Nana’s corner

My mother was an excellent cook and baker. With everything in her life, she strived for perfection. In the preparation, in the cooking, in the presentation and in the cleaning down. She would describe it as the way of a lady. I would describe it as advanced OCD! Whatever the process, the taste was always the same. Phenomenal.

And what was my mother’s name? She used a variety – Eileen, Eileen Veronica, Eileen V. Ellen Veronica, Ellen V., E. Veronica, Eibhlín and the variations go on. She gaelic-ised Veronica into ‘Bheronica’ and not the less favourable Irish name: ‘Buadhnait.’

There was nothing cute about using all these names. The routine nature of my mother’s life meant she did not require aliases of any sort. Her penchant to vary them was particularly problematic as she used these at whim. In the days where credit cards were swiped by machine. I cringed every time when my mother asked ‘What name did I use on that card?’ making me worried that someday the police would be called and she’d be accused of fraud. When an official would ask what name was she registered under? My response would always be “Do you have a pen and paper as you will need to take these down?”

So what did people call her? Friends and family called her ‘Eileen’. I called her ‘Mum’, my brother called her ‘Ma’ and then ‘Eileen’ as he asserted his status as an adoptee. And my dad? He called her Eileen, Foxy or ‘Bon.’ Eileen because that was her name. Foxy because she was cunning rather than a foxy lady. And ‘Bon’? While it might sound like ‘good’ to French speakers, it is anything but. It was a shortened, misspelt, term of ‘endearment.’ Sometimes my father called her by the full pet name – unfortunately across a crowded room where my father would yell ‘Banbh’ which translates as ‘Piglet’.

For these recipes, I will stick with the more benign ‘Eileen’.