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 Eating in the UK in the Fifties - modern parents take note

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PostSubject: Eating in the UK in the Fifties - modern parents take note   Thu Apr 30, 2015 11:06 am

Eating in the UK in the Fifties - modern parents take note

Boy do I remember all this!!!

Pasta had not been invented.
Curry was a surname.
Olive oil was kept in the medicine cabinet
Spices came from the Middle East where 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,

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 put on the fire.
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.
A microwave was something out of a science fiction movie.
Brown bread was something only poor people ate.
Oil was for lubricating, fat was for cooking

Bread and jam was a treat.
Tea was made in a teapot using tea leaves and never green.
Coffee was Camp, and came in a bottle.
Cubed sugar was regarded as posh.
Figs and dates appeared every Christmas, but no one ever ate them.
Coconuts only appeared when the fair came to town.
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.
Only Heinz made beans.
Leftovers went in the dog.
Special food for dogs and cats was unheard of.
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 colour and one flavour.
None of us had ever heard of yoghurt.
Jelly and blancmange was only eaten at parties.
If we said that we were on a diet, we simply got less.
Healthy food consisted of anything edible.
People who didn't peel potatoes were regarded as lazy.
Indian restaurants were only found in India .
Brunch was not a meal.
If we had eaten bacon lettuce and tomato in the same sandwich we would have been certified
A bun was a small cake back then.
The word" Barbie" was not associated with anything to do with food.
Eating outside was a picnic.
Cooking outside was called camping.
Seaweed was not a recognised food.
Pancakes were only eaten on Pancake Tuesday
"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 they would never catch on.
The phrase "boil in the bag" would have been beyond comprehension.
The idea of "oven chips" would not have made any sense at all to us.
The world had not heard of Pot Noodles, Instant Mash and Pop Tarts.
Sugar enjoyed a good press in those days, and was regarded as being white gold.
Lettuce and tomatoes in winter were only found abroad.
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 never heard of Croissants we certainly couldn't pronounce it,
We thought that Baguettes were a problem the French needed to deal with.
Garlic was used to ward off vampires, but never used to flavour food.
Water came out of the tap, if someone had suggested bottling it and charging more than petrol 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 fifties …. ELBOWS!!!!

So you tell us your memories of the food from the past.
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PostSubject: Re: Eating in the UK in the Fifties - modern parents take note   Thu Apr 30, 2015 11:18 am

I think you are painting a bleaker picture than I remember

* Spices came from the Middle East where they were used for embalming

No, not at all. We had nutmeg (used on egg custards, mmmmm!), cinnamon, cloves, ginger (parkin!) and a few more as well as packs of pickling spices used to make pickled shallots and onions although pepper was invariably white and came ready ground

* Herbs were used to make rather dodgy medicine.

Again, not true. The range was more limited, but I can recall rosemary (pork), basil, thyme, parsley and sage (stuffing, what else) in regular use

* A takeaway was a mathematical problem.

Only because chippies and pie shops weren't called that. Being brought-up in a remote district our "chippie" was in the back of a mobile van that came on Tuesdays and Fridays!

* Bananas and oranges only appeared at Christmas time.

By the late 1950s that certainly wasn't the case. I vividly recall helping my mum make mountains of marmalade in September/October every year when the surplus of marmalade oranges from the factories in Dundee came on the market for a short while. Jams, too, from our allotment (raspberry, strawberry, gooseberry, redcurrant, and blackcurrant) not to mention a lot more exotic stuff like greengage or damson if the greengrocer had overstocked and it was going soft. Bananas were available, too, but only at certain times of year and always labelled "Fyffes"

* The only vegetables known to us were spuds, peas, carrots and cabbage,

And turnips, swedes, cauliflower, marrowfat peas (mmm, lovely sloppy), runner beans and long beans as well as onions and leeks. We did have a sort of mange-tout at the beginning of the season served-up with butter - but nobody used a fancy foreign name for it and on bonfire night there were always black-eyed peas whilst in summer there was lettuce, tomatoes and spring onions but never cucumber

* Condiments consisted of salt, pepper, vinegar and brown sauce if we were lucky.

But you've missed out Lea & Perrins Worcester sauce, mustard picalilli, Coleman's English mustard, pickled onions (proper ones) AND salad cream in summer

* Brown bread was something only poor people ate.

