Sunday, 2 September 2012

Storytelling Sunday Two: The Words The Pictures

First Sunday in the month? Then it has to be Storytelling Sunday! Let's dive right in;

L is for Life Lessons and Lentils



It's not often I take a picture especially for Storytelling Sunday. Usually I'm pulling one from the past. But for today I had nothing quite right. I needed lentils. 

Does anyone actually need lentils? they're saying round here. Well, I like them. Especially in soup. And (almost) every time I reach for the jar, I think about the first time I tried to cook them. The time I turned to lentils in my hour of need.


It was round this time of year. Let's call it late September. But dark, gloomy, classrooms with the lights on and nature tables loaded with Autumn. I was nine and I was hungry. Nothing new there: most nine year olds are hungry; but, after a summer of my Mum's cooking, the miserable old problem of school dinners was pressing on my mind.

Our school dinners were loathsome. School itself, I liked. The food? It still makes me shudder to think of it.No packed lunches allowed, no snacks from home: it was basically blackmail. They offered it up, we refused to eat it and everyone went hungry. Tapioca, semolina, wartime rations for 70's kids who dreamed of fish fingers and Angel Delight. Oh, yes. We were hungry.

And on that day, I cracked. I'd like to say that my plan came to me in a dream; but actually it arrived in a supermarket carrier bag full of dried pulses. We'd all been asked to bring stuff for a craft project. A stick on fantasy of peas and rice. Mmm..peas and rice..real food. I knew what I had to do.

It was easy. Mum did it all the time. She took the dried stuff. She boiled it up and an hour or two later we all had lunch. An hour or two? I still had time! we hadn't even done Science yet. I would take my raw ingredients, I decided, and prepare a delicious feast. My picture would be light on lentils, but my belly would be full. I needed to work fast. I needed to plan. But I was a Girl Guide, I knew what I was doing. I waited for breaktime, until the teacher had slipped out for a coffee (I knew there were biscuits in that staffroom and I was bitter, but I wasn't broken)..I carefully, quietly took an empty glass coffee jar from the store cupboard. I filled it with hot water from the tap, I poured in my lentils, screwed on the lid and set it gently in my locker. Now all I had to do was sit back and wait. At lunchtime my soup would be ready. I'd feast, I'd eat my fill and I might even have enough to go round. Sian's soup kitchen would be in business.

Well, you know what happened, of course. My coffee jar full of lukewarm water and dried lentils was still a coffee jar of lukewarm water and dried  lentils at lunchtime. Though by going home time it had changed - to a coffee jar full of cold water and dried lentils. I got into my mum's car and asked her if she had any toast and jam.

I was still happy I'd tried. It might have worked. I might have found fame as a world class lentil handler. These days I do a lot of slow cooking. I have cracked the Crock Pot. And my picture making has improved too. In fact I would go so far as to say - same situation today? you know what? I'd choose sticking over soup making. And that's what makes it, as they say,  a funny old life..

And that's my story for today. I can't wait to see who else has one to share.  If you have one  we'd love to hear from you! A photo and a few words (or maybe the few words without the photo?) or something a bit longer. I love them all! Create your  Storytelling Sunday post with an introduction (so your readers know what's going on) and a link back here and then come on over. The linky stays open all week, so if your story isn't ready for Sunday - no worries! And if you add a link - then, please, do say hello to some other storytellers. We can't tell stories on our own, we need an audience. So.. ready, steady, story..


49 comments:

Maria Ontiveros said...

What a great story! We love lentils around here (at least partly because Paul is a vegetarian). My story will be going up a bit later.
Rinda

ComfyMom~Stacey said...

We aren't big lentil soup eaters but I do make a nice cold lentil salad.
I was convinced there was a homicidal maniac in my house about a year ago that turned out to be dried lentils and I haven't trusted them since.

Za faran said...

I'm a total vegetarian and I enjoyed reading how you wrote about lentils. South Indians use a lot of lentils in everyday cooking.
Oh I can imagine how it must have been to sit hungry and your innocent, brave attempt to rise above it! :-)

Deb @ Paper Turtle said...

I love lentils and I love your story this month, Sian! I've only cooked lentils once myself, so I can fully appreciate how NOT cooked they would be after an hour's time in a glass jar!

