For those of you reading this blog from outside of NZ (I have followers in the UK, Australia, Germany and France – cool aye) Watties is the iconic brand of Tomato sauce in NZ (similar to Heinz). Its not easy remembering summer salad days when you’re experiencing a rainy weekend in the middle of an ever-so dreary autumn
But on Friday I received a little taste of summer through the efforts and generosity of my work mate Christina. Christina had picked up a supply of the last of the summer tomatoes at a bargain basement price of $1.00 a kilo. So what does one do with a copious amount of tomatoes? Well you make sauce and chutney of course! Both of which Christina presented to my other work mate – Tim and myself. Now, I love ‘homemade’ as much as anyone, but after a couple of bad experiences buying chutneys, preserves and jams at Church Fairs and A&P shows, I’m quite selective about what I choose to put in my mouth. Although my stomach obviously gives contradictory evidence to this statement! So it was with some caution that I tried both Christina’s chutney and sauce, which she had carefully labelled ‘Nana’s.’ Well I needn’t have been cautious. From the moment her produce touched my lips and tongue – an explosion of taste and memories flooded into my consciousness.
Memories of backyard cricket, massive test matches played against my two brothers. Memories of long hot summer days that seemed to stretch on forever. Back then times were different. Times were innocent, you would pop down to the local diary and pick up a loaf of bread and not have to worry about the budget. Times, when a lot of Mums stayed at home. Times when Mums had the time to bake, sew, darn and preserve. As a solo Mum, my Mum had to work, although she made great efforts to also attend to the domestic crafts the stay at home Mums had so much more time for. I remember stinking hot sweltering summer days when Mum would be working in the kitchen, sweating and stewing over boiling pots of home made tomato sauce, her only company dozens of feverish wasps hovering over the pots, checking out the produce before anyone else could.
And the reward for Mum’s efforts was always the same. “Ergh, not home made tomato sauce, why cant we have Watties like everyone else?” As kids my brothers and I hated home made sauce, but man did we get it wrong!
As I tasted Christina’s Nana’s Home made sauce and chutney I was bowled over as easily as I ever was playing cricket as a kid. It was a taste sensation. Rich, ripe full tasting tomato chunks seasoned and spiced to perfection. There was tang, there was sweetness and a beautiful kick of chilli. I have now been re-converted to home made, and I now owe my mother the biggest apology in the world.