Wednesday 9 November 2022

Mrs Beeton's Nourishing Soup for the Poor

Mrs Beeton (of Household Management fame) used to make soup for the poor in her copper (an early washing machine with a fire in the base). It held several gallons, into which she poured half a pound of sugar,  half a pound of salt, and stale bread. The rest consisted of bones and meat scraps, rice, and root and green vegetables. If the soup was destined for the middle-class dinner table, she pushed it through a sieve.



An ox-cheek, any pieces of trimmings of beef, which may be bought very cheaply (say 4 lbs.), a few bones, any pot-liquor the larder may furnish, 1/4 peck of onions, 6 leeks, a large bunch of herbs, 1/2 lb. of celery (the outside pieces, or green tops, do very well); 1/2 lb. of carrots, 1/2 lb. of turnips, 1/2 lb. of coarse brown sugar, 1/2 a pint of beer, 4 lbs. of common rice, or pearl barley; 1/2 lb. of salt, 1 oz. of black pepper, a few raspings, 10 gallons of water.

Mode: Cut up the meat in small pieces, break the bones, put them in a copper, with the 10 gallons of water, and stew for 1/2 an hour. Cut up the vegetables, put them in with the sugar and beer, and boil for 4 hours. Two hours before the soup is wanted, add the rice and raspings, and keep stirring till it is well mixed in the soup, which simmer gently. If the liquor reduces too much, fill up with water.

Time: 6-1/2 hours. Average cost, 1-1/2d per quart. (That's a penny-halfpenny.)

Note: The above recipe was used in the winter of 1858 by the Editress, who made, each week, in her copper, 8 or 9 gallons of this soup, for distribution amongst about a dozen families of the village near which she lives. The cost, as will be seen, was not great; but she has reason to believe that the soup was very much liked, and gave to the members of those families, a dish of warm, comforting food, in place of the cold meat and piece of bread which form, with too many cottagers, their usual meal, when, with a little more knowledge of the "cooking" art, they might have, for less expense, a warm dish, every day.(The “raspings” were browned breadcrumbs. And she really does say “half a pound of salt”.)

Monday 2 May 2022

Fashions in Colours

In the 19th century, window frames and glazing bars could be dark green, brown or black. White came in after 1900.

Artificial "aniline" dyes arrived mid-century, enabling vivid greens and purples. Notoriously, the popular green was created with arsenic that poisoned milliners, seamstresses and feather dressers.

Orange dye was invented in the late 19th century but was not used much until the 1920s when it was all over the place.

For their shawls, sober Victorians liked blue with grey; “turkey red” with grey, brown and beige; turkey red and brown; brown and lemon. Shades of the same colour (brown, blue) were used in the same dress.

The artistic late Victorians liked combinations of colours found in nature, in flowers, fish-skin and the wings of butterflies (sulphur yellow, salmon pink, olive green, duck-egg blue). Perhaps their eyes needed a rest after all that scarlet, lime and purple. Maize was popular for silk dresses.

1900s to 1950s Dark green paint was used for doors, gates, gateposts of factories and institutions. Corridors in institutions were painted the same dark green to shoulder height, light green above. Dark brown and beige could also be found. The darker colour was gloss – easily washed and didn’t mark. Science overalls came in the same dark green. Domestic science overalls were royal blue. Were art overalls brown? 

1900 to 1970s School uniforms came in combinations of brown, forest green, maroon (burgundy), grey, black, navy, royal blue or, daringly, dark purple.

1920s James Laver (Taste and Fashion) says that after WWI clothes were khaki and cream, and people joked that the dye was war surplus. Then women broke out into orange, black, orange and black, ochre and black, jade and orange.

1930s eau de Nil (pale mint green)

1940s maize, airforce blue, khaki

Post WWII, colours were muted. Men in particular were only allowed forest green/brown/beige/tan/ ochre/maroon/airforce blue. Teenagers’ clothes and women’s summer dresses were bright, but colour didn’t really break out until the mid-60s with dayglo lime and pink. And then it broke back in again.

