When I heard the February Le Challenge was The Rising Sun the thing that instantly jumped into my mind was prawns and lettuce. The second was a book by John McGahern, "That I May Face the Rising Sun" that I enjoyed several years ago. But there was only one contender, the prawns and lettuce.
Way back in the summer of 1990, July, we were on a holiday in Devon, my husband, my 3 year old twin boys and pregnant me. We had a great time and the highlight was Linton and Lynmouth with the cliff railway. Lynmouth is very photogenic, a great bridge over the river and the Rising Sun pub. We always joke that I can remember meals from years ago and all over the world, well, I am a girl who likes her grub. No less so when it is made for me. Way back in 1990 you could eat what you wanted when pregnant, you were encouraged to eat liver and lots of fish so a half pint glass full of big fat prawns and crunchy iceberg lettuce was not a problem. I can still remember being amazed just how many big prawns they could get in one glass. And the sauce was amazing. The more sophisticated me now knows it is just mayonnaise and tomato sauce.
I googled some images of knitted lettuce and prawns, yes they do exist, and then on Wednesday morning at 9.15 am I started knitting my lettuce leaf, and by 1.55 pm I had it finished plus 3 prawns. (I had a bad fall on Tuesday night on my home from work so spent some quality time in bed this week.)
I have one major problem with my prawns. Now I am not saying I am a brilliant knitter or can bring things to life, but they do look too lifelike for me. They don't look like prawns lying on lettuce waiting to be eaten, the look like the prawns are eating the lettuce. We have dreadful problems with slugs, another anecdote coming up, so this creates two problems. I DON'T want to be reminded of slugs when eating and I like my food to be at least dead. I try to eat responsibly, I TRY to look at vegetable air miles when I buy green beans from Kenya, I TRY to eat responsibly farmed meat from the local butcher. Last night we had a free range chicken, I don't know the actual chicken's name but I do know the name of the farm supplier who the butcher uses. But I do like my food to be dead, fresh but not so fresh I have to kill my own prawns.
My daughter suggested we turn them onto their backs, but that looked as if they had just turned up their feet and died, not a success, bit of a massacre to be truthful. In Oxford last year I ordered langoustines and my then vegetarian daughter was horrified when this plate of fish in its shells arrived. She found it very traumatising and claimed the son and I had massacred a whole shoal/school of langoustines. Well, these three knitted prawns looked like that and I still felt guilty.
Then we hysterically though we could stick a fork in one, but that might bring the cruelty to knitted prawns people bearing down on us.
So, 3 prawns crawling across a lettuce leaf it is.
Oh yes, the story about the slugs. Our corner of N Ireland is renowned for being wet and cold and rainy. I know that is an insult to anyone in England caught up in these terrible floods, but generally our weather is crap, but great for slugs. The slugs eat everything, and quite often do all in one night. I hate slug pellets because then the birds eat the slugs who eat the slug pellets, and we like the birds. So, I used to save the children's sunflowers and my radishes by going out at dusk with the salt, killing the slugs and then throwing them in the compost heap, or over the fence into the non gardening neighbour's garden, whichever was handier (don't do that anymore, husband told me off). I would wander round the garden taking out the day's frustrations on the slugs, muttering "got you, you bast**d, there's another little b**stard. Then one day my 3 year old daughter came running into the kitchen shouting, "mummy, mummy, come quick, there's another one of those bastards in the garden". Hazel says that is a reflection on my parenting skills rather than her cuteness.
And, one last thing, "That I May Face the Rising Sun" meant the man in the book wanted buried facing the sun. Not a bad way to go, all things considered.
ps don't know if it is a local expression or one everyone uses but my Dad says "I am not as green as I am cabbage looking", I am not as daft as I look or something like that. ~A bit like "do you think I came up the River Lagan in a bubble?" another of his expressions.