When my brother was young my parents hired a lady named Nora to help around the house and look after the two of us when they were at work or out. She used to cook us lunch or dinner if mum and dad were out, she’d make snacks and bites that the whole family adored, my personal favourite were fried balls of mashed potato that were stuffed with delicious mince, they came out almost the size of my hand but I could still eat at least four in a sitting and that was only because I wasn’t allowed any more.
I never knew how she made them because she always cooked in her kitchen; I was perplexed by the perfection of each ball and how she got the mince inside the potato in the first place…was it magic?! One day though she came and asked me if I wanted to help her make them – obviously I jumped at the chance.
We sat on the floor of her room surrounded by bowls, I looked around confused my all the ingredients. There was a large bowl of cooled mince and another of cooled, boiled potatoes, then there were three smaller bowls filled with flour, egg and breadcrumbs. My first job was to mash the potatoes – I gave it a try but struggled to get them smooth so Nora soon took over. After that she showed me how to build them, taking a spoon of potato in your hand you roll it into a ball and make a well, then you fill it with mince before smoothing the mash closed and rolling into a ball; each one I made was inspected to make sure the coating was thick enough and then onto the dipping.
I loved plunging the balls into the egg, getting messy and slimy, before rolling them in the flour and breadcrumbs…that I was good at. Once they were all made – I even got to make a mini one with the little bit that was left over – Nora showed me how she cooked them, but I wasn’t allowed to help (an 8 year old and a large pan of hot oil is not a good idea). I was fascinated by the process, watching the ball bubble, turn golden and pop up to the top; she spooned them out onto plates of kitchen towel I had prepared earlier and we waited for them to cool.
When they were finally ready I took a plate inside to proudly show my parents, and then I ate them all.