Salmon and Prawn Croquettes With Lemony Jalapeno Mayonnaise
The first three months of our lives in England were spent in a small urban flat that my husband had found for us before our arrival. As soon as we unpacked our suitcases, the clock started ticking because our household shipment was on its way and there was no way that our belongings were going to fit in our already cramped accommodations. Being unfamiliar with a whole new real estate market full of sky high prices and “gazumping,” we soon decided to rent a house on a quiet estate on the side of the city closest to our daughter’s new school. There was a park, a pub, a surgery, a grocery, and, for our summertime aromatic pleasure, a pig farm a couple of miles away. What more could a family need?! We were finally starting to settle in. Yes siree, this wasn’t going to be so hard after all.
I lived in this state of smug self appreciation until the head master and mistress of my daughter’s new school, who my readers might be interested to know resembled Julie Andrews and Hugh Grant (no kidding), presented me with the uniform list. When my husband and I decided to make this move, we were under the mistaken impression that we spoke English. I was quickly corrected when, upon reading the list, came across items such as plimsoles, and a kagool. Until this time I thought that plimsoles were an ’80’s new wave band. Never would I have guessed that they were also black slip on P.E. shoes. Live and learn. Reading further, I recognized items such as pinafores and jumpers but saw listed nowhere the sweaters that I noticed all of the children wearing as they entered the building. Oh boy. Ok, I thought, we’ll just sort it out at the uniform shop in Leicester... wherever that is.
Our school uniform safari set out the following Saturday morning. After queuing at the car park for what seemed like an eternity, we slipped our large car into one of the miniature parking spaces and somehow slid ourselves between our car and the one next to us. Long gone were the days of pulling our car up to the door of the shop and walking in. We now had to put a bit more effort into our shopping. We bundled up the children and hit the streets. Ten minutes later, fearing shaken baby syndrome, I removed my son from his American stroller that wasn’t made for the quaint cobbled streets of England, and carried the 15 pound baby the rest of the way. Exhausted, and soaking wet from a sudden cloudburst with gale force winds and sideways rain, we finally arrived at our destination.
The uniform superstore was a polyester wonderland. School uniforms in every imaginable color and style were on display. The super efficient sales lady took my tiny four-year-old by the hand and transformed her into a proper school girl in minutes. We bought pinafores, blazers, ties, overcoats, shirts, jumpers (a.k.a. sweaters), and yes, we even bought the most curious of all articles on the list, the kagool. I must admit, we were a little bit disappointed when this exotic sounding article turned out to be an ordinary windbreaker.
With every small hurdle we cleared, we came closer to feeling like we were home. It wouldn’t be long and we would start to blend in more and more. Even people in our area soon stopped asking us where we were from and telling us about their latest trip to Florida. The following Monday morning, our little girl arrived at her new school looking like everyone else. Mission accomplished. Her American accent began to fade and was replaced by her own homogenized blend of American and English accents. We realized through watching her that although originality is very important, blending in also means you belong and that’s what home really is, a place where you belong.
My accompanying recipe for this story is one of pure comfort and a great way to use that tin of salmon that came in your Christmas hamper. This updated version of an old favorite is not only great for a family supper but is also good enough to serve company.