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Food then and now

(116 Posts)
Antonia Mon 09-Aug-21 10:54:54

When I was a child, food was definitely less varied. We ate sausages, shepherd's pie, basic salad with lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber, with a tin of John West salmon. The only dressing was salad cream.
Friday was always fish and chips, and we ate lots of Vesta meals - I remember their chicken curry very well. An actual chicken was a treat, reserved for Christmas, unless you were 'posh' like one of our neighbours, and had a turkey.

Vegetables were always potatoes (no pasta back then), cabbage, cauliflower, carrots and peas.

Among the desserts were rice pudding, lemon meringue pie made from a packet and jam sponge with Birds custard.

We have so much choice today and there is so much emphasis on 'healthy eating' that didn't exist when I was young. The only thing I remember is 'eat up your cabbage, it's good for you.' Plus the annoying 'eat it up - think of the poor starving children in Africa.' I always wanted, but never dared, to point out that whether I ate it or not, it wouldn't affect the starving children anywhere.

I used to spend at least some of my pocket money on 'pick n' mix' from Woolworths, and I'm sure children used to eat far more sweets than they do today. Some of my favourites were Spangles, Rowntrees fruit pastels, wagon wheels, coconut mushrooms, love hearts and jelly babies.

Other snacks were biscuits and crisps. They were plain, and came with the tiny blue twists of salt that you shook over them. I vaguely remember cheese n' onion flavour being a real novelty.

Amazingly, I wasn't overweight in those days. I seem to eat far less today and yet I still can't shift the pounds.grin

What are your memories of food in the past?

Grandmajean Mon 09-Aug-21 12:22:23

A Scottish childhood in a poor working class family but the meat was to die for ! My Mum got the best from the Co-op butcher . We had mince from rump steak and home made steak pies. Never had a roast chicken as it was too expensive and turkey was definitely an "English" dish only ever seen in magazines at Christmas. How I longed for an English Christmas meal as it seemed exotic.
Puddings were home made apple sponge or steamed ginger sponge. Ice cream blocks bought just before eating as we had no fridge. I remember a "Neopolitan" block in three colours.

Redhead56 Mon 09-Aug-21 12:25:32

Rissoles were frozen looked like beef burgers made with lamb and barley Birds eye. They were greasy but compared to eating a lot of offal as we did they were a treat!

Jaxjacky Mon 09-Aug-21 12:34:10

JackyB i remember the kilner jars, tomatoes, gooseberries and Victoria plums, along with all the jams. Mum baked every Friday, fruitcake, chocolate or plain sponge, ginger snaps, cream horns and meringues, dried in the airing cupboard. Everything was cooked from scratch, we did have spaghetti bolognaise and went out to an Indian restaurant, I was born in Pakistan, but Mum didn’t make Asian food. Dad only cooked a breakfast at the weekends, bacon with rind and a small pice of bone in each rasher, fried bread with tinned tomatoes. We used to have drop scones made on a hot plate on the boiler.

Antonia Mon 09-Aug-21 12:45:29

We got a lot of Scouse sometimes it was blind without meat.
I don't understand - what is Scouse?

The foods people are talking about are bringing back more memories. I also remember the three colour ice cream, and the Fray Bentos pies, and I had forgotten the Vesta paella. I should have remembered it, as, on my first French exchange visit, my friend's grandmother asked me what I liked to eat. My French was extremely limited, but I thought the word 'paella' was the same in French, so that's what I do said, my only experience of it being the Vesta one.
So, off she went to the market and the fishmonger, and came back with headless chickens and piles of fish. I have never, before or since, seen a mountain of paella like she made. She piled it on my plate and was so disappointed that I couldn't manage more than two platefuls ! Happy days!

Nell8 Mon 09-Aug-21 13:00:39

Scotch broth made with pearl barley and home grown vegetables with a couple of boiled tatties added to fill us up.

Corned beef hash was a regular until there was an outbreak of typhoid in Aberdeen caused by meat imported from Argentina in a contaminated tin. Cheery thought!

