When we got married we had mixed feelings about whether to use a gift registry service. We didn't want to ask for gifts, particularly as many guests were travelling long distances for the wedding. Additionally, we had been engaged for two years (exactly, we got married on the same date as The Husband proposed), and moved in to our house the week after our engagement, so we had already acquired most general household items. The simple answer would have been to not do one, but there was one big problem. We really didn't want to miss out on running round the shop playing with the scanning machines.
So as it was, we had a day of scanning things, and I then had another day of deleting all the things that The Husband added when I wasn't looking. We made the gift list available if people specifically requested it, and were overwhelmed with peoples’ generosity. One of our guests kindly bought us this popcorn maker from our list. I remember my Dad seeing it when he visited us and asking whether we used it much, and the two of us responded so emphatically, whilst giving such an enthusiastic demonstration, I think he was on the verge of buying one himself.
My love for home-popped popcorn goes back to a very special person in my life, my Gran. I know already she will become a recurring theme on this blog, and I cannot even begin to do justice to what an influence she was to me in a post about popcorn, so I will try, instead, to stay on topic. Gran had a way of making anything she did seem like the greatest treat imaginable, planned entirely for the purpose of having fun with you. She was also the coolest Gran in the world, she was the first person I knew to have a computer or the internet, she bought me my first computer (an Amiga – if you’re interested in retro gaming) and first mobile phone, she knew more about RAM and PC specifications than most adults half her age and even taught me to play computer games (you cannot even imagine how well she and The Husband got on).
So it is no surprise that Gran was twenty years ahead of the game with popcorn too. One day when I was visiting she lifted out a bag of kernels. It occurs to me now she must have intentionally gone to buy them, specifically for the purpose of an afternoon of fun, so that we could share a new experience. I wonder if she had any idea what memories she was making for me. I remember the big heavy bottomed saucepan, a dash of oil, and the rattle of the kernels as they poured into the pot. Shaking in salt and sugar, feeling like she was imparting an amazing culinary secret when she told me they brought out the flavours in each other.
I remember taking it in turns to agitate the pan, holding the handle in one hand and keeping the lid in place with the other. The surprise of that first pop hitting the lid, listening intently for the next ones to follow. Which they did, single snaps at first, followed by a crescendo of explosions, an unexpectedly loud eruption of noise. It gradually ebbed away, looking at my Gran in the silence, reaching for the cover, only to be interrupted by another rogue kernel misfiring late. The joy of finally lifting the lid and seeing a full pan of popcorn, flowing over the sides, it was like the easiest magic trick in the world.
Popcorn will always be one of my favourite snacks, and I get that same childish excitement every time we lift out our big red pan. The Husband and I both stand with stupid grins waiting for the first pop, and laughing at the scattergun of kernels against the lid. Standing in front of the stove listening to that noise, smelling the popcorn, shaking the pan, I am always transported to my Gran’s kitchen, and that feeling of her standing with me, sharing with me a secret, making even the simplest of things seem magical.