Curry, Faggots And Mushy Peas

20 Feb

Ink drawing: at the curry house.

 

We have a regular babysitting slot looking after one of our great-nieces after school each Monday and this week she had a treat, dinner at The Vojon, our local curry-house [for fans of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, that’s just one letter away from the worst poets in the Universe]. I sketched us in the large mirrors at the end of the restaurant, reflecting the elaborate light fittings. It’s great the way that curry houses have democratised eating-out in Britain. When I was little, there were lots of Italian cafes in the city that served tea, coffee, ice-cream and steamed pies to working class people, but that was only in the daytime. Restaurants were few and far between and could only be afforded by the well-off.

If you didn’t want to cook in the evening, there was the fish and chip shop and, down the High Street, a faggot and pea shop. I can remember my Dad taking my hand and walking me down the street with a basin in his other hand. At the faggot and pea shop, they filled the basin with hot faggots in a savoury gravy and a pile of mushy peas and covered it with the teatowel Dad had brought. Then we carried it back and Mam had made some mashed potato to go with them. Delicious. Still one of my favourite meals, althought the faggot and pea shop has long gone and we buy our faggots in the local market. Then right at the end of the 1960’s the first curry house arrived in the city, serving cheap meals in the evening. It had velvet flock wallpaper, ever so posh.

Just so you know, the little Italian cafes used to heat up small round meat pies by jamming them onto the steam pipe on the coffee machine and giving them a blast of steam, making them lovely and soft and chewy, more like a suet pudding. And faggots are small savoury meatballs, considered quite a delicacy in Wales. There’s a lot of rivalry between Swansea and nearby Neath, over which has the best faggots. Swansea obviously 😉

4 Responses to “Curry, Faggots And Mushy Peas”

  1. Russell. February 21, 2012 at 18:34 #

    MMmmmmmmm….. comfort food. Everything mashed is good. This post made me hungry!

    You really captured the moment in your drawing, I’m most comfortable drawing in cafes,
    cafes where I have been accepted as part of the furniture.
    I’ve learned people don’t like to be drawn when they’re eating, one altercation springs to mind on the subway when I drew a businessman wolfing down a chocolate bar.

    He was not very impressed.

    I made some drawings in a breakfast diner recently, (Breakfast portrait.), but was very careful and waited until my quarry had finished eating. Your husband and niece wouldn’t mind though.

    This is a memory of an evening shared together, captured in a drawing that says so much more than a photograph ever could, those lamps are great, like U.F.O’s invading Swansea. Regards Russell.

  2. charcutierltd February 21, 2012 at 10:42 #

    Have you tried the Cosy Cafe up Mount Pleasant? It might not serve steamed pies (and I remember those well as a child when visiting the Rhondda with my Dad) but Enzo the owner does make a ‘proper’ spag bol.

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