Food Memories

January 30, 2009 at 3:06 pm 4 comments

bread

I was thinking just recently about how different food and meal times are today than when I was growing up in the 1970s and 80s.

This was a time before most people had heard of a microwave and the slow cooker, pressure cooker and sandwich toaster were at the cutting edge of modern kitchen technology. You bought your greens from the greengrocer (or granddad’s garden), your bread from the baker, your dried goods from the grocer, your meat from the butcher, your fish from the fish shop, and, your booze from an off-license and the only take-away options were fish and chips or a Chinese – and neither would deliver. This was a time when the fruit and vegetables available in the supermarkets and greengrocers changed with the seasons and came in all kinds of non-uniform shapes and sizes. Esther Rantzen built her career on odd-shaped vegetables. The hypermarket was still a strange, foreign French phenomenon back then and Brussels had yet to begin to interfere too much.

Every main meal would feature potatoes – new, boiled or mashed (or creamed), or, more typically chipped. The chip pan was often a family heirloom passed down through the ages and with the oil rarely changed across the generations. These were proper chip pans – the kind that burnt your house down if left unwatched. No namby pamby oven chips or deep fat fryers for us. And, this was proper fat – proper artery clogging lard, dripping and the like. Not a poly unsaturated , extra virgin, or groundnut back in the day.potato

Every main meal also featured bread. No baguettes or ciabattas or pittas for us. It was sliced white with butter (or dripping) every time. I can still see my grandma sitting on the sofa and roaring at the wrestling on a Saturday afternoon while the butter softened on the hearth next to the gas fire in the lounge. Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy used to get her going. Saturday teas sometimes consisted entirely of jam sandwiches – my dad’s favourite.

The Sunday roast used to last for days. Big chunks of meat that always had a bone which I would pick clean while stirring mom’s home-made gravy. No Bisto or ready-made in our household. Sunday lunch would be followed by cold meat and bubble and squeak or a cottage/shepherd’s pie on a Monday or maybe a risotto (minced meat and rice) or a homemade pie. Mom had her own contraption for mincing meat.

mincerThere was always a homemade cake. A scone, a rock cake, a Madeira, Victoria sponge, coffee, or, fruit cake. Licking the bowl clean after a baking session was often a weekend treat. Sunday lunches were often completed by a pie or a crumble using apples, gooseberries or rhubarb from my granddad’s garden. Sunday teas were often followed by tinned fruit and condensed milk or Angel Delight – heaven in a packet.

Meals were always traditional. Spaghetti Bolognese was an exotic treat while curries (Vesta) were made by adding water to a dried powder and they always contained sultanas.

Cheese came in only a few flavours – Cheddar, Cheshire, Stilton (at Christmas)  and magic little triangles of Dairylea.

These were happy days full of fresh, homegrown, homemade comfort food. While I enjoy today’s variety, ethnicity, and, ready availability, I do think that the modern ready meal, pre-made sauces, stocks and blah, blah, blah are lacking in something.

Now, what’s for dinner?

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. freethinkeruk  |  February 5, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Arh the nostalgia of it all, I’m salivating with the memory.

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  • 2. matildagretchen  |  February 16, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    Hi Middleman! Ah the memories – I always had Angel Delight washed down with Creamola Foam. Or cream soda with a scoop of vanilla ice cream in it.

    A piece and butter was THE ONLY snack option before my dinner!

    Brilliant blog, I’ve really enjoyed reading so far!

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  • 3. jmwinn  |  February 17, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Great post, Middleman. As my childhood spanned the eighties and early nineties, I was raised during the “transition” and likely missed out on many of the natural foods from the preceding decades. Yet there is still the nagging sense that much has been lost even in my lifetime. For instance, I often wake in the night longing for a bottle of Dr. Pepper from 1990, when real sugars and natural syrups combined for a truly delightful drink.

    I suppose we should cherish what we have now, for I’m sure even a 2009 edition of a pound of 80-20 ground beef will be a delicacy of sorts 20 years from now.

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  • 4. Tim GARRATT  |  January 13, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Brilliantly funny – my Grandma used to warm the dripping on the fireplace whilst watching the wrestling – Mick McManus, remember him? Dripping that oozed taste and gravy at the bottom – then heavily salted! Very healthy!

    Not sure if you have seen Eddie Izzard on tour (un-stripped) but he does a sketch about the cake mix – very funny! He, right, pronounces the micx to be better than the baked cake!

    Matilda – wow coke with ice cram on the top – heaven in 1974! Just around the time of the first cheesecake!

    Bring back real food – leave the salad to the rabbits!

    Great blog – Tim
    http://www.timgarrattnottingham.co.uk

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