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My grandma’s cooking pot

Cookining pot on a woodburning stove on the Shottish island of Swona
This is the main character of this story, the backdrop is the Scottish abandoned island of Swona.

My grandma was a childhood dream, she liked her cakes and cookies and was quite willing to share them with her grandchildren. We would play checkers all afternoon, I must have played it with her a thousand times, endless checkers. But with the cakes and cookies, came a body shape that matched her lifestyle. Maybe, to today’s standards, she would have been not so exceptional in her weight, but in the 1970s I must have had the largest grandma of the neighbourhood. And she would maintain it by sending me out for more cakes without moving a foot yourself. I remember her sitting like a female version of Henry VIII, on her throne. Her dinner would be, like a wishing table, delivered in a green foam box, hot and ready to eat. The next day a neighbour would be called down and warm up the leftovers. Once a week the house would be cleaned by a housekeeper. And this is where my slow travel story begins.

Our Neolithic kitchen
Our neolithic kitchen, nothing ornamental here!

On the stove in the kitchen was a set of old battered aluminium pots and pans. Too corroded and pitted to be considered healthy nowadays. But these were the pots which were used for food preparation. However, above the stove was a plain wooden rack with a set of shiny stainless steel pots. Every week, they would be lovingly polished by the housekeeper but they were never used. They just stood there, looking pretty on a shelf, that was their only purpose in life. But grandma passed away and I inherited the shiny set of polished pots and pans. And we used them as they were supposed to be used, on the stove, cooking food in them.
But nowadays, one of pot joins our travels. In a bit more dressed downstate. To save some space we removed all the knobs and handles. It also became a little bit more dented along the way. After a good scrap in some salty water, you sometimes lose your footing on the slippery seaweed. Swinging with your arms wildly to regain your balance, the pot, once or twice has gotten a good toss. Ending up with some bruises on the human butt and some dents in the stainless steel pot from hitting the hard and sharp rocks. But above all, this pot definitely lost its shimmer and shine. Or to be more accurate, the pot is black. We like to cook on a wood-burning stove. It saves us from having to carry the liquid fuel. We just find some driftwood in the tide line, set it alight and we’re in business. But this leaves a thick black coating of soot and creosote on the pot that can’t be removed, even with a good scrub of beach sand and a bit of elbow grease.

The cookingpot with food in it on Copinsay island Orkney islands
A nice big blackened cooking pot with tasty content on the island of Copinsay (Orkney islands)

I’m sorry, grandma’s cooking pot, this is not how life started out. It is the Cinderella story in reverse for you.

Alexander Gannet

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