Haute Cuisine


If you were ever lucky enough to be invited to one of Lecretia’s dinner parties, you were in for a real treat. When Lecretia cooked, she went all out.  She’d spend days planning and sometimes days preparing, and would craft a full dining event with appetizers followed by three amazing courses that concluded with a fantastic dessert, which was always her favourite course.

Lecretia taught me to really appreciate food, and to love good cooking. I used to be pretty feral in my approach to food – I was happy with pizza for dinner before I met her, sometimes a few nights in a row. But she introduced me to great restaurants and great chefs and great dishes, and some of our favourite evenings together were sitting across a table from one another at a top restaurant, working our way through a degustation menu, discussing politics, or the law, or love.

Sadly, Lecretia’s paralysis has meant that cooking duties have fallen to me. I’m a lot better than I used to be, but I’m nowhere near as good as her!

Lecretia’s friend Eileen was also a fan of Lecretia’s cooking:

I flatted with Lecretia when we were in our twenties. She was definitely the flat mum. We never said that to her face, but we did call her Mum when she wasn’t there. She did the responsible things like having her name on the lease and making sure bills got paid.

But, the real reason she was the flat mum was that she cooked for us. We all had turns rostered onto dinner of course. But there is cooking and there is cooking. Lecretia cooked. She didn’t just cook for us. When people at work had birthdays, or various occasions, she took in cakes she had made them. And that was what was so special about Lecretia’s cooking. Lecretia’s cooking had love in it.

My father used to bring us macadamia nuts. They reached us still in their shells and tied up in a woman’s stocking. My dad thought that was a clever solution to needing to dry the nuts in an airing cupboard for months in a ventilated way. Lecretia was far too gracious to point out just how eccentric that was. But, she did crack all those nuts, and turned them into the most amazing chocolate and macadamia nut cookies.

Lecretia used to say she had two requirements in a man. Sadly she never met a man who met both of them. The first was spelling ‘you’re’. Apparently nothing spoils a romantic note like saying ‘your beautiful’. Matt was the first boyfriend she had who could reliably spell “you’re”. The other criteria was the most undemanding criteria I’ve ever heard of, and how Matt could have failed to live up to her expectations is beyond me. The criteria was that he would have to like her cooking. Matt’s under-enthusiasm for cakes and biscuits was a source of disappointment for Lecretia. Fortunately she didn’t stick to her guns on this demand and I’m sure there were always people in her life prepared to take on the burden of letting her bake for them.

I used to be a bit in awe of her, perhaps I still am. As I waited to emerge from the dignity-free zone of my twenties she always had such poise. She was always amazingly turned out, but would never bore people with the details of how she made herself look so good (a welcome relief from the self-obsessed prattle of many well-turned out 20-somethings). I always thought she was classy. I learnt that she never held others to the same high standards she expected of herself. In fact, despite a few setbacks over the half-moved-in-stopped-to-get-drunk flatmate and rat-owner-flatmate, she is one of the most tolerant people I know.

I remember her family coming to visit and having expected them to be posh. They camped down in the lounge and I can imagine her brother’s big smile and her mum and dad on their other side of the room and finding out how young her mum was. She used to talk for hours on the phone with her mum, in her pyjamas.

I love Lecretia and I am so grateful for her friendship over these years. She really is one of the warmest people I have ever known.

  1. Thanks for sharing, Eileen. I am fortunate to have been baked and cooked for many times by my lovely niece. Most of our dinner party recipes have come from Lecretia. She’s amazing.

    • Yes, I don’t think anyone who has enjoyed Lecretia’s cooking ever forgets it!

  2. Hi Eileen, I enjoyed reading your story. Even as a teenager, Lecretia was always the most classy and poised amongst us. I was always in awe of how she always seemed so sure of herself and confident.

  3. So many insights into a beautiful life – thanks again for sharing.

  4. We’ve been lucky to have had Lecretia’s cooking. Two memories come to mind – the first is the softest, most delicious gnocci I’ve ever had. Lecretia, I would love your recipe, and one day I’ll summon the courage to try to make it myself. And the other memory is when Matt protested when Lecretia offered seconds of her amazing mushroom risotto, as that would mean he wouldn’t have any for his lunch the next day. You’re one in a million Lecretia. Actually more than a million – that short changes you. xx

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