Virginia Barton

22 February 2014: The cricket by the Aga

Our Aga cost a bomb but it gave succour, if only temporary, to crickets. It comforted the insomniac and the sufferer of an essay crisis. It was hopeless for teaching the little ones cooking. But it is the only piece of household equipment I have ever actually wept over when it died and was broken up and carted away for scrap.

28 November 2013: Happy Thanksgiving!

Too late I realise that the secret of cooking is to know what something ought to taste like. It was my mother’s secret. Lover of good food, she never did a hand’s turn in the kitchen (being of that generation and an artist to boot). However, she knew exactly what the result should be and would rattle whoever was making the lunch or dinner by prodding, turning or tasting and then pronouncing judiciously: “Too much sugar, add more salt” or, worst of all, “I think not darling.”

26 November 2013: Pie panic!

It’s November 26 and the making of the Pumpkin Pie has now assumed the proportions of an approaching asteroid, whirlingly destructive. Nerves are as taut as when VB first made an Irish stew for her mother-in-law.

20 November 2013: Remembering JFK

John F Kennedy was loved unreservedly by most of us from the day he was elected until the day he died. The glamour, the youth, the good looks, the war record and charismatic star quality all combined to make an irresistible package. He swept us off our collective feet and we felt the world must take a turn for the better.

14 November 2013: Pumpkin pie S.O.S.

Eaten once in 1962, never made but never forgotten, the mouthwatering deliciousness of the authentic pumpkin pie is one of life’s mysteries. One never sees them in the shops here. I’m sure they have to be homemade. Possibly home-bungled.

14 October 2013: Chowder, again

Our English chums love Chowder: those with the jaded palates of fine college dining praise its “regional authenticity and unusually delicate piscatorial piquancy”. Humbug, it’s just plain delicious. And even BH, no fish-lover he, unless it’s disguised as a meat pie or patty, tucks in with gusto. (Stern critic of my cuisine, BH is almost always my yardstick.)

3 October 2013: Fame

“What is the end of fame? It is but to fill / A certain portion of uncertain paper:/ Some liken it to climbing up a hill, / Whose summit, like all hills, is lost in vapour.”

28 September 2013: Ginny, head-in-air

When did you last lie flat on your back gazing at the sky? Coming from the north, and a landscape that rapidly changes, I’ve always loved the fact of clouds and their uniqueness. Now you see them, now you don’t. Only the sea is as changeable.

22 September 2013: My notebook habit

A recent rough survey of my notebooks revealed a large A4 entitled “Ginny Barton, Beloved Snail”. It looks pretentious – it is. Inside is a long quote from St Paul to the Ephesians marked: “For my book, when I get round to writing it.” The rest, predictably, is empty; obviously I am still waiting to get round.

Impressions of an FA Cup Final

Like dozens of others, I became an armchair football fan in 1966, year of glorious memory when England won the World Cup. Pin-ups of the heroes decorated the kitchen and Georgie Best adorned the broom cupboard for at least a season. Geoffrey Greene’s memorable prose was read as eagerly as dispatches from the front.

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