My Nana Rose’s Pea and Ham Soup

I can remember the days when it seamed that everyone thought it was cool to throw rubbish from your car window (not at the drive through skip bin), and really cool to smoke cigarettes in the car with the kids in the back. A baby could be nursed in the front seat and even breastfed to keep it calm, and I don’t even recall if we had seatbelts.

We (and by we I mean they. And by they, I mean some crazy people who I don’t know) used asbestos to insulate our houses and fence our yards. Asbestos. They may as well have used effing plutonium.

We took our chicken and mayonnaise sandwiches to school in the middle of summer insulated only by a layer of sandwich paper and a star wars lunch box, and did not give it a second though to the concept of bacteria growth. I truly though there was nothing better then a warm chicken and mayonnaise sandy.

Selma-what? (I can’t even use a Simpsons reference right here cos I’m talking about the 70s).

We ate dirt and shit (not just a term here. Actual shit), sure some of us ate more refined dirt than others, and some even had their turd sandwiches made by personal chefs, but once again we cared not.

I’m not even sure if germs were invented back then. I don’t remember Ajax spray and wipe commercials. No wait… I just remembered. If you were suspicious of a germ type thing you’d nuke the fucker from orbit with straight bleach. We had to gargle with it from time to time too… and if you had a cut or scratch then mum or your school teacher (they were all qualified nurses back in the day) would douse it with some horrible stingy purple shit that caused pain that far over shadowed that which you were already feeling. I never saw any adult put that shit on themselves though… sadistic satisfaction at the expense of their children? I could think of crazier scenarios…

And the relevance of this story, you ask.

Minimal to none I would say. It’s just some things I remember about my youth (damn, there are Amazonian pygmies yet untouched by civilization that could’ve written a better segue then that).

Another fond childhood memory I have (which still lives on today) is my Nana Rose’s pea and ham soup. I remember the smell of her house as she would cook it for half a day, and it was a damn fine smell. I remember the pot she used to cook that, and any other soup she ever made in. I remember her, and my mother when she would make it, picking the meat off the ham hock really quickly with their fingers and a paring knife. Like a cat when you chuck it in a fire, or on a hot tin roof, or something… that was funny to watch. I remember sitting down to eat it with heaps of German rye bread and always Maggi seasoning. We always had Maggi seasoning with soup.

So right now I’m gonna do you a massive favour. I will stop talking shit and write the recipe down so you can go and get the four ingredients (five if you count bread, and six if you get the Maggi seasoning) to make my Nana Rose’s pea and ham soup.

1 smoked ham hock 500g-ish
1 cup yellow split peas
1 brown onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
• Get ready to be blown away by the simplicity of this
• In a pot, sweat off onion and carrot for a minute or two, until they are just starting to soften
• Add ham hock and 1.5lt of h20
• On a very low heat so it’s just ticking over, cook with the lid slightly ajar for a couple of hours
• Add split peas and cook for another 40-ish minutes
• The split peas should now look like someone has pureed them for you while you were not looking. If they don’t cook it for a little longer. If it needs a bit more moisture, add a bit more water. Just remember it’s meant to be a thick soup, eh
• Pull them ham hock out and shred the meat off it while it’s still piping hot so your kids can laugh at you and recount the same story later in life
• Check the seasoning
• German rye bread with heaps of butter and Maggi seasoning enter picture now

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