1950s 50s buff, fawn, camel, gunmetal, African violet, donkey brown, goose-shit green, maroon with baby blue (surprisingly attractive), tan, forest green, Vandyke brown, cornflower, lavender, burnt orange, bottle green, maroon, mustard, petrol/electric blue, grey plus burgundy for interiors, grey/white/black plus silver (especially wallpaper on one wall with printed classical motifs such as baluster columns, Ionic column tops, or leafless forests). 

Crayola's “flesh” colour became “peach” in 1962, Prussian blue became "midnight" in 1958.

1960-65 Fawn, lime, dusty pink, gunmetal, beige, donkey brown, straw, ice blue, tomato red, midnight blue (taffeta), beige, puce (dark reddish purple), navy blue chiffon (edged with satin ribbon), flame (pinky orange), moss green, flesh (pale salmon). “Modern and striking, they were navy, magenta, mustard, striped or flowered.” (Lucy Worsley on duvet covers) By the mid-60s we rebelled and installed hot pink and orange Casa Pupo rugs.

1964 scarlet very trendy – especially as serviettes to go with your teak cigarette bowls, wood-panelled walls etc.

1965 Black and white was popular thanks to Mary Quant, and little black dresses. Black then disappeared completely for several years. Turquoise was mega, especially combined with white. Also lilac, but both were mainstream rather than hippy. 

1965-69 Purple (velvet), lime, pink, yellow, turquoise. Purple and brown, green and purple, shocking pink combined with russet and dark turquoise.

1970s Where are “lilac, magenta, rose, ruby, lime”?, moaned Helen Gurley Brown in the 70s. Replaced by “grey, rust, slate, taupe, beige, mouse-brown”.

Also popular were Airforce blue, brown with blue, beige flecked with brown, heather, russet, burgundy, rust, orange, olive, Army green. Anybody studying craft or design got introduced to the colour wheel with disastrous results. At university in 1976 my fellow students were utterly shocked that I wore pink. (Everyone wore brown with blue denim. There was even brown denim, and brown corduroy was everywhere, especially on giant floor cushions.) American tan (for tights), cream (for walls), mustard, mustard, mustard, mushroom, coffee, tan, brown, brown, brown, beige, straw, “natural”.  Moss green, pink with brown. 60s bright colours looked tacky and wrong – it was back to the army camouflage palette. There was no black until punk around 1977, though it featured in the Rocky Horror Show.

Orange/brown/cream was trendy for French trains and a hair salon in Camden Town which clung to this colour scheme for too long – it was supposed to be 30s revival. The salon is still there, unchanged, and is now vintage.

1980s Ecru for tights. Jade was ubiquitous, especially in Goretex, diagonally combined with purple or pink. Taupe, dusty pink, salmon, primrose yellow, French navy (purplish), very pale pink, very pale apricot, apricot, primrose yellow, orange, mint, stone (for practical lightweight leisure wear), blue with black, mustard with purple (didn’t catch on in a big way), electric blue with a black collar, red, red/black (also hot pink/black, lemon yellow/black, orange/black, lime/black, possibly as a nod to the 50s). There was a ghastly shade of putty/terracotta, especially horrible with French blue. Another popular palette was chrome yellow, sky blue, kelly green, scarlet for duvet covers, children’s furniture and wall art. There was a burgundy/forest green mode which went with white china with thin gold lines. Jessica Fletcher wore a very smart scarlet (blouse, pencil skirt) and jade (blazer) outfit.

Pink and grey. Pastel pink and blue. Beige with black. Black, grey, white and maroon stripes (diagonal, different widths). Maroon became “burgundy” and stayed. Clothes manufacturers were always trying to sell a colour called “mint green” which was muted, pale and barely there.

1990s Candy pink, pale sage green, mint and lilac for interiors (combined with wrought-iron furniture), chrome and ultramarine for interiors. I had a mint green short-sleeved cardigan which I kept trying to force myself to wear.

