28 July 2016
Quinoa, chia seeds and pomegranates are this summer’s superfoods. Back in my day, the super food was what’s popularly become known in my house as a ‘Nan’s salad’: a lettuce leaf, tomato, cucumber slices, a boiled egg, new potatoes and a dollop of salad cream. And if you were really pushing the boat out, a slice of ham - or tinned salmon if you were positively showing off!
These days it’s all about eating healthily, spiralized veg and nutritional powerhouses whereas back in the day, it was all about filling you up, with hot stodgy puddings like Spotted Dick and custard – never mind it was 80 degrees outside – you sweated it out while you tucked in - and woe betide if you left any.
Several people I’ve spoken to who grew up in the Fifities and Sixties tell me they always had a Sunday roast, whatever the weather. Chicken was too expensive so it was beef which was ground up for Shepherd’s Pie for Monday’s dinner. And if you were lucky, it was beef dripping sandwiches mid-week!
Today there is a plentiful choice of puds with pavlovas, cheesecakes, infused ice-cream, and salted caramel this-and-that everything! I remember when ‘fancy’ was a pink blancmange, butterscotch Angel Delight or a real crowd pleaser, an Artic Roll. Sometimes a mid-week pudding – not that we had ‘afters’ that often in our house – was a frozen ice-cream or mousse in a small plastic tub with a peel-off cardboard lid. At primary school we used the empty tub as a mould as it had a bird picture imprinted in the base. We filled it with plaster of Paris, let it set, then coloured the bird in. Mine was a Robin. Life was simpler then.
And what’s this about eating outside? I never did this unless school allowed you to eat your packed lunch on the field - and then you went inside when you discovered you’d set up on an ants’ nest! We’d never heard of a barbecue. The closest we got to cremating a sausage was over a Brownies’ camperfire. Now it’s all fish tacos, halloumi kebabs, beer-braised ribs, artisan burgers and marinading.
No-one had heard of topping your salad with edible flower-petals like Nasturtiums and Carnations. The only Carnation we had was on top of tinned fruit – and who didn’t fight over who got the cherry? I think people might have worried about your sanity in the Seventies if you’d sprinkled petals on your Nan’s salad. The closest I got to eating plants was chives – it seemed wonderfully exotic. If you fancy having Carnations in a vase rather than on your food, then why not treat yourself to a pretty pink, white and cream Carnation Classic bouquet.
Wouldn’t it fun to have a retro summer food day? I’m off to get the tin opener…