I just can't imagine Fanny Cradock at school. Can you? I can't imagine her being a child at all. She has so expertly crafted her persona and image for our enjoyment, that is hard to picture her in any other way. Especially as a 'nipper'. I can't imagine her impatiently shoving her hand in the air to answer a teachers question. I can't imagine her playing hopscotch in the school yard at break time. I can't imagine her sitting with other children and enjoying a meal at lunchtime. Perhaps she was born a fully formed adult?
I know it's not popular to admit it, but I was simply never a fan of school dinners. I'm not someone to look back fondly on the seemingly strange creations that were served up to keep our little minds active and stimulated throughout the day. I just wanted to get them over and done with. Except if there was pink custard. Everything is different with pink custard. It was probably a result of eating well at home, and cooking and baking from an early age too. The school canteen just held no pleasure.
It seems that Fanny and I shared this view. She wants to re-educate us all, starting with semolina. Before we all panic and make horrid faces, she is very clear that this will version will bear no resemblance to any school or canteen semolina that we would know. She goes further, chalking up in big letters on her imaginary blackboard the words THIS IS A SEMOLINA PUDDING WHICH YOU WILL NOT FIND REPELLENT.
She underlines this by calling this pudding 'Delicious French Version of Semolina' which she translates as 'Flamri de Semoule'. Perhaps she didn't pay much attention in French lessons either. Fanny brings some water to the boil, shoots in icing sugar, stirs, then adds the semolina. Her instruction is to stir it continuously, which I do, until the spoon will stand erect in it alone, which it does. Off the heat, she beats in an egg and when completely blended, some stiffly whipped egg white. This mixture is then transferred to an oiled pudding bowl ready to be steamed. Luckily I always have one at hand, ready.
Two hours later, it's ready to be unfolded. Fanny warns that if you take a premature peek the pudding is liable to collapse. She includes a photo of one, made by one of her naughty assistants who peeked, to hammer home the message. It's flat. It tasted fine, apparently. Fanny says to always remember that you can salvage any mistakes, but of course it is best to not make them in the first place. I take the instruction and leave mine. It's not flat. Fanny demands that it is served with fresh raspberries and raspberries sieved to make a juice. She tells us that no-one will complain if a little gently whipped double cream is also added. So I do. No-one complained. This pudding shares nothing with my memories of semolina, and is indeed delicious. Every day is a school day with Fanny.