Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Aga Blame

A friend asked me about my "Aga Bonding" today and I have to admit that, as Agas do, the thing is growing on me.  I am not sure whether I've been in denial about my food habits/secret desires, but up until a week or two ago I would have described myself as a food lover who was: happy to eat out; delighted to receive culinary treats from friends and family; cool with holding a big dinner party four times a year; and fine with living on toast-in-between.  Becoming a mother forced me into regular food preparation. Marrying a farmer has raised the stakes again. And now we live with a four oven AGA.

Over cocoa last night, I sat down with Joe and told him the story of the Aga we had in Wales.  The hotplate covers were for drying snow soaked mittens, the coolest oven warmed sick piglets (often while a roast was happening in the hot oven), coal used to go down a hole in the top, and we all burnt our fingers and toes on the handle of the door that reads: "Keep Tightly Closed".  Joe got his arm stuck between the rail and the stove top the other day and I felt his panic. I'd been there before.   I remember tracing out the cursive, raised AGA letters on the front. Joe thinks the font is ridiculous, the swirls unnecessary.

Here at Burrowye Station, the Aga is the only thing that survives from the original house. The weatherboard homestead burnt down in the 1950's, and a spanking new brick house was built...around the Aga.  Like many new generation families moving back to the family property, we talk about how this house faces the wrong way, how we lose the northern light in a utility room and how really the kitchen should be where the master bedroom is.  But, unlike other new generation families, I think we're going to stick with things as they are.  A lick of pillar box red paint here and there could well be the extent of our renovations. We hear stories about the vast expense of new Aga stoves and the vast expense of converting this one to gas and we assume any attempt at re-locating it would be out of the question.

The Aga has three cooking ovens going, simultaneously, at different temperatures.  You approach it with the intention of slow cooking a roast, then a pudding becomes essential and, while you're at it, a slab of slice and some biscotti suddenly seem like a good idea. The warm metal plate beside the hotplates is perfect for rising dough or making yoghurt - although not simultaneously because the yeast does funny things with the milk culture.

Am I sounding like a devotee? Am I one of those Aga people?  James himself is showing signs.  He slipped back into bed at about 3 am the other morning.  In this day and age, most wives would suspect a bit of internet trawling had been going on. After mild interrogation he confessed. He'd been sitting up beside the Aga, drinking tea.

And me? I'm still living on toast-in-between. And working two days in week in a cafe kitchen.  Cooking food.  And loving it. Sometimes I stop and pinch myself and wonder to what extent that Aga is to blame.


  1. Fantastic Charlotte. You're like Country Style come to life - but in a non-airbushed, fantasy way. Now I want my Aga back and will see if my writer-other can't be converted into a farmer...

  2. Thanks Ira! It's nice to be writing a bit again. xx Char.