My story this month is about school lunches too. :o)

Amy said...

We don't have school made lunches here in Australia, but I can just imagine that if school lunches are anything like the food served in the Uni dorm - well, I'd resort to covert operations too!

Karen said...

Oh you have reminded me of school dinner's, mostly yuk with a dinner lady standing over you until you had forced the last piece of overcooked cabbage down your gagging throat! BUT oh delight of jelly and blancmange that was occasionally given to us made up for every over dish!

I love making soup, always with lentils and lentil curry is one of our favourite meals at the moment.

Jane said...

I love lentils and hated school dinners, there is still some food I can't eat because of them!

Jo.C said...

You reminded me of the time when we were asked at parents evening to stop sending carrot sticks in for D because she kept hiding them or leaving them on the trolley at school. I have never been so mortified :0)

Mary B said...

That made me smile, Glad I only had to try the school meals and didn't have to continue to have them as they were yuk, I went home for lunch.

Miss Smith said...

What a wonderful story! I love the optimism of the young when it comes to cooking :D And I was really rooting for the lentils.

Thanks for sharing!

heart.hearth.home. said...

Another great yarn, Sian. Good for you trying to improve the school diners sorry lot. It could have worked! I had forgotten about school dinners. My girls disliked them intensely.

Alison said...

School Dinners!...I had forgotten about them (or at least tried to forget!) Lovely story Sian
Alison xx

Alana said...

A-ha...yes, school dinners, such bad memories of cowboy hotpot and skin on the custard. Another lentil lover here:) Great story sian.

debs14 said...

I can see why you thought it would work! Thank goodness you weren't so hungry that you actually tried to eat them - raw - yuk!

Fiona@staring at the sea said...

How creative you were, even back then Sian. I am a big fan of lentils and cook them often. As for school dinners, ours were awful too but I had to suffer them 3 days out of 5 when my Mum was at work.

Abi said...

Oh Sian! this really made me smile! I can imagine you doing that so clearly! A beautifully told tale as always!

scrappyjacky said...

I'm not a great lentil lover....but our school lunches were so vile....I'd have happily traded them for lentils!

S said...

Soup-er story Sian. I, myself, never being a Girl Scout, wouldn't know a lentil if it came up and introduced me. But I supposed I eaten one or two in soup and never noticed. I dare say lentils are unappreciated.

favouriteworkofart said...

Oh, Sian.....as a Mum of a six year old who, last night, cried himself to sleep because he had come to the conclusion that fairy dust can't actually make you fly, I had to laugh at your story and wonder at the innocence portrayed in it. Childhood is such a fleeting, magical, time.

Cheri said...

I'm not sure I've ever HAD lentils. But I love the image of you all refusing to eat lunch and heading home hungry.

Elizabeth said...

After reading your story, I now have a yearning for lentil soup. Childhood memories are the best!

Mel said...

Poor little hungry Sian! The school where I teach now do a delish spiced lentil flan but they only roll it out on training days as the kids don't like it. And tomorrow is a training day - yum!

Jennie Hart said...

That is an excellent story, well remembered and well told. Sian's Soup Kitchen has a ring to it, but I much prefer From Hgh In The Sky!

Again, i've not linked up properly :( I'm so sorry and I don't know how to fix it, and I don't know what I have done wrong? If you know please let me know and i'll make a note not to do it next month!

Lizzie said...

Hmmm... the school dinners at my primary school were like that. And chips with Everything (well every first course), which were greasy and disgusting. My mum got tired of me being ill from the dinners, so she sent me with sandwiches (sorry for you, that you weren't allowed those!); when we moved to live round the corner from school, we went home for lunch every day.
Secondary school lunches were fab though. Almost everything was very nice - except the "beefburgers", which I don't think had ever seen any meat... They fed us pretty well really. Even the semolina pudding came with a spoonful of grated chocolate!
I admire your cookery plans. And how noble of you, to hope to improve the Lot of the Masses, by sharing your bounty... Too bad it didn't work out.
I took my DS off school lunches in infants, as he lost weight! He has always had sandwiches since - at least I know he has a decent, balanced meal, even if it's a cold one.
Great story today, Sian - and I have even managed one of my own (though it's mostly photos).
Off to read a few of the other contributions...

humel said...

