Margot Henderson Remembers Childhood’s Odd Foods
“Margot Henderson is a lauded chef, cookery writer and the co-owner of Rochelle Canteen. First establishing herself at the French House in Soho, she is one of the pioneers of the seasonal British food revival. Henderson harkens from New Zealand, and [in the latest issue of food journal The Gourmand] she recalls the first time she had frogs legs, garden snails and the deep, earthy delights of a wild mushroom.”
“‘We were learning about France at primary school and our teacher told us to bring in snails from our gardens at home. We spent a few days drowning and cleaning them. Then, in the middle of the classroom, she fried up the snails in butter and garlic and breadcrumbs. I then began to cook snails for all of my mother’s dinner parties.
“‘… I had just finished my school exams and mum and dad took me to Le Normandie in the Cuba Street mall in Wellington. It was a time when old-school French restaurants were still very much a part of the culinary scene, and you couldn’t get a licence without having carpet in the loo.
“‘That day I had frogs legs and garlic for the first time. I felt so glamorous, sitting there in my St Mary’s uniform with waiters frothing around.
“‘I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed these dark, odd things: snails, frogs legs, and also wild mushrooms that my dad would cook. The smell was so intoxicating; it was of the earth and completely engulfed me. I knew that something that smelled that good must taste good too. I still don’t think food should have colour for the sake of it.’”
Original article by Margot Henderson, The Gourmand, June 2014.
Photo by Dominick Tyler.