Nah! Brown bread was HOVIS! It was a health food (along with Ryvita)

* Bread and jam was a treat.

Again, not by the late 1950s

* Coffee was Camp, and came in a bottle.

Or if you were lucky, was instant (Maxwell House)

* Special food for dogs and cats was unheard of.

Kit-e-Kat was the first, again in the late 1950s. It stank to high heaven!

* For the best taste fish and chips had to be eaten out of old newspapers.

And cooked in dripping, These days you need to go to Dublin to get it that way

* Prunes were medicinal.

Which is why we got them at school once or twice a week - to keep us regular. If it didn't work there was always California Syrup of Figs or in dire circumstances BP Paraffin

* Turkeys were definitely seasonal.

You must have been rich, then. All we got at Christmas was a chicken

Food was very seasonal because we had no fridges and shopping was a daily chore for many women. Because of the cost I don't think my family were alone in having an allotment and growing a lot of our own food, so much so that I never tasted a factory-made jam until I was into my teens. Almost everything we ate was cooked at home with a lot of cheap cuts like mutton, shin and oxtail - some things I hated, others I've loved ever since, but I wouldn't want to go back to it, thanks very much
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PostSubject: Re: Eating in the UK in the Fifties - modern parents take note   Thu Apr 30, 2015 11:33 am

Children who were four in 1950 had a more balanced diet than four year olds today, despite living in a poorer society with a more limited range of food. The post-war austerity and food rationing of the early Fifties created a more conducive climate for a balanced and healthy diet. One of the main differences to emerge was the heavy reliance on bread, milk and vegetables in 1950, which has largely been replaced by the rise in consumption of pizza, pasta, rice and yoghurts in the Nineties. "The higher amounts of bread, milk and vegetables consumed in 1950 are closer to the healthy eating guidelines of the Nineties. Children in 1950 ate more potatoes and drank tea with meals whereas those in the Nineties are more likely to consume baked beans, savory snacks and soft drinks. Although children ate more animal fat in the Fifties the higher calorie intake was probably offset by being more active than are today's youngsters. Whereas fresh vegetables were the main source of vitamin C forty years ago, children today get most of their vitamin C from fruit juices - which do not contain the additional nutrients of plant-derived foods.
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PostSubject: Re: Eating in the UK in the Fifties - modern parents take note   Fri May 01, 2015 12:22 pm

Brill post meandmine...thank you
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PostSubject: Re: Eating in the UK in the Fifties - modern parents take note   Sat May 02, 2015 10:43 am

My thoughts of food in the 1950's where going to the sweet shop with my Mum's ration book and getting a quarter of a pound of Maynard's Wine Gums for 6d. Having toast and dripping for breakfast and eating a vast amount of aniseed balls.

Going to my Nan's for Sunday dinner consisted of roasted lamb with mint sauce, roast potatoes and cabbage which was covered with an ample amount of vinegar to disguise the digusting taste of the stuff. This was followed by home made rice pudding, a cup of tea followed by Rich Tea Fingers and all this took place while the cuckoo kept popping out every hour to say hello!

s s s
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PostSubject: Re: Eating in the UK in the Fifties - modern parents take note   Sat May 02, 2015 2:12 pm

I think people had less money in the day, but seemed to have better quality products either because they had no access to crap or did not aspire to own it peoples clothes were made of wool cotton leather shoes brogues and the like food was always fresh ,no choice and plenty of good local shop's,and that's another story,come the 60s all the crap products came in s**t processed food ,synthetic of the peg suit's plastic shoes,and guy's changed from supping good real ale to chemical ,gassed up beer such as Watney's Red Barrel and Skol lager ,every body just rolled over and accepted everything they were sold it was a bit of a shame
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PostSubject: Re: Eating in the UK in the Fifties - modern parents take note   Sat May 02, 2015 2:17 pm

The easiest way to describe the difference is that the only take-away/fast food was the Fish & Chip shop. So, everything was cooked from scratch.