2000s Turquoise plus brown was popular.

2013 Nude plus navy appeared and quickly passed. Theresa May wore navy and salmon, grey and chrome yellow in blocks. Otherwise her clothes were plain and in very good, heavy materials like satin-backed crepe.

2015 Black and gold, very subdued colours (navy, white, grey, brown, charcoal)

2021 tells us that salmon is over. Navy, white, grey, brown, black – very subdued palette continues, apart from apricot sunray pleat skirts worn with white trainers

Saturday 26 December 2020

The Way We Wore

There’s a cycle clothes go through: unwearable, daring, fashionable, everywhere, sooo last year, grotesque, interesting, stylish, revival (but never quite accurate), museum piece. According to fashion historian James Laver, the declension reads: indecent, shameless, daring, smart, dowdy, hideous, ridiculous, amusing, quaint, charming, romantic, beautiful.

At various points in history, fashion has evolved extreme costumes or hairstyles that everybody thinks they must follow (crinolines, beehive hairdos, skirts that trail along the ground) until one day everybody quietly drops it. It goes with a kind of official myopia, an inability to see that women don’t really have 17in waists, or sloping shoulders, or eyebrows half-way up their foreheads.

More examples: wearing thin, fragile nylon stockings in all weathers, as we did in the 50s and early 60s. The thin stockings were worn with indoor shoes – in the winter. My mother recalled that you put cardboard in your shoes to try and keep your feet warm, but it wasn’t very effective.

Nylon stockings became 15 denier tights circa 1967. Tights were cold in winter, but hot in summer. Bare legs were just about OK as long as you dyed them orange. Around 1980 we gave up on the QTan and we were fine. Tights manufacturers even come out with a “white leg” shade (ecru).

Society became very conservative between 1950 and 1965. Somehow this went with the rigid hairstyles, constricting suspender belts and pinching pointy shoes. In the 50s women wore a suit, hat and high heels to go shopping – or to travel by train or air, or go up to "town" (London). My mother had beautiful tweed suits made for me and my sister, and we wore them once, to travel to Ireland by boat. If you didn’t have a hat, you wore a headscarf. In the early 60s, you wore a light chiffon scarf that wouldn’t crush your beehive.

White gloves were a must in public – from the late 19th century until the 50s. Gloves made sense when heating and cooking relied on coal, and the air in cities was full of “smuts” and every surface was dirty. An upper-class girl recalls being forced to carry a pair of “slimy, nylon” gloves whenever she went out in the 60s.

By the late 60s, hats and gloves were no longer obligatory, so manufacturers made gloves “fun” with cutouts and bright colours. Hats became big, with scarves round the crown. Headscarves vanished – and if it rained we just got wet.

Setting your hair on rollers and then back-combing it was time-consuming, sleeping in rollers was painful, and the resulting hairstyles suited nobody. Rollers lasted from the late 50s to the late 60s, but when young people dropped them older generations were shocked. They were convinced our long, limp hair was “dirty” – but we washed it far more often when we didn’t have to “set” it afterwards.

Cotton shirts, blouses, handkerchiefs, napkins, tablecloths, sheets, aprons, summer dresses – they were all starched. A stiffening of manmade fibre made this unnecessary – but had it ever been necessary?

In the early 20th century, some rabbis in the UK wore dog collars and birettas. About 30 years ago there was a lot of fuss about what women priests were going to wear (cassocks with darts!?). Now rabbis and priests sport ordinary clothes, business suits or smart workwear.

At our convent school we wore lisle stockings and pinafores, and veils in chapel. City men wore bowler hats or trilbies. Men junked the hats circa 1970 – the convent probably updated the uniform around the same year.

