The Baby Boomers are the ones that have seen the biggest changes in history where food and diet are concerned. And the 50’s were the beginning of this change.
Foods that we take for granted now in 2015, were not around then in the UK in the 1950’s.
Among them is curry, pasta, many spices and herbs, pizza, and Chinese food. The word “takeaway” was unheard of and the only ready-made food you bought in the shops were fish and chips, which were wrapped in newspaper lined with a grease-proof bag to stop the ink from getting into the food, or pies and pasties. Ready-made cakes were now becoming more popular.
Rice was a milk pudding, bread and butter was an everyday food. We used to love rice pudding, which was made by putting about 2 oz of rice into 1 pint of milk, two tablespoons of sugar and a knob of butter. Place in the oven and cook for 90 minutes in a moderately hot oven. So it tended to be put into the oven at the same time as the meat for the Sunday roast.
Vegetables were carrots, turnip, parsnips, different types of greens and potatoes. Olive oil was kept in the medicine cabinet, and you used lard or dripping for frying. Eating raw fish would not have been considered healthy. Sushi would only have been known in Japan.
Figs and dates were something that you only ate at Christmas. Ice cream came in either vanilla or as a luxury, there would be strawberry flavour. Jelly and ice cream was a party food. Crisps were one flavour with a small blue packet of salt in the bag and was something you bought with pocket money and considered a treat. There was one type of cheese, and that was a cheddar.
Hot cross buns were eaten only on Good Friday, and you had one hollow Easter egg, on Easter Sunday morning. Milk was not pasteurised and families fought over who was going to have the cream from the top of the bottle delivered to the doorstep. My Mother used to scald the creamy milk to make clotted cream.
Food was purchased from the local shops, supermarkets were unheard of. I remember shopping with my mother, going from one type of shop to another because food was not all under the same roof.
We went to the Baker for bread, Grocer for cheese and eggs, (I can still smell it!) and the Green Grocer for fruit and vegetables. The Butcher was where you bought the meat. Shopping was a daily occurrence as we did not have a refrigerator. Milk was delivered by a milkman, which was a tradition carried on for many years and still is in some rural parts of the UK.
Sainsbury’s were the first to try out a Supermarket in the UK in 1957.
Another noticeable thing was that fruit and vegetables and some other foods, were seasonable. You would have been very surprised to find a lettuce in the middle of winter, or a turnip in the middle of summer. Strawberries were only available in May, June and July.
Apples tasted delicious. The Granny Smiths in September every year were something to look forward to, as were the cox’s apples and the russets. Crisp, fresh and tasty.
There would have been no such thing as grazing in front of the television, simply because television was rare in those days. Snacking was something that you took to work or school for midmorning.
Breakfast would have been porridge or cornflakes or toast and marmalade and sometimes an egg.
Lunch might have been sandwiches filled with meat-paste, or corned beef, or cheese or egg. Soup was popular for lunch times too. Salad would have consisted of lettuce, tomato, cucumber and maybe a little watercress. This was the time when salad cream, came into its own.
However, many working class people had the main meal of the day at lunch time (known as dinner) and such meals as cottage pie, pasties, pies, steak and kidney pudding, sausage and mash and on Sunday the proverbial roast. Chicken was a luxury and many people had this for their Christmas dinner and turkey was a rarity.
Mary, who was a child in that decade, told me of the chicken that her family had as a pet, and they had the benefit of her eggs for eating. This chicken who the family fondly called Cynthia, used to sit on her aunt’s head while she did the ironing, to the amusement of the kids in the family. One day Cynthia was missing and they never saw her again, no explanation and no sign of her anywhere. Was it coincidence that a couple of days later there was chicken for dinner? They never found out, it was the Aunt’s secret.
No home was complete without the jam, syrup, tomato sauce, brown sauce and mustard in the cupboard. There would be no other condiments, except if there was some pickle, piccalilli or home-made pickled onions.
The difference between eating then and now, is not so much the absence of sugar or processed foods, but the amount that people ate. There were no stimulating additives to make you want more!
This is a paraphrased extract from my forthcoming book, the cover you can see above.
Find out more by going to; http://www.patriciacherrylifecoach.com