Very few "foreign" foods were available so the basis of all main meals was "Meat & 2 Veg" & the veg was seasonal (fridges were just finding their way into homes & were enormous). So, peas were fresh in season (hours spent happily "podding") or tinned for the rest of the year. The "3 meals a day" was a little loose. We had 4 ....Breakfast (usually cooked - variations of Full English - but cornflakes & porridge were around) Luncheon or lunch to most of us - Most people were at work/school so either took packed, ate in canteens/had school dinners, went home for a meal or bought lunch in a cafe, Tea (2 types) - High Tea (about 4pm) Much like Afternoon Teas you can still get in a few places with sandwiches, bread & butter, cakes, fruit when available; or what was really kids' tea for when they got home from school which might be something like egg or beans on toast. Dinner - The evening meal when Dads got home from work. Young children may well have been in bed by this time. Dinner was the meat & 2 veg meal. Sweet/dessert/pudding was something like a fruit pie/pudding/rice pud etc. Supper - This could be anything from another meal (in winter we often had a stew) to a snack before bed. As meals were cooked from scratch they contained no additives but Mum's back then often added monumental amounts of salt or sugar. In some ways the diet was healthier but in others it wasn't. Lots of sugar, fat, salt but not processed. The main difference was not so much what was eaten but the fact that everyone burnt off many, many more calories by exercise so kept fitter & slimmer.Portion sizes depended on how much the family could afford. Often they were larger than people might think but then, as I said before, when calories were burnt off much faster it offset.
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PostSubject: Re: Eating in the UK in the Fifties - modern parents take note   Sat May 02, 2015 2:19 pm

I forgot salads. Seasonal again. They tended to be mainly tomatoes, cucumber & lettuce with ham, cheese, boiled egg & home-made pickles.
Fruit. Again seasonal but also from the "store" which may just have meant apples laid down to store or bottled when in season to eat in winter.
It was very much about eating what was in season &, therefore, normally cheaper, too, or bottling/pickling/preserving when there was plenty for the times when no fresh was available.

Bread & butter was served with just about everything. It was considered rude not to....... don't ask me why.
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PostSubject: Re: Eating in the UK in the Fifties - modern parents take note   Sat May 02, 2015 2:22 pm

If you were hungry in between breakfast & dinner (lunch) you ate a jam sandwich or a biscuit from the broken biscuit tin, so called because they were broken biscuits from Woolworth, the Co-op or Liptons. There was never any bought crisps or choc bars. Mother would make crisps sometimes and toffee. She also made the bread. Apples and pears were eaten often and sometimes you might get a banana, which was a real treat! Vegetables like broccoli and asparagus hadn't been 'invented', so we never heard of it. We were always made to eat everything on our plates and 'eat your greens up' was a constant phrase. The Corona popman would come round on a Friday selling bottles of lemonade. You'd save up the empty bottles which were worth tuppence each.
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PostSubject: Re: Eating in the UK in the Fifties - modern parents take note   Sat May 02, 2015 2:27 pm

Breakfast was porridge with a dollop of jam or golden syrup during the week and maybe eggs and bacon on Sundays.

Dinner was at lunchtime, HM soup then mince & dumplings, onion and tatties, spam was still big on the menu, fried and served with deep fried chips. Mostly it was slices of boiled meat such as a ham joint or whatever the butcher had cheap that week, with pease pudding, spuds and whatever fresh veg was in season. We had steamed puddings at the weekends when dad was home.

Tea was sandwiches (if the sliced meat needed using up) or eggs and soldiers (toast), spam fritter sandwiches or sardines or mackerel followed by fruit, tinned unless there was a seasonal glut and fresh fruit was cheap. If we had been good we were allowed condensed milk on the tinnned fruit. Dad had his cooked meal when he came home from work and took a sandwich for lunch.

We drank water, sometimes tea, I don't remember juices being offered very often but milk was often forced down our throats. There were no fridges, just the marble slab and the meat safe (a box with fly proof mesh kept in the outside pantry, so in summer milk was often on the turn before it arrived on the doorstep - yuck. I still remember my first taste of fresh, chilled milk, so different from the sickly stuff I'd been used to in the 50s.

Hight tea on Sunday afternoon was a big spread when the visitors made an appearance and the cake stand came out. Cream cakes and biscuits (rarely) were home made, one cream cake each and no more, but we could fill up on Gran's rather solid fruit cake if we wanted. Grandad had hens so eggs were fairly plentiful for us.

Shopping was done daily so as not to miss the bargains as the butcher/fishmonger/greengrocer went to market every morning.

