Monday, 1 February 2010

The Good Old Days?

Everybody seems to want us to go back to the cooking of a previous generation.

delia decades I have been watching 'Delia Through The Decades' and finding myself thinking "I had that book, I had that dress - gracious, I even had that haircut!!!"

I was with some colleagues at school last week, and we all agreed, that Delia's great success was giving recipes which, if followed exactly to the letter, always worked!


mums know best I am also watching the Hairy Bikers "Mums know Best". I confess to a slight problem with Dave and Si in this series- yes, they are very entertaining, but their recipes [and those of their guests] haven't left me feeling "Wow, I want to go and try that out!" Furthermore, the recipes do tend to err on the side of high sugar, high fat' high calorie treats. I suppose that is inevitable - many of these heirloom imagerecipes date back to a time when ordinary families were involved in a lot of hard physical labour, and needed inexpensive carbs to fill them up  - cakes and pastries and pies and puds. And unlike Delia's meticulous recipes, they are alarmingly vague sometimes. We couldn't understand why the cornbread was so white - you have to read the recipe on the website to discover it is made with white cornmeal.

goodgranny Following the 'traditional recipes' theme, I picked up this book in the library. Written by Jane F-W, mother of the ever-enthusiastic Hugh, it is an interesting read.

But she keeps on about "Taking a trip down memory lane for my generation" [She was born in 1939] and gets her friends to contribute their favourite childhood recipes.

This is a completely different set of people to the ones who speak to the Hairy Bikers. Whereas the HB set tend to be working/middle class people, JFWs mates are quite definitely middle/upper class. So there are lots of references to nannies, cooks, shooting parties and boarding school. I remember my Mum saying that if it was a good day, she might get a slice of 'bread and dripping' when she got in from school - she certainly didn't have 'Gentleman's Relish on Toast'!Furthermore, we had rationing in this country till 1954 - but the young Jane managed to eat pretty well if her stories are accurate. For her 13th birthday, her parents took her, plus a schoolfriend, to dinner at a Greek Restaurant in London.

Our eating habits have changed so much - and we have so much more choice available to us now - even compared to 40 years ago, when Delia started.

I can remember clearly the first time I sampled yogurt [1970] and 'real' spaghetti [not Heinz stuff in a tin] - that was 1973. My first avocado was in 1976, and the first time I tasted smoked mackerel was 1982. But those items feature regularly in my supermarket trolley these days.

What are your 'food memories' ?


  1. "Toast" is a good food memories book, Angela. He (Nigel Slater?) is a bit older than me but I share some of his memories, for example the strange notion that Arctic Roll was a treat. It was!

    We lived with my Grandma who baked wonderfully, but had fallen into the 1970s notion that labour-saving food was a wonderful innovation. Therefore we had fresh fish from Brixham fish market, fried in strange orange 'breadcrumbs' from a packet! We were also allowed to choose a cake from the baker's once a week, and I always had a macaroon and my sister always had a doughnut.

    Thanks for these fun memories!

  2. Hi Angela-
    MMMMMmmm you reminded me of my first ski yogurt. It was a snowy day probably about 1970 and the yogurt had partially frozen - it was strawberry and I can still taste it and it was the best yogurt ever - lol!
    I don't even like that flavour anymore!!
    I love the HB prog - got the book! Can't stand Jane FW - 'nother world love, 'nother world. And love the mature Delia as we get to see what she is really like rather than the prissy perfect girl she was expected to be:)
    My Mom is horrifed by all these TV chefs as she says they all use too many ingredients so it's costly - I guess she has a point.

  3. In Japan, the American and Canadian missionaries used to cook from the MORE WITH LESS COOKBOOK all the time. It became a favourite of mine too once I got used to the Americanisms - zucchini, grits, scant etc. It is written by mennonites and is based on strict ethical principles of good stewardship and cooperation and teaching children morals etc. All in a cookbook! I still use some of the ideas now and have incorporated the shorthand way of writing T for tablespoon and t for teaspoon in my own recipes. I'll share it with you one day!

  4. How wonderful to discover you all love the same ones as I do! Floss - Liz has a SIGNED copy of one of Nigel's books[he sent it after she wrote to him!] Lynne -I may get a HB book when we see them LIVE in Sheffield in 2 weeks time. Helen- I use the MWL cookbook regularly. In fact, I made a pudding from there only yesterday [but we decided it didn't look blog-worthy enough to photograph]
    My cold is horrendous today, so I cannot actually TASTE anything tonight
    But thanks for your 'tasteful'remarks

  5. favourite food memory - oven cooked fish and chips whilst sat round the kitchen listening to radio 4 (usually I'm sorry I haven't a clue) on a saturday lunch time!

  6. That IS a good memory Steph - I still miss having you two girls at home Saturday lunchtimes x

  7. I agree with L's point about celeb. chefs using too many ingredients, Jamie Oliver's toad-in-the-hole uses 3 eggs, 3! By gum lad, tha's got more money than sense.

    Chicken in a basket - I can't remember the year, but I was very young. We were so excited by chicken-in-a-basket - ah those were simpler times! I never liked Angel Delight - you never hear about Angel Delight these days or Soda Stream.


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