I am sitting at my favourite spot in our house: on the stairs at our front door and look at a one meter deep hole next to me. We didn’t intend to plant a new fruit tree and Beeper didn’t decide to get to China while chasing a mole.
A couple of days ago we hear a strange noice just before going to bed. We are wondering where it comes from. I check the cellar, the summer kitchen, finally I find bubbling water in front of our house. Burst pipe.
In this moment I even love Áron more if possible, because going down to the mine water and close the stopcock in the middle of the night in darkness seem to me a heroic action.
This is also an occasion – among several since we moved in our house- when I realise that comfort and conveniences in an old house are not evident but more fragile factors and things that we take so obvious can be missed so much when it is not available. And it is hard to face the lack of running water. I cannot cook, I carry the dirty dishes to my mother in baskets to wash them. We move into her house with some clothes, our bedclothes and of course with Beeper. Our flowers look miserable after the last hot days so I carry water from the little creek which runs at the end of our plot to water them. After the second round I already feel tired and exhausted which makes me feel angry with myself and weak. I would like to make elderflower syrup but I need water to it and also to wash my hands so at least to feel doing something I start to dig and look for the water pipe until Áron arrives home. It is like treasure hunting but in this case the treasure is a rusty iron pipe which doesn’t seem to appear. On the top of it I don’t really know where I should exactly dig, and what I am exactly looking for. So it can easily happen that I get really enthusiastic when finding something until it turns out to be the sewage pipe. The next day we get some help and we find the water pipe, however water is dropping out of the foundation so we have to break the floor in the house.
What can I cook for you this time when our house is not liveable and we are commuting between our house and my mother’s house? Chocolate is always a good solution when you cannot really see the bright side of life and wild strawberries just became ripe in my mother’s garden.
A chocolate cream recipe pops into my mind which I found in an old Hungarian cookbook. In a couple of minutes I cook milk, dark chocolate and sugar to a thick chocolate sauce, add some gelatine and finally whipped cream when the sauce already cooled down. While I am tasting the first spoonfuls of chocolate cream sprinkled with wild strawberries slowly I get a bit more relaxed and try to see the positive side of the difficulties. For a short period of time I can be again my mother’s little girl: my mother’s cooks delicious dinners and helps me to finish the elderflower syrup. I can pick my favourite wild strawberries in the garden, and the little creek at the end of our plot helps us to keep our plants alive. And anyway…any problem in life will be sorted out somehow at some point.
And despite of all these difficulties I wouldn’t exchange this little house for anything in this world even with its small, sometimes scarce spaces, shabby roof, rusty water pipes and crannied stairs…
Because for some inexplicable reason we love it the way it is…with its imperfect perfection.
Chocolate cream with wild strawberries
(based on the recipe from a cookbook from the 1930’s written by Erzsébet Hunyadi)
Ingredients (for 6 people)
120 g sugar
120 g dark chocolate
200 ml milk
4 sheets of gelatin
500 ml cream
two handful of wild strawberries
Cook milk, sugar and chocolate until chocolate melts and it gets a thick chocolate sauce. Remove from heat. Soak gelatine sheets in cold water for 5 minutes, wring gently to remove excess water than add to the chocolate sauce. Let it cool down. Whip cream and gently fold into the chocolate until well-combined. Fill into glasses top with wild strawberries and chocolate chips. Keep it refrigerated until serving.