Beginning with meal times, have a think about what you ate and when you ate it.
Was the main meal eaten at the end of the working day or in the middle of it?
Did you call it dinner, lunch, tea or supper?
Did you stay to school dinners? Or take a packed lunch?
Maybe things changed as you grew up? Some of us may have started with our “dinner” at lunch-time and later switched to having a cooked meal in the evening.
What about the traditional Sunday “roast”? What would you have had for Sunday dinner? Perhaps you were given a job to do as a child, like making the mustard or mint sauce? What happened to any left-overs? Did the remains get turned into a shepherd’s or cottage pie?
Who cooked your meals when you were young? And who would have been there eating it with you?
Do you recall “helping” to cook? Perhaps you were allowed to play with a pastry cutter? Or lick out the mixing bowl?
What was the first thing you cooked? Or taught someone else to cook? Often there are child-friendly recipes that get passed on. Who made little cakes with Rice Krispies or cornflakes?
Perhaps you did cookery at school? Or got a badge in the Brownies, Cubs, Scouts or Girl Guides?
What were the things you most enjoyed? And what about the things you hated?
Perhaps you remember stirring the Christmas pudding, hoping it would help you find a sixpence on Christmas Day. Or shudder at the memory of tapioca pudding – or frogspawn as it was disparagingly known. (Rice pudding, by contrast, is usually remembered fondly). Did you get a spoonful of jam to liven up a bowl of custard or stir into a semolina pudding?
Just as now, maybe you remember being forced to innovate because of lack of availability (or money)? You don’t have to go all the way back to wartime rationing to recall the bread strike in the 1960s or the sugar shortage in the 1970s. Stockpiling isn’t new!
Were there times when you had to deal with the opposite state of affairs? Like a seasonal glut of produce from the garden or allotment? Bottling, preserving and pickling were often the only ways of storing fresh fruit or veg in the days before fridges and freezers.
Perhaps you still do this? If you have any tips or foolproof methods this may be the perfect time to pass them on!
Digging out an old cookery book is a way of bringing back more memories, and may provide some smiles. Leafing through my mother’s Cannon Cookery book from the 1950s (first published in the 1930s) is to revisit a world of Braised Sheep Hearts and Stuffed Calves Heads (filled with “forcemeat”); of hearty Rabbit and Bacon Pudding, Marrow Jam (the vegetable variety) and something called Lunch Buns. Usefully, it also contains a recipe for Irish Soda Bread (no yeast required), and brought back (mixed) memories of Fig Squares. Can’t say they were ever my favourite.
Leaping forward a few decades, my Sainsbury’s Book of Quick Meals, first published in 1980, is a treasure trove of things I can’t believe we ever made or ate, like Tomato Fondue, Sardine Eggs, Baked Cheese and Mustard Pudding and Cold Tongue Giardinera! Nothing wrong with the sound of the Treacle Tart or Ginger Rum Trifle though.
If you do remember an old favourite (or three) don’t forget to add some notes to your personal scrapbook or memory box. Better still, have a go at recreating it! Lockdown appears to have prompted an upsurge in home-baking, so others may be grateful for your memories of long-forgotten tasty treats. Do pass any recipes on to us, with a photo if you get round to making any!
YOUR CHALLENGE (Should you choose to accept it…)
This week is to write a food-inspired poem. Don’t panic. We are giving you a framework (although feel free to go your own creative way if you prefer!). It can be as short or as long as you like, so long as it is linked to something you ate (love it or loathe it) or cooked (triumph of disaster)!
Give it a title and begin each line with “I remember…” Then, in no particular order try to incorporate a reference to some or all of the following:
- What you are cooking and/or eating
- Where you are cooking and/or eating it
- Who else is involved
- How you are feeling
- Why this memory stands out, or is important to you
- A punchline… (optional!)
The best birthday cake ever
- I remember a birthday party at home, in our front room
- I remember sitting down to tea with school friends
- I remember sausages on sticks and home-made cheese straws
- I remember my birthday cake best of all. It was shaped like a pretty little cottage with butter cream flowers growing up the walls and sponge finger biscuits for the roof
- I remember feeling proud that my mum had secretly made this for me, but sad and a bit cross that it would soon be cut up and gone
- I think I would have preferred to keep it a bit longer – and eat it more of it myself!
If you have anything you’d like to share with us, and are happy for us to post onto this page, and our social media pages – please email them over to email@example.com.
We’d love to hear from you, and make this a fun community activity with loads of people taking part and sharing their stories, photos, comics – and anything else!
‘FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD’ QUIZ
Our QUIZ this week takes the form of some old-fashioned sayings and proverbs – all of them food related.
- Who or what does “an apple a day” keep away?
- How many cooks spoil the broth?
- What shouldn’t you put in one basket?
- What CAN’T you have AND eat?
- Which sort of pot never boils?
- What is it no use crying over?
- Which dish is best served (or eaten) cold?
- What can’t you squeeze (or fit) into a pint pot? Why not?
Answers next week
Last weeks answers:
- The name of Hornby was associated with toy trains and railways
- Newmarket, Pairs and Patience are all types of card games
- Matchbox toy cars came in packaging made to resemble boxes of matches
- The children’s TV puppet characters described were Andy Pandy; Muffin the Mule and Sooty.
- The I-Spy Books had us on the look-out for all sorts of things.
- A form of the game of marbles has been traced back to Roman times at least.
- The game of Tiddlywinks is played with squidgers and winks.