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Food in the 50's

Discussion in 'Cookery' started by lapinrose, Aug 8, 2012.

  1. lapinrose

    lapinrose Star commenter

    Had this in an email and thought I'd share it with you.

    * 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 pop.
    * Coke was something that we mixed with coal to make it last longer.
    * A Chinese chippy was a foreign carpenter.
    * Rice was a milk pudding, and never ever part of our dinner.
    * A Big Mac was what we wore when it was raining.
    * A Pizza Hut was an Italian shed.
    * Spaghetti was a small town in Bolognese.
    * A microwave was something out of a science fiction movie.
    * Brown bread was something only posh people ate.
    * Oil was for lubricating your bike not for cooking, fat was for cooking
    * Bread and jam was a punishment.
    * Tea was made in a teapot using tea leaves, not bags.
    * The tea cozy was the forerunner of all the energy saving devices that we hear so much about today.
    * Tea had only one color, black. Green tea etc. was not British.
    * Coffee was only drunk when we had no tea.
    * Cubed sugar was regarded as "bits of an over kill".
    * Figs and dates appeared every Christmas, but no one ever ate them.
    * Sweets and confectionery were called toffees.
    * Coconuts only appeared when the fair came to town.
    * Black puddings were mined in Bolton Lancashire.
    * 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 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 color and one flavor.
    * None of us had ever heard of yogurt.
    * Jelly and blancmange was only eaten at parties.
    * If we said that we were on a diet, we simply got less (more for us).
    * 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 on the same sandwich we would have been certified
    * A bun was a small cake back then.
    * A tart was a fruit filled pastry, not a lady of horizontal pleasure.
    * The word" Barbie" was not associated with anything to do with food
    * Eating outside was called a picnic.
    * Cooking outside was called camping.
    * Seaweed was not a recognized source of 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 the Americans ate.
    * Cornflakes had arrived from America but it was obvious that they would never catch on.
    * The phrase "boil in the bag" would have been beyond our realms of 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 rumor.
    * 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 flavor 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 forties, "Elbows"

  2. I have Margerite Patton's war recipes and post war books too and I suspect that she woudl whole heartedly agree with that list.
    Can I nick it?
  3. PlymouthMaid

    PlymouthMaid Occasional commenter

    That is good. Actually an awful lot of that was still true in the late 60's,early 70's when I grew up.
  4. lapinrose

    lapinrose Star commenter

    Course you can.
  5. This is fantastic, made me giggle, true even when i was growing up in 70's

    great for explaining ' how our cultures eating habits have changed '.
    i hope to share it with my gcse students but sadly i think my technician, other food teacher and LSA will appreciate
    it most and giggle too.
    Thanks for sharing
  6. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    I've read this before and it is so true.
    I can remember pizza arriving on these shores in the 1970s. They were frozen Bird's Eye pizzas and actually rather disgusting. Curiously my mother did cook spaghetti from as far back as I can remember (I'm a child of the 50's......just!), but it was not easy to find and only the long stuff in blue paper packs was available. Far superior to the short stuff in celophane we get today IMO.
    BTW..................in the 70s a curry or Chinese meant Vesta [​IMG]
  7. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    Yes fair enough - Yorkshire obviously would have had some as indeed would parts of Manchester and the Midlands.
    Curry made at home was mainly of the watery stew with curry powder and raisins variety though, if not Vesta.
  8. bombaysapphire

    bombaysapphire Star commenter

    You've just reminded me of the blue paper packets of spaghetti! It felt so exotic.
    I remember having garlic for the first time. I must have been about 11 and was at a friend's house. Her Mum made us garlic bread. My Dad refused to have it in the house because he said it made everything taste the same. Shortly after that he was over-ruled.
  9. My mum said a classic treat in her house were Heinz puddings in a tin. She was born in 1960 and grew up in a household where anything foreign was perceived with suspicion. That said, despite my granny's fear of pasta and pizza (which she pronounced pitt-sa!) she was a fantastic 'plain' cook and pretty much everything (apart from the Heinz puds!) was homemade. Not a ready meal in sight.
  10. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    Didn't it just....................and it's still better than the short stuff!
  11. InkyP

    InkyP Star commenter

    When I was 15 I used to spend Saturday at my friend's house and we always made a Vesta meal - that would have been 1970 so I suppose it spanned the late 60s early 70s. They were probably disgusting but got me interested in making my own.
  12. modelmaker

