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Sunday, 22 February 2015

The early days

My early eating days. You youngsters have never had food so good.

* Pasta had not been invented.* Curry was an unknown entity.* Olive oil was kept in the medicine cabinet.* Spices came from the Middle East where we believed that they were used for embalming.
* Herbs were used to make rather dodgy medicine.
* A takeaway was a mathematical problem.* A pizza was something to do with a leaning tower.* Bananas and oranges only appeared at Christmas time.* The only vegetables known to us were spuds, peas, carrots and cabbage, anything else was regarded as being a bit suspicious.
* All crisps were plain; the only choice we had was whether to put the salt on or not.
* Condiments consisted of salt, pepper, vinegar and brown sauce if we were lucky.* Soft drinks were called lemonade.* Coke was something that we mixed with coal to make it last longer.* Rice was a milk pudding, and never, ever part of our main course at dinner.* A big mac was what we wore when it was raining.
* A microwave was something out of a science fiction movie.* Brown bread was something only poor people ate.* Oil was for lubricating your bike – not for cooking; fat was for cooking.* Bread and jam was a treat
* Tea was made in a teapot using tea leaves, not bags.
* The tea cosy was the forerunner of all the energy-saving devices that we hear so much about today.* Tea had only one colour, black. Green tea was not British.* Coffee was only drunk when we had no tea … and then it was Camp, and came in a bottle. (ED: Shudders)* Cubed sugar was regarded as posh.
* Figs and dates appeared every Christmas, but no one ever ate them.* Coconuts only appeared when the fair came to town.* Jellied eels were peculiar to Londoners.* Salad cream was a dressing for salads; mayonnaise did not exist.* Hors d’oeuvre was a spelling mistake.* The starter was our main meal.* Soup was a main meal.* The menu consisted of what we were given, and was set in stone.* Only Heinz made beans: any others were impostors.
* Leftovers went in the dog.
* Special food for dogs and cats was unheard of.* Sauce was either brown or red.* Fish was only eaten on Fridays.* Fish didn’t have fingers in those days.* Eating raw fish was called poverty, not sushi.
* Ready meals only came from the fish-and-chip shop..* For the best taste, fish and chips had to be eaten out of small grease-proof packets wrapped in old newspapers.
* Frozen food was called ice cream.* Nothing ever went off in the fridge because we never had one.* Ice cream only came in one colour and one flavour.
* None of us had ever heard of yoghurt.* Jelly and blancmange were only eaten at parties.
* If we said that we were on a diet, we simply got less food.* Healthy food consisted of anything edible.* Healthy food had to have the ability to stick to your ribs.
* Calories were mentioned but they had nothing at all to do with food.* The only criteria concerning the food that we ate were … did we like it and could we afford it.
* People who didn’t peel potatoes were regarded as lazy so-and-so’s.* Indian restaurants were only found in India.* A seven-course meal had to last a week.
* Brunch was not a meal.* Cheese only came in a hard lump.* If we had eaten bacon lettuce and tomato in the same sandwich we would have been certified.* A bun was a small cake back then.
* Eating outside was called a picnic.
* Cooking outside was called camping.* Seaweed was not a recognised food.* Offal was only eaten when we could afford it.* Eggs only came fried or boiled.* Hot cross buns were only eaten at Easter time.
* Pancakes were only eaten on Pancake Tuesday – in fact in those days it was compulsory.
* “Kebab” was not even a word, never mind a food.* Hot dogs were a type of sausage that only Americans ate* The phrase “boil in the bag” would have been beyond our comprehension.* The idea of “oven chips” would not have made any sense at all to us.
* The world had not yet benefited from weird and wonderful things like Pot Noodles, Instant Mash and Pop Tarts
* We bought milk and cream at the same time in the same bottle* Sugar enjoyed a good press in those days, and was regarded as being white gold.* Lettuce and tomatoes in winter were just a rumour.* Most soft fruits were seasonal except perhaps at Christmas.
* Prunes were medicinal.* Surprisingly muesli was readily available in those days: it was called cattle feed.
* Turkeys were definitely seasonal.* Pineapples came in chunks in a tin; we had only ever seen a picture of a real one.* We didn’t eat croissants in those days because we couldn’t pronounce them, we couldn’t spell them and we didn’t know what they were.
* We thought that baguettes were a serious problem the French needed to deal with.* Garlic was used to ward off vampires, but never used to flavour bread.
* Water came out of the tap. If someone had suggested bottling it and charging treble for it they would have become a laughing stock.* Food hygiene was all about washing your hands before meals.* Campylobacter, salmonella, E. coli, listeria, and botulism were all called “food poisoning”.

* The one thing that we never ever had on our table in the fifties … elbows.

We did live in simpler times. But we enjoyed ourselves. Health an safety weren't invented. In fact neither were "Sell by dates".


  1. Our fridge was damp cloth over the milk jug. Fairy liquid was not for washing up -we used left over pieces of soap in a shaking basket thing. Chicken was a real luxury and half a sheep's or pigs head weren't uncommon. Pearl barley bulked out the stew. Milk arrived on a cart and was ladled out of a churn direct from the farm.
    Windsor soup, made with whatever was available, was posh and we sometimes had a tiny one penny hovis loaf as a treat.

  2. Sell by and use by dates are meaningless. We went away for five weeks recently and 90% of the stuff in our fridge was fine when we got back.

    I've got tea bags in the cupboard that are two years past their use by date and they're perfectly fine. It's just bollocks. We should apply common sense and the taste and smell test. If it smells off or tastes off, then it's probably off - otherwise just bloody eat it!

  3. We used to have a fridge - an outside cupboard with a zinc fly-screen on it.

    Two other points about 'old' food. It didn't come wrapped in tons of plastic and clingfilm, and it had real flavour.

  4. Showing your age there, young man. :)

  5. The epitome of the 1950's Food Technologist was the discovery that Cheese & Onion flavour could be added to crisps.

  6. Spot on FE. There's nothing in your list I don't recognise.


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