Barbara Cartland froze the image she adopted as a young woman in the 30s (when hundreds of men proposed, according to her). The Queen Mother and Queen Mary both stuck to the styles of their youth. When Twiggy was having tea with Noël Coward one day, a visitor arrived and: “It was Merle Oberon. It’s funny how people get stuck in the era when they were at their most glamorous. She was wearing a big black polka dot chiffon dress, with a big black bow around her waist.... with high, high heels. But she looked gorgeous.” (Twiggy in Black and White) Men get stuck with teenage rebel hair: Nigel Kennedy, Gary Rhodes, Simon Rattle.

You know you’re old when they start reviving the clothes you wore when young. When they start reviving the clothes they were reviving when you were young...

More clothes here, and links to the rest.

Monday 5 August 2019

We'll Eat Again in Quotes

Living in style: a Duchess conceives it to consist in taking her breakfast at three o'clock in the afternoon—dining at eight—playing at Faro till four the next morning—supping at five, and going to bed at six—and to eat green peas and peaches in January.
(Pierce Egan, Life in London, 1821)

A dinner of boiled fish, and of plain vegetables destined to be mixed by way of sauce with all one eats – a piece of roast beef cut from the hardest and most tasteless part of the carcase... Chairs with rush bottoms, sometimes covered with a cushion, which the least movement causes to fall to the ground. (A foreign visitor describes the British home circa 1850. Things hadn't changed much in the 1950s.)

Rejecting all dishes whereof Lady Tippins partakes: saying aloud when they are proffered to her, 'No, no, no, not for me. Take it away!'
(Our Mutual Friend, Charles Dickens, 1864 A Victorian banquet was like a tasting menu or buffet, and you didn’t have to eat everything. There might be a printed menu so you knew what was coming up.)

Don't, when you drink, elevate your glass as if you were going to stand it inverted on your nose. Bring the glass perpendicularly to the lips, and then lift it to a slight angle. Drink sparingly while eating. It is far better for the digestion not to drink tea or coffee until the meal is finished. Drink gently, and not pour it down your throat like water turned out of a pitcher.  It is not proper to drink with a spoon in the cup; nor should one, by-the-way, ever quite drain a cup or glass. (The White House Cook Book, 1887)

You had to have, when you ate, one food brought in after another, each with fresh plates and different kinds of instruments to eat them with, as if on purpose to take time and trouble the servants.
(Crewe Train, Rose Macaulay, 1926)

The 1910s dining table, which would be dotted with olives, salted almonds, sugared green peppermints, and chocolates in cut-glass bowls or silver dishes. (Cecil Beaton, The Glass of Fashion, 1954)

I seem to remember that, in those far gone days, the waiter took his order from just one of the diners, usually the one who would be paying the bill. So, say, wife and children would say what it was they wanted and Father would relay the order to the waiter, editing it as required… When a couple was out together, the convention was that the man would order and pay, all those years ago. If a group of men were dining out together, other than at their club, again, it would be assumed that one of their number would be the host, (even if they shared the cost afterwards) and he would be the one to place the order. (A friend writes.)

More here, and links to the rest.

Friday 7 June 2019


In the 18th and 19th centuries, everybody had servants. But we know better, don’t we? We don’t have servants, we have cleaners and au pairs and nannies. The rich have concierges and personal assistants.

In the early days, servants were necessary to provide light and heat. You rang for a servant to “snuff” the candles because self-consuming wicks hadn’t been invented. An unsnuffed candle would melt, and a waterfall of wax would drip on the carpet. They also cleaned and replenished the candlesticks. When oil lamps came in, they filled and cleaned them. They carried coals and logs, and built fires in every grate. A gentleman or lady could not put a lump of coal on the fire if it burned low, even with tongs – you rang for the servant.

Apart from cooking and cleaning, serving food and clearing it away, servants were necessary for sanitation. Your bedroom was your toilet as well as your bathroom, thanks to the chamber pot that lived either under the bed or in a “nightstand” next to your bed. You threw the results into a covered “slop bucket” under your washstand. Servants carried up cans of hot water for washing, and then poured the waste water into the slop bucket and carried the whole thing downstairs to the kitchen. The products of the outside privy were thrown into the ashbin where all the household waste went. This was collected after dark by “night-soil men” and was sold as fertiliser. (Flush toilets and drains arrived in the mid-19th century.)

