We went out to eat Italian. Just me and mum. Mum and me. Alone! I was 12 years old and had never been out to dinner with just the two of us. Somehow my three siblings were at friends’ houses or busy with hobbies, and my dad was away working, so I had the treat of having Mum to myself. I will never forget how distinctly special and wonderfully grownup I felt, eating lasagna and drinking 7UP. It was the epitome of sophistication to a pre-teen who was desperate to be a woman (and wanted to be her mother’s best friend in the whole wide world).
That meal would be followed by countless meals with my mother, in which we giggle, gossip, and gorge ourselves. Since moving out of my childhood home in Cheshire, England, my mum comes to visit me in Liverpool every week and takes me out for dinner. In what has been a thrilling but tumultuous few years, these evenings have been a true gift—a haven of support, kindness, and uplifting (what my mum is best at).
In the artistic world in which I am determinedly trying to forge a career in, actors face a lot of rejection, and constant criticism about appearances—whether you’re “not pretty enough” or “too pretty” for a role, “too fat” or “not fat enough.” The judgments keep stacking up like unwashed dishes. My mother reminds me to believe in myself, gives me perspective, and assures me how utterly amazing I am (whether or not it’s true, it’s delightful to hear).
My joy of food comes directly from Mum. I love eating, and I eat a lot, but I was never made to feel embarrassed about it. Indulgences are relished in my family; there’s no guilt about enjoying food or putting on weight. My mum always placed the emphasis on kindness, intelligence, personality, and hard work, rather than subjective standards of beauty. So appearance is not what I value most. More than anything, I know that however tough life gets, I can go back home, whip up a refrigerator cake (a Deegan family classic), share it with my family, and then all my problems will feel that little bit less scary.
Molly Deegan is an actor studying at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Art; her website is www.mollydeeganactor.com.
8 oz. chocolate digestive biscuits
4 oz. Brazil nuts
4 oz. glacé cherries
10 oz. milk chocolate
4 oz. butter
5 oz. Golden Syrup (if you don’t have golden syrup, mix 2 oz. honey with 3 oz. corn syrup)
Butter and line a pan with parchment paper, and butter the paper. (Size doesn’t matter since the cake will not be baked.)
Smash biscuits and nuts into small pieces, and place in a big bowl with cherries.
In a metal bowl set over simmering water, melt the chocolate, butter, and golden syrup, stirring to make it smooth and glossy.
Add chocolate mixture to biscuit mixture.
Pour into the pan, smooth the surface, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.