Mmmm, lentils.... I can just picture your little cookery session, and your disappointment!

Becky said...

Love this story - can just imagine your disappointment when you couldn't have your soup at lunchtime!

teacakemake said...

This made me smile so much! I love lentils :) I think I may have to join in from next Sunday :D

Mitra Pratt said...

Dude! that rocks! I have to forward to my Mom, she has her own version of a lentil story, only it's me not eating them and calling her stew Lentil Sludge

Ginger said...

oh I love lentil soup! I have one that I have not made for some time now so I will have to look up the recipe.

Loved your story this month Sian :) It showed a wonderful determination on your part!

Jennie Hart said...

Thank you for helping with the link, and the kind comment!

Carmen said...

Oh bless little Sian's heart! I can just picture it! At least you didn't crack any teeth trying them! What a fabulous story!

Another her who loves lentils and pulses, mmmmm will soon be weather for hearty homemade stew and dumplings again!

Kirsty.a said...

Good try, Sian! Great story

Lisa-Jane said...

LOL! How funny is that?! Although, its actually awful that things were so bad you had to resort to such tactics. Imagine if the water had been hotter... you may have ended up with an overflowing jar as they all swelled up!

Louise said...

oh my Sian....that sounds like desperate measures! poor you! a lovely story x

Sandie said...

That was a great idea Sian! You could have been so popular at school if it had worked :)

Ladkyis said...

The best food in the world is Continental lentil toad in the hole - a recipe from The Bean Book by Rose Elliott. In my copy it is on page 126 and my book falls open to the page. YUM!
I was a little late making my entry today because I got waylaid by the greengage jam - three and a hal pounes of it cooling in the kitchen as we speak

Melissa said...

I am sitting here smiling at the thought of that jar sitting in your locker all day with you mouth watering at the thought of cooked lentils!

I linked up this morning before church but have just now found time to sit & begin my storytelling reading this Sunday afternoon.

Scrappi Sandi said...

Aaah the optimism of youth!!...A lovely story & it conjurs up all sorts of images! I hope Mum did indeed have toast & jam for you!! :D

Wanda said...

It's hard for me to imagine you bitter, but it's obvious your creativity survived the deprivation of the school lunch program. Is it different for your children now, or are things pretty much the same as when you were a child?

Patrice said...

I love lentils too!

Ifa said...

Eugh...lentil soup wouldn't be that nice, would it ? I loved school lunches especially on Friday when we had chicken. It was a special treat to have meat in Malaysia in those days.

Linda said...

Love the idea of making lentil soup at school, and then you could sell it to all your mates:) I'm with you thought, these days I'd much rather stick than cook!

Beverly said...

It seems to me you had the right idea, just needed a radiator pouring heat into the classroom to help the process ;)

furrypig said...

we haven't had lentils for ages, I love your story... how sad to be hungry at school! Thanks for another great STS xxx

Jimjams said...

I was often hungry at school too - more because I was a fussy eater I think. We used to try and hide the food we wouldn't eat - pockets were often checked so it was wise to kick it under your neighbour's feet!
A great story, beautifully told!

Jennifer Grace said...

Great story! Though, not knowing much about lentils, I was thinking the story might end that the lentils had quadrupled in size and spilled out of your locker at lunchtime. Your ending was a little less dramatic but very well told, and now I've learnt a little about lentils!

I'm planning to post and link my sunday story on thursday, because it's a school story, and that's the day my daughter starts primary school! x

Barbara Eads said...

Although at 9, I wouldn't have known anything about lentils, I would think your plan was a good one. Too bad it didn't work out. If it had, you story today would have been very different---selling soup from your locker---I can see it now!

Chipper said...

Thankfully we didn't have school lunches :-) We brought our own, so if you didn't like it, you had no one else to blame but yourself as we were each in charge of making our own lunch!

I am still not a huge fan of lentils but I think that is just in the length of time it takes to cook them and not the taste. I am just a bit late this month but I made it. I will pop back on my day off on Wednesday to read them all if I don't make it back before.

Happy September to everyone! Chipper

Gail said...

Oh you must have been so disappointed with no soup for lunch. I guess we were lucky that we got to go home for lunch.

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