If ladies ran out of conversation, they could always complain about their servants. The comic magazine Punch published a series of “Servant-gal-isms”, hilarious cartoons in which servants were ridiculed for calling a maisonette a mayonnaise, and having interests above their station. “Can I have the evening off, madam? Cook next door is having a Language of Flowers bee.” (A “bee” was a quiz.)

Middle-class home-owners suffered from something called “the servant problem” as new laws forced them to pay their staff a decent wage, and give them time off. Many women found better jobs in shops, cafés and factories. After World War II, servants seemed to be a thing of the past. But the 50s housewife was now expected to do the entire work of the house, cook all the meals, wash the clothes and bring up the children – singlehanded. It took a few years before people realised that this was, in fact, impossible – and labour-saving devices were born.

This long preamble is to explain why our family had servants in the 50s.
My mother produced four children in ten years. Our parents bought a big house in the country which was a bargain for several reasons. It was remote, and it was the servants’ quarters of an even bigger house that had been partitioned off. Nothing else had been done to it, and we lived with the old wallpaper for years. There was no central heating – warmth came from an Aga in the kitchen (powered by coal-dust nuggets), open fires, and paraffin stoves. In winter, we had chilblains. The Good Old Days!

We were looked after by a live-in nanny, who had been my father’s, and had been rather wished on us by my grandmother. Edie also lived in and did some of the cooking. She started boiling the cabbage at ten in the morning, so by lunchtime it resembled seaweed. A joint of meat was cooked every Sunday, and we lived on it throughout the week. It got progressively more edible as it reappeared as rissoles and cottage pie. Jam, sugar and butter were no longer on the official ration, but they were doled out parsimoniously. (“You don’t need to add sugar! It’s got sugar in it! It’s sweet enough!”) There was no chutney, and no salad cream or tomato ketchup until the 60s.

Dolly came in to clean, and Mr Young worked in the huge garden in which we grew a lot of our food. Dolly, Edie and Mr Young were all related, and eventually another family member, Mrs Thayer, became our cleaner. Edie moved on to housekeep for the single man who lived at the bottom of our garden. Nanny was pensioned off and replaced by 16-year-old Patty, who wore pointed shoes and full skirts and was involved in the Youth Club. (Why couldn’t we join when we were old enough? Or perform in the panto? They were Church of England only. Those were the days.)

Yes, it makes us sound rich and privileged, doesn’t it? Didn’t we know that it was just wrong to employ servants? "How can I ask another woman to clean my oven?" moaned a middle-class columnist recently.

Let’s take food first. Post-war, we thought we should eat meat now that it was available again, and it required a lot of preparation. There were no convenience foods, no ready meals. You couldn’t buy a tray of cooked chicken pieces, or even chicken legs or fillets. If you wanted chicken, you bought a bird. At least they came featherless, with the giblets wrapped in paper inside. Fish sometimes came whole, requiring “cleaning”, and rabbits came with fur. There were no takeaways apart from the odd chip shop and of course we couldn’t go to one of those. Vegetables were sold caked in dirt. Desserts, scones, cakes, jam, marmalade were home-made. Without freezers, veg was preserved in Kilner jars (or you opened a tin). We'd have been happy with macaroni cheese, sausages, bacon or beans on toast, all of which can be cooked in half an hour. But they were an occasional treat.

The laundry: Our first washing machine had a boiler compartment, and a mangle. This monster was replaced by a “twin-tub” with a terrifying spin-dryer. We kept these devices until they wore out – they must have been expensive. It was much harder to get credit, and “hire-purchase” or “the HP” was looked down on by people like us, partly because you ended up paying much more for the thing. There were no disposable nappies.