    modelmaker Lead commenter

    Interestingly, a guy I worked with in the early 70s was so anti-spicy foods he was an embarrassment to be with in the canteen. London wasn't anything like as cosmopolitan as its now, but nevertheless, there was often some spicy dish on the canteen menu like curry or chilli con carne.
    My colleague would view it in disgust, even to the extent he'd wave his arms around when we sat together to prevent inhaling the smell. Then one day his wife bought a Vesta curry and he got hooked on spicy food. After that, you could almost guarantee he'd go for the spicy option on the menu.
    It was a real suprise to me that he actualy ate the Vesta meal his wife had "prepared" given his attitude. Incidents like this tell us a lot about changing attitudes in the 70s. Knowing this guy and his family intimately, I know that his attitude to "foreign muck" was derived through the ever-present racial issues we had in those days.
    Yes Vesta meals were awful compared to what "foreign muck" tastes like now we've become accustomed to it and regularly eat it, but I think you shouldn't be so disparaging about Vesta. For many people it became a gateway to understanding that other cultures had something interesting to offer. Something more than just driving the busses.
    If you never lived in those days, you'd probably not understand, and in truth, I'd have to put my hand up and say that because I was only in my 20s then, politically naive and untraveled, I couldn't be expected to know as much as I now do.
    This says it all, really. All we ever ate at home was similar to lapin's OP. I was lucky to become an adult when new foods became available and being young and adventurous was keen to try them. My colleague was ten years older than I was. He'd had ten more years of intensive racism driven into him than I'd had, so I can understand his reluctance to welcome foreign muck.
    But a Vesta curry opened the door for him to experience another culture, and I'd say probably more than in just food these days. Who'd have thought that was possible from a single yet **** meal?
  13. Bethannie

    Bethannie New commenter

    We were an unusual family (in more ways than one!!!)....
    Mum is from 'East' Germany and cooked food that was deemed strange by other families...cabbage parcels...little sausage meatballs cooked in cabbage...red cabbage ( only ever eaten pickled in a salad in England!) cooked with apple and belly pork.....a thick rice and chicken offal dish....
    We also ate 'spicy' foods...Curry (and not a raisin in sight - unless it was school ersatz-curry!)...and Goulash......and a variation on Spag Bol (no garlic)...and Nasi Goreng.
    Being in the Forces, we travelled more than most...Mum travelled to Libya for a year before I was born...we had 2 years in Singapore...so Mum's cooking style became a true fusiion....and very 'interesting' sometimes when we were back in the UK and trying to find 'substitutes' for authentic ingredients that just weren't available.
    Mum and my sister used to eat a Vesta Chow Mein (nothing like the chow mein in Singapore!)...I only liked the crispy noodles the rest was horrible!
    Mum used to have a sort of 'signature' dush that she was asked for whenever she hosted a dinner party...it was fried chicken coated with dried herbs (you couldn't get fresh herbs.....Mum grew a few, but relied on the dried stuff quite often) and the herbs tasted like grass!...served with fried rice...she coloured the rice with a pinch of turmeric (which noone else had heard of!) and added dried red peppers (you could get them in a small pot in the supermarkets....bit no fresh peppers available...and they only came in 'red')
    Yes, we were thought of as eating 'unusual' food....but it was surprising how often people somehow turned up at our house at mealtimes and were asked if they wanted to stay, or take a portion home...one neighbour used to turn up with his own plate!
    Mum was eagerly grabbed by the school for baking something for the school fairs....German traybakes were a novelty and sold rapidly!
    In my early years everything was home-cooked....and I remember how slowly but surely the 'new' convenience foods came into our lives....we certainly ate the boil-in-a-bag fish that scalded you as you took it out of the saucepan and then burned with steam when you opened the bag and the got you again as you grabbed the scorching hot bag to try and squeeze out the last of the sauce onto your plate! I remember we could choose from different sauces ,,,Butter, Parsley, Shrimp, Cheese, Mushroom....I think the difference was purely in the colour of the sauce - they all tasted pretty much the same!
    We nearly always had homemeade cake....and Mum often baked bread too. However, Mum also bought bread from the milkman. One day she opened the waxy paper wrapped around the sliced white she had ordered....and it was mouldy! She had a few choice words with the milkman and he was apologetic in the extreme..and offered Mum a box of baked goods as compensation...including half a dozen or so boxes marked 'Mr Kipling' ...we had heard of these before but never bought them...Mum examined the boxes dubiously....'call this a fruit cake? hah...mine is better'....and then discovered the Almond Slices....we never got a sniff of those! And from then on a trip to the supermarket might include Mum slipping a pack of those slices into her basket! The first ready made cakes in our household!

  14. the evil tokoloshe

    the evil tokoloshe New commenter

    Growing up in small town England as a kid I do remember that there wasn't the proliferation of takeaways etc. that there are now. The whole issue of Italian food being 'exotic' was something I do remember though. We would go and stay with friends in Italy and my father would learn how to make pasta, sauces etc. Invariably we would bring back a pasta machine which would be viewed with suspicion by customs. I never really thought anything of it at the time, but in the late 90s whilst living in Zim, the advent of daytime TV there (yes, so late) brought waves of cheap old programmes from the BBC including Delia's first or second series where (whilst wearing a jumpsuit that had lapels that almost reached the floor) she made an exotic dish called 'spaghetti Bolognese'. She pointed out that you would have to get dried spaghetti and dried oregano from a speciality shop and that fresh garlic could be found in specialist grocers. She did not use parmesan as that would probably have involved jetting off to Italy to buy some.
    I do remember the first curry I had that left my lips tingling through chilli heat, and a few years later eating raw chillis as bets.

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