What’s it all about?

It’s all about food and stuff

Welcome to Lumpy Mash, a place to share stories about food. The tastes, the smells, the feelings we associate with it. Like how steaming hot cod and chips, liberally doused with salt and vinegar, tasted best eaten from newspaper, walking home from the pictures on a cold Saturday night. Or how a plateful of your mum’s shepherd’s pie could make all your problems disappear. Maybe it was that first date, when you tried to show off as you attempted, and failed, to nonchalantly twirl a forkful of spaghetti bolognese. Licking garlicky oil from your fingers or even better, someone else’s, as you peeled big, fat, sizzling gambas a la plancha in a Spanish beach bar. The spectre of school dinners – every Wednesday it was revolting cheese flan, yuck, baked beans and, of course, a scoop of lumpy mash.

Probably the best memories come from our childhood, the food our mum cooked. And that’s still the best comfort food there is when we want to cheer ourselves up.

But Lumpy Mash isn’t just about memories of the food we ate as kids. It’s about evenings when friends came round for a bowl of pasta and a few glasses of plonk, a special occasion slap-up supper somewhere posh, family picnics on warm summer days, sipping hot sweet tea in the Casbah, frying sausages over a campfire, eating street food in India or shopping for cheeses in French markets.

Food is the glue in our relationships with our friends and families. So here on Lumpy Mash we’re going to tell our stories to celebrate all those tastes, smells and emotions that we all associate with it; the places we’ve been, the people we’ve known, and all the things that happened that eating and drinking were somehow a part of. The memories we cherish, the ones we’d rather forget.

We’re not a website about recipes, or how to do this or that in the kitchen. We’ll include recipes and the ‘this and that’ stuff with stories when they’re relevant. What you’ll find here is anecdotes of the emotional side of what food and drink mean to all of us; how sinking your teeth into a Tunnocks tea cake can catapult you back to your childhood, or how the smell of burnt toast can remind you of an old girlfriend.

“Think about the last time food transported you. You were a kid, had been feeling under the weather all week, and when you were finally getting your appetite back, after a long, wet walk from school in the rain, mom had a big steaming bowl of homemade minestrone waiting for you. Maybe it was just a bowl of Campbell’s cream of tomato with Oysterettes, and a grilled cheese sandwich. You know what I mean.

Your first taste of champagne on a woman’s lips…steak frites when you were in Paris as a teenager with a Eurorail pass, you’d blown almost all your dough on hash in Amsterdam, and this slightly chewy slab of rumsteck (rump steak) was the first substantial meal in days…a single wild strawberry, so flavourful that it nearly took your head off…your grandmother’s lasagne…a first sip of stolen ice-cold beer on a hot summer night, hands smelling of crushed fireflies…leftover pork fried rice, because your girlfriend at the time always seemed to have some in the fridge…steamer clams, dripping with drawn butter from your first family vacation at the Jersey shore…rice pudding from the Fort Lee Diner…bad Cantonese when you were a kid and Chinese was still exotic and wonderful and you still thought fortune cookies were fun…dirty water hot dogs…a few beads of caviar, licked off a nipple…”

Anthony Bourdain, A Cook’s Tour – You can buy it here.

Who’s responsible for Lumpy Mash?

Lumpy Mash has been cooked up by Peter and The Italian.

Peter, aka ‘The Happy Eater’, comes across as the quiet one. That’s probably because he remembers what his mother told him about it being rude to talk with your mouth full. Peter loves eating, as often as he possibly can. Food didn’t mean a sausage to him until he was six years old and parted company with his tonsils. His dormant appetite then suddenly woke up big time, and he hasn’t looked back since. Most of Peter’s ex-girlfriends claim that all the photos they ever took of him show him either about to put food into his mouth or chewing.

The other one is known simply as The Italian. His family originates from Rome, there’s no truth in the rumour that he was raised by wolves. His propensity to laugh loudly and smile a lot, especially at mealtimes, is legendary. The Italian needs very little encouragement to get busy in the kitchen. His style’s slow ‘n’ easy; pasta’s his weapon of choice. Don’t expect that ragu of his to be ready in a hurry, he’ll simmer it gently for at least three days until it tastes just like his Nonna used to make.

Why Lumpy Mash?

The name felt quirky and said ‘memories of food’. Says Peter: “The idea for this site came out of a book I was writing about my mum’s cooking. (She’s going to kill me.) Mum, I know your mash was never lumpy, we just liked the name.”