Summers were simple salads of lettuce, tomato, cucumber, radishes, cress or spring onions, home grown, with boiled eggs, grated cheese and very occasionally, sliced ham. Salad cream! Not sure when that came in but I think it was around by the late 50s.

Mostly what I remember is that food got very boring as we would have variations on the same menu for days at a time, sometimes weeks if it had been a good harvest for something.

A lot depended on where you lived. Where I was brought up mushrooms were very scarce, I was 16 when I tasted my first and I'll never forget it
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PostSubject: Re: Eating in the UK in the Fifties - modern parents take note   Sat May 02, 2015 3:01 pm

What a wonderful topic! I was a 50s child, too. My parents had very little money, so Dad got fed first as the wage-earner, then us two kids, then Mum. I can remember porridge and /or toast for breakfast, always school dinners, and a high tea - which would have been something like bacon or sausage and egg, baked beans on toast, egg on toast. As we got older, we'd have stews (yuk!), or something with homemade chips or jacket potatoes. As my dislike (to the point that I'd heave) of stewed lamb or beef increased, poor Mum part-cooked the meat, then put some of it in to the stewpot with the veg for her and my sister, while Dad and I got some of the meat with separately cooked veg. Only now do I realise what a pain it must have been for her.

At weekends, there would always be a roast, with roasted potatoes, and two types of veg. And, there was always a filling pud afterwards - something like apple pie and custard, or a stewmed pudding. I remember always wanting more pud, but never had enough room after the roast! When we had visitors for Sunday tea, we'd have salad, bread and butter (or probably margarine) with the special treat of shrimps (couldn't afford prawns) and winkles, which had to be taken out of their shells with a pin
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PostSubject: Re: Eating in the UK in the Fifties - modern parents take note   Sat May 02, 2015 3:08 pm

Toast done on the open fire then spread with dripping and sprinkled with salt.
Salt didn't come in prepacked but in a block and cut with a carving knife and rolled into small grains with the wooden rolling pin and put into a salt pot. Then you either took a pinch to sprinkle or used the salt spoon to put a small heap on the side of the plate.
Breakfast was toast. Dinner was dinner at school or at home, tea was always bread and butter served with the jam jar on the table (serve yourself)or lemon curd or golden syrup or mashed banana with milk and sugar or potted meat if it was butcher day,or sugar or crisps all to put on the bread.
Before bedtime...always a glass of milk.
Biscuits were a rare treat but homemade cake was a weekend treat.
Fruit tea was on Sunday....a tin of fruit with evap milk or tinned cream served with bread and butter.
Yorkshire pudding was served before the roast dinner with homemade strawberry, blackberry or raspberry vinegar.
Pudding...if Yorkshire pud wasn't being served, was also eaten before dinner. Egg custard, milk puddings, steamed puddings etc.
No ice creams....they were a very special summer treat.
No cordials, no pop....water to drink if you were thirsty.
Veg all home grown. I can remember Surprise peas being a treat when home grown weren't in season..possibly in the 1960s.
Hen run in the garden. Hens fed on scraps and meal.
Rabbits kept for meat not as pets.
Local farmer providing wild rabbits, pheasants and pigeon.
Nothing was wasted.
Sweets....what were they? They were a luxury.
Rhubarb dipped in sugar, orange segments dipped in sugar.
Batter bits from the chippy....only on holiday
Rice was in rice pudding so was a sweet....I didn't eat rice as a savoury until the late 1960s.

There we go...and believe it or not I still do some of the above but not the stuff with the sugar overload (honest!).
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PostSubject: Re: Eating in the UK in the Fifties - modern parents take note   Sat May 02, 2015 5:17 pm

Absolutely brilliant topic T Chicken was a "special occasion" food until the late 1950s unless you bred your own.
I remember how exciting it was when we received a chicken sent from country relatives for Christmas and Easter! They used to be got ready for the table, sewn into a jute feed sack and put on the train with a homemade label sewn onto the front. Dad used to go up to the station to collect it from the train guard.
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PostSubject: Re: Eating in the UK in the Fifties - modern parents take note   Sat May 02, 2015 5:22 pm

