My mother had two ways to cook food, and being the gourmet chef that she was, she choose the best of appliances to help her accomplish this task. A Calor Kosingas gas cooker and a Stanley 8 solid fuel cooker.
The Stanley 8 was a great piece of kitchen equipment. It heated the kitchen to furnace quality heat levels, and cooked meat to a singe. The more turf you forced into that little thing, the higher the needle went on the temperature gauge and sometimes we even managed to make the black top glow bright red. It was a splendid sight to behold with the lights out in the kitchen.
Regulating the temperature was a very tricky task, in fact it was practically impossible. My father ate dinner at one o’clock in the day. His dinner was done to perfection. The rest of us ate dinner that had been plated and left in the oven, the door to the right, to “keep warm.” Remember now, this little beauty could hit record levels of heat.
Our plated dinners were placed into the oven to keep warm at one o’clock and we arrived home from school at about four forty. The plates by that time had the gravy burned into the sides of the plate and the meat and potatoes and vegetables no longer resembled edible foods, but we ate it all heartily, and asked if there was more.
It was like a guessing game really. When the plates were produced from the furnace, sorry I mean Stanley 8 any guess was a good one. Was it turkey, lamb, beef, chicken or duck? Whatever meat it was, if it had a crispy black coating, it was lumgullion.
This “joke” was occasionally received with good humor by our mother, but only occasionally. “You’ll eat it and be happy about it!” usually meant she had about enough of the, “smart arsed remarks,” about the fine lumgullion dinner she was placing before us.
If visitors heard us refer to lumgullion, they asked what it was. One brother quipped, “Bulls balls and gravy.” From that point onwards lumgullion was his three meals a day.
When my husband was about to meet my mother for the very first time he wanted to impress her.
“What should I say to make her like me?” he asked.
What more of an invitation did I need?
I told him that the minute he walked into the kitchen she would be cooking her little heart out to make sure that we had a nice meal to enjoy after the long flight across the Atlantic. I said, with great pride, that her speciality dish was lumgullion, a delicacy dish in Ireland. I assured him it was made from the finest beef with the freshest ingredients, but I left out the heat levels used for cremating it.
Now, in fairness, my mother always did a beautiful Irish breakfast and you sat and ate freshly baked brown bread, sausages, rashers, eggs and maybe a pork chop and a few cups of tea.
“Do you want more toast, another sausage, more rashers, should I fry another egg, how about another drop of tea?”
She did a fantastic job of welcoming me home every time. But, well….how could I resist a bit of fun between my mother and a complete stranger she was about to meet who was going to become my husband?
The kitchen smelled gorgeous, the table was set beautifully with pink roses from the garden, the Stanley 8 was aglow with warmth. He took her hand in his, greeted her politely, and trying hard to make a good first impression, he said it…..
“Mrs. Horrigan is that your famous lumgullion I smell?”
My mother folded at the knees and laughed so hard she could barely get the words out…
“You bould little bitch!”