Cleaning: Our house was too big, and inconvenient, with dark unused spaces left over as the Victorians extended further and further out.

Clothes: My mother made quite a lot of ours, and her own. Jerseys and vests were knitted by our grandmother and great-aunts. Kind friends passed on clothes their children had grown out of.

Outings and entertainments were few, and we had no TV for years. (My father was given one as part-payment for a job.) On holiday, we took huge picnics instead of going to cafés.

So, we heated our bedrooms inefficiently with paraffin, wore hand-me-downs, grew our own food – and employed servants? I hope I’ve made the case that running a home was far harder work in those days, and it was cheaper to hire someone to do some of it than to buy the washer-drier that wasn’t on the market yet.

Despite all this, 50s husbands expected to come home to a fancy dinner every evening, served by candlelight and to be eaten with silver cutlery. The pre-war life enabled by servants was supposed to continue.

In the 60s, we delightedly tried out TV dinners (once), and bought Lyons cakes (delicious). We experimented with spaghetti, Instant Whip, Nesquik, yoghurt, peanut butter and Dairylea cheese triangles. Food became “fun”. The house was remodelled and redecorated. “Nightstor” heaters were installed to “take the chill off” – we weren’t allowed to turn them up. We acquired a huge freezer and my mother cooked a lot of pies to be defrosted later. And of course freezing transformed shopping – though I can’t recommend the French beans. The legs of mutton disappeared and were not missed.

We were better-off now and we all relaxed a bit. The youngest went to school, Patty got married and only Mrs Thayer remained. (When my mother met her again years later she hugged her and addressed her as “Joyce”, later commenting how times had changed.)

These days, we wouldn't dream of cooking anything that took three hours to prepare. And standards have slipped a bit – who cares about a bit of dust? Anyway, we've got rid of all those dust-gathering knick-knacks. Why make work for yourself? 

Were we terrible people to employ servants? Does it mean that we were so privileged that we should spend the rest of our lives apologising? Or was it just the way we lived then?

Thanks to Dirty Old London by Lee Jackson, and Mrs Woolf and the Servants by Alison Light.

Monday 5 November 2018

Kitchen Gadgets

Scoop for creating perfect melon/ice cream/mashed potato balls.
Vast heavy Kenwood mixer which takes up huge amounts of space.
Horlicks maker.
Icing bag. Ditto for creating decorative mashed potato effects.
Potato peeler.
Nutmeg grater.
Bread board with BREAD carved into the rim.
Enamel bread bin in which the bread goes rapidly stale and mouldy.
Heavy metal mincer you screw to the pine kitchen table.
Canteen of cutlery (wedding present).
Everything "wipe-clean".
Apron home-made from remnants.
Role model: perfect housewife.

Gas-powered corkscrew.
Sink waste disposal unit.
Electric carving knife.
Vast earthenware mixing bowl suitable for a country house kitchen.
Coffee percolator.
Filter coffee maker (easy to tip over).

Knives with a serrated bit, a cutting edge and a spike for picking up and serving chunks of cheese.

Wooden salad bowl which you're not allowed to wash, heavy iron omelette pan ditto.
Victorian style set of flour, sugar, cocoa etc tins.
Cream maker.
Egg poacher.
Pressure cooker.
Rubber pan scrapers.
Salad servers with decorated ceramic handles.
Toasted sandwich maker.

Freezer, and a freezer compartment in the fridge (food came marked with stars showing how long you could freeze it for).

Wooden steak tenderiser.
Fish knives, but designed in Sweden and made of stainless steel.
Runcible spoon with a serrated edge.
Potato masher.
Kebab skewers.
Skewers for skewering a vast joint of meat.
Lemon zester.
Gadget for piercing the top of a boiled egg.
Mandolin for slicing boiled eggs.
Striped unisex butcher apron.
Role model: perfect housewife, sophisticated lady.

Fondue set.
Enamel saucepans, coffee pots and colanders from France (classic design, if it ain’t broke...).