Mum's budget didn't rise to roasts but she was able to buy excellent fish from a man with a van.

nanna8 Mon 09-Aug-21 13:12:01

We had liver every week with onions or bacon because mum said it was full of iron. Sometimes she served up tripe and onions but I just couldn’t eat it so I went without. We used to have a lot of tinned cream ( can you still get that?) I don’t know what scouse is,either, thought it was someone from Liverpool!

DanniRae Mon 09-Aug-21 13:16:36

If I was hungry between meals mum would say "Have an apple" and if I refused this she'd say "Well you're not hungry then!"

mokryna Mon 09-Aug-21 13:25:48

Antonia ditto to all you said but lemon meringue was hand made, my job was to beat the whites and no vesta, that was when I was older.
I had to eat up because every crumb was a sailor lost. I was so thin my mother took me to the doctor’s, who gave some horrible tasting medicine, a spoonful before every meal, enough to put me off eating. Wish that was the case now but I believe we eat food that has too many chemicals which has destroyed the balance.

Blondiescot Mon 09-Aug-21 13:27:07

Oh god, liver - the bane of my life as a child. I just couldn't eat it. My mum used to insist on serving it up to me although she knew I hated it - and her philosophy was, if I didn't eat it, it got put down to me for the next meal. This went on for about three days until she finally accepted I was never going to eat it...

Nannytopsy Mon 09-Aug-21 13:34:14

Home made Yorkshire ducks ( faggot was a rude word ?), pigs tails or trotters with split peas, chicken wings or jacket potatoes with butter for tea. I think there were times of more month than salary.
Chicken was expensive so a rarity.

pensionpat Mon 09-Aug-21 13:35:19

Scouse is kind of stew/hotpot which is local to Liverpool. I think it’s similar to Lobby which is a potteries dish.

Tizliz Mon 09-Aug-21 13:54:54

My favourite was gammon with a slice of tinned pineapple and creamed sweet corn - they stopped making this a few years ago ?

Blondiescot Mon 09-Aug-21 14:04:51

Tizliz, you can still buy creamed corn online, or if you google it, you'll find recipes on how to make your own.

sharon103 Mon 09-Aug-21 14:40:16

Oh what a lovely post Antonia.
My mum was a brilliant cook. All homemade.
We knew what day of the week it was by the dinner she made.
In the winter on a Monday it would be stew and dumplings using the beef left over from Sunday roast, Bubble and squeak or hock and dough.
She always made 'afters'. Things like eve's pudding, steamed jam roly -poly, spotted dick.
Treacle tart, lemon curd tart, blackberry and apple pie. We had stewed rhubarb and custard with cream crackers at the bottom which went soggy which I loved, sliced banana and custard. Stewed plums and custard. I can remember my younger sister and I putting the plum stones on the side and to see who we were going to marry we pointed at each stone and chanted, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief.
We had rice pudding cooked in the oven and loved the skin on top.
Saturday tea was either egg and cress or red salmon and cress sandwiches and tinned fruit and evaporated milk. If it was fruit cocktail my sister and I always shared the cherries and always saved them and ate them last.
Happy days.

welbeck Mon 09-Aug-21 14:58:46

for years, until i was about 43 and a half, i assumed the small pale green items in fruit cocktail were gooseberries, because i don't think i'd seen any other possibilities when i was a child.
so i din;t eat them, because i didnt like gooseberries, seemed bitter and prickly, an odd fruit.
somehow i discovered those items were in fact pale grapes, which i like, but i still feel a bit dubious about the ones in fruit cocktail, such is the power of early imprinting.

NotSpaghetti Mon 09-Aug-21 15:11:51

I was obviously really lucky to have a wide and varied diet.
Obviously some egg and chips too but my father in particular liked trying new things.

Both my mother and father had lived abroad, my Dad with the Army, my mother as a young girl/teenager. They brought back ideas that were alien to most:
German rye bread, muesli, pickled/soused herrings, curries, kiwi fruits, even the occasional mango.