Right into the early 60s chicken was a special occasion food where I lived - only seen at Christmas. Mince was the chief meat and without oats or lentils my mum would make a pound of mince stretch ever so far - by necessity not choice. And we were not poor by the standards of the day - my dad had a decent white collar job.
Best breakfast ever is the one I used to have in summer as a child - cornflakes, cold milk, a bit of sugar and fresh raspberries from the garden - guess what I'm growing in my garden now?
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PostSubject: Re: Eating in the UK in the Fifties - modern parents take note   Sat May 02, 2015 5:28 pm

I was still at school when rationing finished and I can remember my Mum bursting into tears and throwing the ration books up in the air.Even without rationing there always seemed to be shortages of stuff,but we never went hungry.
Breakfast was porridge, made with water and sprinkled with salt and if you were lucky the 'top of the milk' .Apart from Nestles tinned cream, Gold top milk was the nearest most kids came to fresh cream.

In the summer it was cornflakes (always Kellogs with a funny cut-out mask on the back of the box for children ,free toy ) or if you were lucky Weetabix,but my Mum said cornflakes filled you up more.

I came home for lunch as the school dinners were awful, and I hated them and would rather walk a mile and a half each way at lunchtime and usually it was a sandwich ,cheese or Shippams meat paste and a slice of cake or if Mum was flush I might get a split cream doughnut of the bakers van if she was in a good mood .I can remember 'Dunkies' which were the first ring doughnuts on the market but my favorite from the bakers van was a 'London Cheesecake' which was a square puff pastry with shredded coconut covered in icing and a dab of jam in the middle I haven't seen one of those for years.
Dinner in the evening was almost always meat and two veg with the emphasis on the veg and to a lesser extent the meat.

Mondays: was always cold meat (left over from Sunday ) with mash and branston pickle(it was wash day so Mum only had to peel and mash the spuds.

Tuesdays: spam fritters (sliced spam dipped in batter and fried with HM chips and peas

Wednesdays: Bangers and mash and cabbage with onion gravy

Thursdays: sliced corned beef, egg,chips and tomatoes

Fridays was almost always fish and HM chips Mum used the same fishmonger for about 20 odd years and she would ask him what was the freshest and would point out which bit of fish she wanted .He was always very polite and called her Mrs Bearn and she called him Mr Brooks.

Saturday: was sometimes liver and bacon with mash and cabbage in the winter and salad (from the garden ) in the summer
Salads were normally lettuce tomatoes beetroot and cheese or egg as the main bit of the salad Sometime if they had grown ok we had sliced up spring onions with a dollop of Heinz salad cream on top

We either had HM soup plus dinner or dinner plus a pud but never the three altogether.With your salad you had bread and butter We had a very large garden so grew a lot of the veg and soft fruit ourselves My Mum if she had a glut of tomatoes would chop some up and sprinkle a bit of sugar over them and I still think of it as a summer treat instead of strawberries
Pudding were usually semolina,rice or tapioca (I hated the last one) or often because we had a big apple tree we would have apple pie or crumble and sometimes rhubarb and custard.

We also had tinned prunes and custard as a pud now and again but not often as my Mum didn't like us children to eat too much tinned stuff.No in-between snacks at all,crisps (smiths ) were to my Mum a waste of money as she said there was hardly a potato in a packet and at 4d (2p) a time didn't fill you up, and only a biscuit with a cup of tea.You never ever helped yourself to food food times were almost set in stone breakfast at 8,lunch at 12.45 dinner in the evening at 6.30 when my Dad got home from work.If you came home from school and was hungry you might get a slice of bread and jam or an apple .Few other fruits like bananas or oranges until they became more plentiful in the mid 1950s.I was quite lucky because my Dad was a dispensing chemist and would bring home bottles of lucozade with a yellow cellophane wrapping around the neck that i would save to make decorations with at Christmas.
Christmas Dinner was nearly always one of our chickens that my Dad would kill for the table I never tasted turkey until I was married in 1962.

One thing my Mum was always insistent on was that we never ever ate in the street God knows what she would make of the take-away society of today.She never owned a fridge ,freezer,microwave or washing machine but managed to bring up three children healthy, clean and with a respect for their elders (or else)
But thats how Mums were in those far off days She worked tirelessly indoors looking after us all and looking back I feel sure she did without a lot of things so her children could have what she considered was the best she could.
I can never remember being cold, hungry or unloved which isn't a bad thing to say .
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