Tinny coffee makers you set on the gas and then turn over – again from France or Italy. (Percolators were "common", perhaps because they were American.)

Skewers for baking potatoes faster.
Orange and blue Le Creuset casseroles.
Lever corkscrews.
Thick pottery soup bowls with a handle.
Mezzaluna from Italy for chopping fresh herbs.
Large glass jars with wooden lids for displaying different types of pasta.
Wire vegetable racks (we used a set of office in and out trays).
Wooden knife block.

Marble pestle and mortar sets that we gave each other for Christmas and nobody ever used (they were for crushing your own cardamom seeds instead of buying curry powder).

Bouqet garni bags we gave each other for Christmas. Single people in particular got given these to encourage them to give dinner parties – it was the speed dating of its time.

Bunches of dried herbs and dried flowers.
Stripped pine standalone furniture.
Bamboo egg whisks from Chinatown.
A shelf of paperbacks.
Butcher apron as before, or a plastic one in the same style with a jokey message.
Role model: earth mother or academic.

Pasta maker.
Catering-size toaster.
Catering knives and equipment from Jaeggi in Soho.
Fish slices and tureen spoons hanging from hooks.
Set of bamboo steamers from Chinatown, never used.
Philippe Starck lemon squeezer (because everything has to be "designer").
Alessi knives (ditto).
Don’t phone for the fish knives, we don’t use them any more.
Brushed steel counter tops like a French café, everything built in.

It was about efficiently whipping up gourmet food despite working long hours and earning pots of money. All these gadgets were mainly for show, the gleaming steel being a sign of practicality, modernity and ruthlessness.

No apron – you just got soup on your dirndl skirt. Role model: banker.


Pizza wheel.
Raclette set.
What's an apron?

Electric lemon squeezer.

At some point we worked out that we could keep sliced bread in the freezer compartment instead of a bread bin. Enamel bread bins turn up on Bargain Hunt.

Plastic tomatoes and onions for saving half apples, onions etc. Also come in “banana”.
Apple slicer.
Slow cooker.
Air fryer.
George Forman grill.

What’s a corkscrew? And how am I going to attach the mincer to the island?

Saturday 3 November 2018

We'll Eat Again: the 80s

1980: M&S starts selling packaged sandwiches, and everybody follows.

Boeuf en croute (Beef Wellington), salmon en croute

Belgian creperies were everywhere. (The crepes were wholewheat, and stuffed with stuff. They were small, thin, limp, tepid and not much use if you were actually hungry.)

Vegetarians ate “something something bake”. Layered aubergine, tomato and mozarella. Or stir-fried veg with satay sauce.

fried potato skins with dips

raspberry vinegar

raspberry coulis (very thin, non-fattening sauce)

garlic cheesecake

steak sandwiches washed down with Rolling Rock, Sol and Peroni


sun-dried tomatoes (as a dish on their own in too much olive oil)


French onion soup

beetroot shavings

American burgers and burger sauces

blueberry muffins (fairy cakes)

blueberry cheesecake

kiwi fruit

nouvelle cuisine (Tiny portions on a black octagonal plate. Again, no use if you're hungry.)

raw baby spinach salad

herby sausages with far too much sage


balsamic vinegar

shiitake mushrooms (You were supposed to grow your own on a log.)

pears in chocolate sauce

tomato tart

fried black pudding with potato/swede mash (Black Lightning)

Banoffee pie

baby vegetables

mange-tout peas

wild rice, red rice from the Camargue

black Puy lentils

steamed vegetables (Meant you had to buy a steamer - it was a decade of kitchen equipment.)

brandysnap baskets

mustard dressing with whole dark mustard seeds


mozarella in carozza

deep-fried breaded Camembert

sorrel soup

But the bread in sandwiches was always stale, unless you went to a café where they made a bespoke sandwich before your very eyes, taking the sliced bread out of the plastic. Thank heavens for Pret!

More food here.