We also ate offal.. (though rarely tripe as my mother didn't like it). I can still see the pig's heads in brine in the pantry!

maryrose54 Mon 09-Aug-21 15:32:16

I remember left over Sunday roast being minced in the old hand turned mincer to make cottage pie on Monday. Also toad in the hole, sausage sandwich for Saturday tea, chicken for Christmas Dinner. My gran used to make egg custard in the little cast iron oven above her fire. Also remember bread and dripping which I loved.

Tizliz Mon 09-Aug-21 16:29:01


Tizliz, you can still buy creamed corn online, or if you google it, you'll find recipes on how to make your own.

Amazon have it for £3.79 for 4 cans with £22.97 del. (that is not a typing mistake). I will look into making my own, thanks

sodapop Mon 09-Aug-21 16:29:15

I don't remember having any ready made dishes when I was at home with my parents. Always home made and delicious. No bought cakes or pies etc. My mother bottled fruit and made pickles, we had a spare bedroom full of her preserves.
Unfortunately I didn't follow in her footsteps, my cooking was perfunctory at best and I really enjoyed Vesta meals and chips from the chippie. My poor mother was horrified. I remember her giving me a kilner jar of Yorkshire pudding mix she had made so I could produce something halfway decent. No wonder I'm now married to a

Calendargirl Mon 09-Aug-21 18:57:32

Similar meals to the OP.

Mum always fried our sausages, never had them grilled. I used to love the little tins of sausages with baked beans, only had them as a very occasional treat, as mum didn’t like them.

Tea with sugar at every meal, I rarely drink tea nowadays.

Don’t think our meals were very balanced, think I eat much healthier nowadays.

sodapop Mon 09-Aug-21 21:41:23

I seem to think we ate more then. Cooked breakfast, main meal at lunchtime, high tea in the evening and a hot drink and biscuits at bed time.
I don't eat anything like that now.

Hellogirl1 Mon 09-Aug-21 21:50:57

Breakfast in the week was porridge, made with water, we put cold milk on it, at weekends it was bacon and egg, one rasher of bacon each and a fried egg was cut in half between 2 of us.
Instead of a lot of sweets, we`d get cocoa and sugar mixed together in a cone of newspaper, pretended it was kali from the shop. Also half a pomegranate and a pin, kept us quiet for hours!
A special treat on Friday was fish and chips from the chippy. In those days they did only sell fish and chips.
My mother made her own bread, it smelt lovely and tasted even better.

Casdon Mon 09-Aug-21 21:58:14

My mum was an experimenter, so we had non traditional English food quite often, her moussaka was always one of my favourites. I remember her cooking mussels once, but as typical children, none of us would touch them. So we ended up with jam sandwiches and our neighbours enjoyed the mussels. We had an allotment, so there were always lots of vegetable and fruit, the freezer was full of damsons, plums, sliced apples, green beans etc. to last the whole year.

Sara1954 Mon 09-Aug-21 22:10:22

Lots of the above are very familiar, I’m afraid I really didn’t like anything, I hated meat, the texture mainly, I would sit for hours trying to swallow it.
Cottage pie was left over minced beef, with mashed potatoes, no flavouring or veg, I hated stews and pies because of the grizzly meat.
My gran used to make pea soup, horrible, I think one of the things I disliked most was apple dumplings.
Every mealtime for me was a battle of wills, sometimes I’d be left at the table for hours, sometimes my uneaten meal would appear again in time for the next meal!
I know this isn’t in the spirit of the thread, so I did like butterscotch instant whip, and loved my grans apple cake, but sadly I can’t think of anything else.

NfkDumpling Mon 09-Aug-21 22:14:39

Sugar sandwiches after school - thin sliced white bread spread with Stork margarine and sprinkled with white sugar. How healthy is that!

But, we had half a dozen hens fed on scraps and corn and rabbits which we collected hogweed and roadside grass for, in our little terrace house garden. And and allotment half a mile away which we cycled to. We ate a lot of home produce as it came in season.

No fridge or freezer so Mum used to salt down runner beans in large sweet jars. A layer of sliced beans then a layer of salt. They lasted most of the winter and, despite being soaked in water before cooking, were absolutely disgusting. Surplus cauliflower was put into piccalilli.