The village shop was useful for buying bread and penny sweets but for anything more substantial it was the ‘big’ town we had to venture to. Conveniently positioned at a busy junction and providing just a handful of parking spaces was the one supermarket , Fine Fare. Contravening trade description it stocked little except tinned foods and we would all have had scurvy if it wasn’t for the abundance of cabbages that our neighbour would leave on the doorstep. A sack of tatties, a bag of carrots, a neep or two, and the cabbages, were brought weekly by the farmer whose dialect was so broad that my granny once confessed that in 16 years she had never understood him once.
These vegetables plus the tinned goods from Fine Fare and a few bags of frozen broccoli and peas from Farmfoods (with a few Vienetta’s thrown in) was as varied as our diet got. That is until William Lows came to town.
Suddenly such exotic things as kiwi fruits and Mediterranean vegetables, unheard of in Aberdeenshire, appeared in abundance. How these “new” vegetables were accepted, given that we lived in an area where olive oil was for putting in ears, is a mystery to me. It seems improbable and laughable now but up until then something basic like garlic was a rarity. Garlic was not something we bought until I was a teenager and even then it was viewed with some suspicion. It most certainly was not eaten in excess. Once, while taking a bulb of garlic to be weighed, I got a terrible row from my mum. What was I thinking!? How on earth would we get through a whole bulb of garlic? I was made to break off just two cloves and I suspect that even that was deemed excessive.
These days I think nothing of adding three big cloves to anything I make. I couldn’t imagine cooking without it, although plenty people do. We all have different tastes, and I’m a fan of pungent, sour and salty tastes, so I can understand why the acrid nature of raw garlic can be off putting but, my goodness, it can be sweet and mellow when braised or roasted until those sugars caramelise. What a joy to miss out on! One of these days I may even prove or disprove my conviction that a roasted clove dipped in the darkest of chocolate would rival any gourmet truffle or after dinner mint.