What meat we used to eat
Out at dinner the other evening, we 50-somethings (and more) fell to talking about the food we had, or had not, eaten when we were kids in the (non-metropolitan) UK. It was an object lesson in the speed of dietary change, as well, perhaps, an object lesson in our own social and cultural mobility.
We started with some of the 'nots'.
Top of the list here was olive oil. So far as we could recall, in the late 50s and early 60s olive oil wasn't something you bought at the grocers, but at the chemists. The reason for that is that it wasn't generally used for cooking, but you heated it up and used it to dampen the cotton wool that you put in your ears when you had earache.
It follows that salad dressing was not on the menu either -- or at least not the oil and vinegar variety. What we poured over our unadorned lettuce leaves and tomatoes was Heinz Salad Cream (still on the supermarket shelves but hardly a best seller, I imagine).
And pasta was striking by its absence too, or at least in the Italian dried or fresh variety. It wasnt until we were in our late teens that most of us had tasted anything other than spaghetti out of a tin (Heinz again).
And as for what we did eat?
Here it was in meat (or rather the particular bits of the animal that ended up on our plates) that we saw the biggest difference. Chicken was a luxury not a staple (presumably it was just before the advent of battery farming and antibiotic injections). Instead we regularly ate what we would now call the cheap bits or the cheap beasts: I mean things like tongue, or ox-tail, or chaps (that's pigs' cheeks, remember?) or brisket, or breast of lamb, or black pudding, or pigeon or rabbit....
Some of this we remembered as truly tasty. In fact, I've just rediscovered brisket (thanks to the encouragement of the local butcher) -- and wonderful it is too.
But before we got carried away, we remembered that it wasn't all quite so desirable. There wasn't much enthusiasm round the table for that old staple of tripe and onions (pictured above), nor regret for its passing from our culinary repertoire -- though presumably tripe and other hard-core parts of the cow are still a fairly major constituent, albeit ground-up, of "valu-burgers" (is it better to see what you are eating, or not?)
Can anyone add to this list of recently lost foods....? Kraft processed cheese triangles? Blancmange?