There’s no doubt that Lynnelle was the Queen of Chutney Makers in her gated community. Her chutney-making skills were legend. In fact half the gated community would ask that if they got the ingredients, would she make the chutney. Of course Lynnelle always said yes. And so it was that her kitchen, dining room and sitting room stank of white vinegar, and malt vinegar, and cider vinegar, and wine vinegar, and every other type of vinegar, for a good four to five months of the year.
Every week in autumn she would sell her chutneys at the Saturday village market. It didn’t take long for the chutneys made during the week to be sold. Someone suggested she raise the prices but Lynnelle said “it was a community service”.
When a new person arrived in the gated community she heard of Lynnelle’s generosity, and without asking turned up with boxes of vegetables and various ingredients and said she had heard Lynnelle made chutney for nothing and she wanted some. Lynnelle said goodness gracious that’s a lot of vegetables! This lot will take me more than a week to make. And indeed it was a lot and must have cost a packet at the greengrocers.
The new neighbour, whose name was Nancy, said she didn’t like the chutney. She didn’t hand it back either. She kept it and demanded that Lynnelle compensate her for the expensive vegetables that had been squandered.
Lynnelle and the entire neighbourhood told Nancy to go take a running jump. Nancy was last seen at the Saturday village market selling homemade chutney for an exorbitant price.
Rhoda was an enthusiast. Sometimes she was accused of not being able to stick to something, but it was nothing like that at all. She would do something for a year, and then move on to another interest. All her interests had something to do with food. Two years ago she was into making pickles and chutneys. She had cupboards full of every combination; fig and leek chutney for example, and apple, rosemary and mango. Last year she was into breads; she made every type of bread under the sun. And this year (she had been given a book for Christmas) she was into edible weeds.
Until her Christmas gift – Edible Weeds of the World – Rhoda had no idea that so many of the plants growing wild were able to be eaten. First she tried wild onion. It grew everywhere. It seemed to be a cross between onion and garlic, and the leaves, flowers and bulbs could all be devoured. Why anyone would ever need to buy onions and garlic and chives after this discovery was anyone’s guess. Wild onions were as common as anything.
And then there were gorse flowers, and wild nasturtiums, and the roots and uncurled fronds of specific ferns, and fennel, and mint, and thistle heads, and… Quickly, Rhoda’s edible weed menu grew and developed into a huge and burgeoning thing of wonder. She foraged and found and used all sorts of weeds she hadn’t even known existed.
It was such a shame when she poisoned her whole family.