Zest Lit Issue 2, October 2013 - Page 14

Last supper | Katy Hastie

For someone who refused to eat, Aunt Martha was a brilliant cook. We used to marvel at the golden chicken adorning the table with little chef’s hats on the legs, just like a cartoon. Everything matched; from the napkins to the placemats to the forks, held in the correct hand, used to pierce precision-cut veg. For Afters the white chocolate gateaux was almost too good to eat and iceberg chunks of chocolate would fall off as it cracked. She never ate a slice.

The cooking process was hygienic and scientific and not for children to help with but to watch. With latex gloves she’d measure each ingredient to the gram and use thermometers to ascertain interior temperatures to the tenth of a centigrade. Her PhD in chemistry never went to waste.

On holidays with her and my Uncle Simon, where the deep ache of childlessness was eased by the palliative effect of our incessant fighting, she started each day with a full jug of coffee and topped it up with a fresh one from every establishment capable of providing one: every local museum and beach front café, service station and guest house kettle facility, every campsite and chip shop. Long walks, cold swims and uphill cycles were the order of the day and failing that, if restrained by the weather, she’d spend several hours on portable exercise machines that manipulated her in a puppet-like rhythm to the sounds of the local radio station.

After a long period of starvation the body starts to seek out and consume essential nutrients from wherever they can be found. Only once we had grown and she had shrunk did the full impact become