Pizza Toast Recipe ~ Tribute to Grace by Son Mark Antrobus aka Govind

by on April 4, 2009

This post is a tribute from a devoted son for his mother. The tribute recipe is Pizza Toast, a delicious vegetarian recipe perfected by Mark Antrobus for his mother, the wise beautiful Grace.

 

Mother Son Tribute with Pizza Toast

Jigyasa and myself were first introduced to Mark Antrobus by Padmini Mani, the Managing Trustee of My School Satya Surabhi in Kodaikanal, of which we are trustees too. Padmini Aunty said, “This is Mark, my most remarkable friend – generous, bright and friend to all.”

 

There are so many qualities that make our friend Mark Antrobus likeable. His keen intelligence, his deep spirituality, his philanthropic tendencies, his calm acceptance of whatever life may offer, his passion for knowledge, his thoroughness in whatever he does, for instance, his research into the etymology of Dravidian languages…and of course, his very handsome features. But to us, above all, what simply bowls us over is his relationship with his mom, Grace. Bubbly, super-intelligent, humourous absolutely stunning ‘English mem’ – that’s Grace in a nutshell.

 


When we met Grace at hundred, the question that Pratibha’s philosophical mind came up with was – “Grace, you have seen life in all its hues – you have been through world wars, separations, love, loss…everything. So what is it that matters most? Wealth, love, relationships, comfort, knowledge – what?”

 

Can we ever forget that wistful look in Grace’s eyes which turned to sharp clarity as she said, “To know that you have a mind and that it works.” Thank you Grace, for that wisdom which transcends knowledge and time.

 

Tributes

Is it devotion, is it duty, is it gratitude, is it simple maternal bonding…..it is difficult to pin down a word to describe what one perceives when one sees mother and son together. All we can say that its always such a pleasure to see them together. There is no burden of duty there, neither the overpowering nature of devotion. Perhaps, what we really want to say is that when we see them, we just see love, an uncomplicated childlike love.

 

When we told Mark that we would like to pay a tribute to Grace on her 101st birthday, he immediately took the initiative, and with his natural, calm efficiency this is what he shared with us. The pictures taken by his friend Dr Vivek. M speak for themselves.

Mark Antrobus writes

My name is Mark Antrobus, Grace Wardell is my mother; born in 1908, she recently celebrated her 101st birthday and is now “running” 102 years, as we say in Tamil Nadu. She has led a very active life undergoing the Blitz of London during the Second World War as the first woman Features Editor of a national newspaper, The London Daily Express.

 

Vegetarian recipes

I came to India in 1967 at the age of twenty one and would have come earlier if it were possible. My own association with India was a spiritual one with a love of the local traditions, philosophy, language, and people. I was given the name Govind. After the tragic death of my stepfather in a 1969 road accident in the U.K. my mother Grace followed me out to India settling in Kodaikanal while I lived in ashrams and villages in the plains. We used to see each other quite often while living our separate lives.

 

Living a full life

She continued to live here while I went back to the west. After some years I returned to India and I have been looking after her ever since. She loves India but cannot handle spicy food. Grace likes strong flavours, however, and the following recipe–based on the Italian pizza–I came up with as a tease to her palate.

 

Grace

 

Pizza Toast ~ A Recipe for my mother, Grace

I invented this with the huge disks of Swedish Rye you get in US, but it works for any toast. The basics are mayonnaise, fresh tomato and cheese, the rest is variable, according to taste. The trick I discovered is the mayonnaise; it prevents the tomatoes from getting the toast or rye crackers soggy.

 

Ingredients:

  • Fairly thin toast, brown bread or Swedish Rye Crackers (knoc- brot) if available
  • Eggless Mayonnaise
  • Blanched tomatoes, peeled (Grace does not like tomato skins) sliced into thin wheels
  • To tweak this into a Jain recipe, avoid the onions and garlic.
  • Thyme, dried, if fresh: finely chopped
  • Fresh basil if available: chopped
  • A few olives, if available, sliced
  • Anything else you’d put in a pizza, like a few drops of olive oil
  • Crushed garlic
  • A few crystals of salt
  • A few thin slices of raw onion
  • Chilli seed (except when preparing for Grace)
  • Cheese, fresh, grated
  • Also some Parmesan if available

Method

  1. Pre-toast the bread or rye crackers lightly.
  2. Spread the mayonnaise covering evenly right to the edges.
  3. Place the tomato slices to cover the mayonnaise.
  4. Sprinkle a few olive slices, thyme, fresh basil, a few crystals of ground rock salt over the tomatoes, a few drops of olive oil, even thinly grated lemon peel, chilli seeds, smashed fennel seed, etc., as to your imagination and preference.
  5. Grate fresh cheese over the tomato to cover generously and sprinkle in some Parmesan for piquancy.
  6. Place in an overhead grill until the cheese melts. Try not to burn the bottom of the toast. If you do not have an electric grill you can also heat a frying pan and place a mud pot lid over it, after heating up the lid and turning off the gas flame, lift the lid and place in the toast. This ambient heat is enough to melt the cheese.

A note on blanched tomatoes. Immerse ripe tomatoes in boiling water for a few seconds. Retrieve them before they cook and allow them to rest on a plate enough for the skins to split. Peel skins making sure to also gouge out the top stem receptacle. Slice into wheels in a plate, leaving behind the juices.

Twilight

This Pizza Toast makes a great snack for a party, can be pre-prepared, and kept in fridge, or even eaten cold after the event, but best fresh hot out of the grill.

Blissful cooking,
Mark aka Govind

Photographs by VIVEK. M, Bangalore

 

Hope you enjoyed this recipe. Click to read many more heartwarming tributes and recipes. Share a few lines about your favourite family recipe in the comment form below. The joy of documenting tribute recipes is an experience in itself. It connects generations.

 

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

joseph kennedy co February 14, 2016 at 1:07 pm

Good work Mark. Colorado misses you.

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