the very best of food was created.
A few years ago, I was lucky enough to inherit a selection of her cookbooks. Amongst the titles was a 1964 edition of The Commonsense Cookery Book, a much-loved and weathered copy of Elizabeth Craig’s Economical Cookery (circa 1948) and a rather pristine copy of Roz Denny’s Family Suet Cooking.
But buried beneath them all, was a cookbook of the home-made variety, labelled ‘Passionfruit 1991’.
It must have been a good year for passionfruit. The book began with a raft of recipes designed to use up all the available fruit. There was one for passionfruit foam (to be served with custard); another for passionfruit lemon butter; vanilla slice with – you guessed it – passionfruit; and, of course, meringue which wouldn’t be complete without . . . passionfruit.
After a dozen or so pages, the inspiration – and perhaps the fruit – ran out. That’s where Grandpa took over ownership of the book. In 1991 he listed every piece of fruit and vegetable harvested from their garden.
At this point, you should know, they didn’t do things by halves. Grandpa logged 172 lbs of tomatoes, 126 capsicums, 31 ¼ lbs of beans, 12 pumpkins and 223 cucumbers.
But passionfruit won the day with 489 pieces of fruit harvested from their vine.
The fruit was delivered into the kitchen where Grandma turned that produce into culinary delights to last the year through.
It’s puts into perspective my own gardening successes – the carrot that’s actually straight, the watermelon that’s actually edible and the eggplant that looks gorgeous even if it will never see the inside of my kitchen.
I take solace in the thought that perhaps 2013 will be my year for passionfruit.