Thursday, 15 March 2012

How we used to eat...

There was an article on the BBC News website yesterday about "forgotten foods" that people would like to revive, that got quite a few people talking on Twitter. 

There was quite a lot of food on there that even just the mere thought of could turn my stomach - cows udders, beef tea and brawn are all things I'm quite happy to leave in the past. Other mentions surprised me - things like gypsy tart and damson jam - I have to say I'm only 32 and hadn't realised these had gone away, they certainly haven't in my house!

It got me thinking about food of my childhood that I never eat now for whatever reason. Maybe because it's not available now or more likely that my tastes have become a little bit too sophisticated to be dining on butterscotch Angel Delight after my tea each night.

My parents are people with simple tastes, you're not likely to get a pizza, pasta dish, Chinese or Indian style meal at their house. They're strictly meat and vegetable people. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a limiting thing and my memory of dinners as a child are things like sausage and mash, pie and potatoes and the worst? Faggots, potatoes and cabbage.

I hated and still hate faggots. My mum hates faggots. Why oh why would you force these on your children?! I haven't eaten a faggot since about 1991 and yet I can still remember the taste vividly even though I used to smother them in liberally in tomato ketchup. (A trick my son has learned from me to disguise food he'd rather not eat).

When my mum got a microwave in the late 80's, I was finally treated to a pizza. Yes, a microwavable pizza. I'm pretty sure until I was about 15 I thought that pizza had to be tasteless and soggy to be authentic.  Microwave burgers in buns and squidgy jacket potatoes followed. It's safe to say there is no microwave in my kitchen but one resides out in the garage for emergency popcorn making...

Tinned spaghetti, Findus Crispy Pancakes and cheese sandwiches (those plastic orange slices) were often as exciting as it got. Is it weird I don't ever remember having a ham sandwich?!  We always had vegetables but frozen of course and pudding (only on a Sunday) was always tinned fruit, normally fruit cocktail with evaporated milk. Perhaps the food of my childhood has made me the way I am - more adventurous with food and cooking. I mean, I hadn't eaten a prawn until I was 22. TWENTY-TWO. 

I don't really blame my parents, it was the height of convenience food and cooking wasn't necessarily the pleasurable hobby and task it is for many of us these days. And then there's cost. I have no idea about how much things cost in the 1980's but both my parents were in low-paid shift work for the NHS. They didn't have a lot of spare cash and they didn't have a lot of spare time, nor the inclination I guess as they still are simple cooks and eaters.

When I read that back it's really quite shocking, especially as I am such a big food-lover and try so hard to be creative and adventurous with our dinners. Maybe it wasn't as bad as I remember, I'm sure my parents would say otherwise if I asked them! Lets hope my own children can look back on their childhood eating a little more favourable than I can!


  1. I am abit of a terrible mother and my children will most probably look back wondering why i didn't give them finer food, but i am not very adventurious in the kitchen and meat and two veg is pretty much the majority of our dishes, however i don't give them faggots, surprisingly even with my modest cooking don't have a microwave, so no slimy pizzas or microwave burgers here and pasta is something i have conquered so I've got to be abit better than your parents right?!

  2. Spaghetti hoops on toast - I can't think why we had pasta on toast. Baked beans I can understand but pasta on toast is wheat on wheat.

    I had to google faggots - I only knew the slang meaning. Not that much different from what we used to call Kishke (kishke meaning gut or intestines in Yiddish). Without the pork or bacon of course.

  3. My parents were very unadventurous too. We went to the Chinese regularly as children but I don't think I had a proper curry until I was in my twenties.

    I'm very like you - I try to make things exciting, varied and adventurous. My children are still at the stage of "Mum, why do you HAVE to do different things? Can't we just have the same thing every day" but I think it is a factor in them being such good eaters.

    I do have a microwave but I don't use it to make whole meals very often. It mainly gets used to make porridge, and heat various things up instead of placing on a hob.

    I hated spaghetti hoops (still do) but my kids love them. What's that all about?

  4. I was the opposite. My parents were very foodie, most things were home-made and they were - and still are - very adventurous. My dad went on a course to learn to cook amazing curries, food was a very important thing in our house. My grandparents were traditional, meat and two veg eaters so I got that side of it too but sometimes I wished we ate the same food as some of my friends. I rebelled at one point and would only eat instant mash.

    Now I love food. Try and make out diets exciting and introduce my daughter to a whole variety of food, as well as the more traditional meals.

    My husband grew up on a chips and bean heavy diet and still fancies it occasionally now. As I'm typing, he's cooking himself one of those frozen french bread pizzas!

  5. Clipped Curves4 October 2013 13:21

    Oh gosh. Tinned fruit cocktail with tip top... I remember it well. There was usually a fight over the single half cherry in every tin.


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