Times Change For Sister Joan – Episode 12

HOW did you become a chef?” Madeline asked.

“I have worked very hard and studied hard and then I was able to buy my own restaurant. It is a long story – not relevant to my life now.”

“Tell us, where was this restaurant?” Joan could AFTER supper Joan announced that there would be a surprise for them in recreation time.

“Shall I ask Sister Benedict to join us?” Sister Emma asked.

“Good idea,” Joan replied. “I want you to see what Sister Gianna has brought to us from the Mother House and it’s high time that Sister Benedict got to know us. It will do her good to know that we are all concerned for her. It must be lonely up there at the top of the house.”

Imelda had started a fire in the hearth to make it cosy, as it was one of those chilly evenings in early summer, and they all settled down to hear what Joan had to say. Sister Emma came into the room, smiling. Sister Benedict was with her and Emma kindly helped her to sit down on a chair near the fire. The nun held out large, capable hands to the warmth, keeping her eyes shyly downcast all the while.

Joan came into the centre of the room with Gianna’s book under her arm.

She held it up.

“A cookery book,” Sister Amy observed.

“Nice and colourful,” Sister Louise remarked.

Madeline came forward and peered at the cover.

“Why, it’s signed ‘Gianna Rosella’!” she exclaimed.

Gianna blushed.

“Yes, I wrote it.”

“You’re a cook?” an astonished Sister Clare burst out.

“I’m a chef,” Gianna replied, a little haughtily.

“So, how come you burned the porridge this morning?”

“Now, Sisters,” Joan said hastily, “we won’t go into all that again. I’m sure Sister will know how to do it next time.”

sense that Clare was interested.

“It was in Naples,” Gianna replied.

“Ah.” Sister Louise smiled. “The famous Mediterranean diet. We have some excellent tomatoes in the garden, you know.”

“There is nothing quite as nice as sun-ripened pomodori.” Gianna clapped her hands.

“There she goes again!” Clare exclaimed.

“Well, I hope there will be sunshine here soon.” Imelda glanced out of the window. “For it’s raining at the moment. Jolly cats and dogs.”

There were smiles and laughter around the fireplace that evening as the nuns took it in turns to look through the cookery book.

“Are you famous?” shy Sister Emma wanted to know.

Gianna glanced at Joan who nodded her head slightly.

“Yes, I have had some fame. But now I must remember my vocation and put the book into the past.”

“Not too far into the jolly past, I hope,” Imelda said, turning the pages. “I’d like a taste of some of the recipes in here. We should keep this in the kitchen, don’t you think, Mother?”

“The little library would be the best place for it,” Clare said firmly. “Then we can refer to it when needed. However, I’ve never had to refer to a cookery book. My dear mother taught me everything I know.”

“So did mine,” Gianna put in.

Joan picked up the book.

“I think we’ll put it in the kitchen with the other cookery books to which Sister Clare never refers.”

The nuns laughed and agreed, and Gianna fell into a deep conversation with Amy and Louise about vegetables. Sister Madeline sang the praises of the medicinal qualities of raw salads and Imelda listened intently, obviously hoping that a date would be set for the first Italian meal.


Alison Cook