Gallery-CookerMy grandad called his kitchen the scullery.

Lots of people did in those days. It was a proper kitchen though, hidden at the back of a post-war Council house on what was then the edge of town.

And maybe if it wasn’t like a kitchen from Elle Decor, it was no cupboard and sink for the dirty dishes either. It would more than do. I can conjur it still from only the faintest memory.

These are the happy things I remember about it:

The blue and white metal tins with ingredients never used;
The third microwave;
The wipe down grease tablecloth;
The tomato sauce bottle shaped like a tomato;
The deep fat frier;
The wide stubby aluminium saltpot, like a doorstop;
The gerbils in their perspex-windowed box, running up the stairs, turning on their wheel, drinking their water;
The coffee in the same long tins that held my Uncle’s toy soldiers &
The back door to the garden, the greenhouse, the shed, the flowers & the sun.

Grandad made chips that nowadays might be called rustic or chunky chips. You’d get served them in a gastropub today in a cute little metal pail or a basket with red & white checked paper. Or in a pint glass.

Except maybe you wouldn’t; not chips like these. He made his jagged symbol stones by peeling the potatoes, cutting them in maybe four slices, big as orange segments, with the same precision he used a chisel, a knife as hand-edged. The tattie slices would be methodically dried, plunged in the fryer, lifted out for a bit, and then plunged again.

And somewhere, at some instinct-stage, there must have been a magic I missed in the blink of an eye. Because his chips were like no other chips. I have never replicated them, or tasted anything like them since. The memory of them crunches with a kind of shiny golden idiosyncrasy.

My grandad made the best chips I have ever tasted, and almost every time I get served good chips, or even bad & ordinary ones, I find myself thinking about how much I loved him.


North Sea Scullery is based in Scotland, by the North Sea.

We’re mostly a cookbook review site, and we write about new books & older books we love. We both buy books and get sent books by publishers. Sometimes we eat and drink stuff and go out, or get something new for the kitchen, and then we write about that too.

We spend at least a week making stuff from a cookbook, and try out at least four or five dishes. Usually we cook more. No one is trained, and we frequently get stuff wrong, but we we love food and do our best. If we don’t like a book in the end, or can’t get anything to work from it at all, we just skip it, and don’t post a review. We only go on to review books we really like & admire.

North Sea Scullery uses battered old Le Creuset cast irons that are about fifteen years old, assorted De Buyer & Genware pans, Zwilling 4 Star knives and a Prestige utensil set from the 1960s.

We have a new tap though: it’s from Ikea.