I grew up in an old English weatherboarded house in the country that had an Aga, a very particular kind of huge British double oven & stove range, which also heated all our hot water. It was useful in lots of ways. Made of cast iron, it radiated heat throughout the downstairs during the winter, and was hot enough to dry wet outer things, and defrost dishes of food on the back behind the hotplates.

There was a metal bar for tea towels along its length that was the perfect height for doing ballet exercises. The bottom oven was a warm chamber for cooking slow dishes over night, drying out meringues, and warming up sock lambs that had been abandoned in cold fields by their mothers overnight (We didn’t do this, obviously, but it was common practice.)

The Aga top oven makes perfect bread, brilliant pizza and well, anything my mother brought put of it was glorious.

But most of all I loved the two circular always-on hotplates, which were covered by heavy pull-up domes which kept the heat in and little fingers out. If you wanted to boil water, you needed to use a special Aga kettle, and they were also particularly brilliant for making toast in special wire racks that left criss cross marks on the bread. There’s a lovely scorchy taste, but the inside stays moist. An Aga really does make perfect toast. It’s the taste of my childhood.

Last week I went to Rose’s funeral in Leicestershire. She was the only person I knew who still had a proper kitchen range, and at the wonderful house parties at Home Farm, hosted by her and by her children Nick & Suze, we used to make piles of buttery toast in the morning, which was usually eaten with marmalade as we attempted to battle hangovers from long evenings drinking port around the silver laden mahogany dining table.

At her new house she had had an Aga installed, and the morning after the funeral I made buttery toast for everyone as we gathered in fits & starts in the new kitchen for breakfast. And silently thought of her.

Aga toast

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9 comments

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That toast sounds delicious.

It's incredible how memories of certain foods take us back.

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I dread the day I move and leave my aga behind. :0(

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The idea is not even allowed head room in this household, how does anyone manage without an Aga, I mean it’s lift a lid or open a door how less complicated is that, that’s the maximum amount of thought or effort required and it provides hot water, virtually heats the house, dries the washing and makes the best oxtail stew imaginable in the bottom oven, so why are they not fitted as standard, there should be a campaign to make them mandatory in new kitchens.

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Sort of everything I love about England combined into one elegant thread, LLG. Makes for very lumpy reading, I'm afraid. Thank you.

Love,

MissW xxxxx

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How wonderful to make more than two slices of toast at one time. I've come across Agas in books and such but have never heard the word aloud. Is it pronounced Ah-ga or Ay-ga?

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I couldnt live without my aga . i use it for everything Iron my sheets wet and then dry them over it. I also love to bake now . Cook casseroles, perfect pancakes and fantastic for warming ones bottom after a cold walk. Plus the dogs would leave home I am sure without being able to snuggle in front of it.

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Oh it's definitely an Ahh-ga! LLGxx

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I'm arriving late to this party, so I have to go back and read about the reasons for the funeral. My attendance has been spotty at best. I'm sorry about missing the related post(s).

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I loved reading about the Aga. I've read novels which featured them (don't ask which ones, I'll NEVER tell), and I always envisioned old-school kitchen behemoths, but never experienced an emotional connection to them like I did here, with your description.

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