Thursday, 9 July 2015

The sort of food we ate

when I was a very young kitten is very different from the sort of food I eat now - or is it?
I was reminded of this yesterday when our friend Polly sent me a thank you note and, with it, this:


Pasta was not eaten in Australia.
Curry was a surname.
A takeaway was a mathematical problem.
A pizza was something to do with a leaning tower.
All potato chips were plain; the only choice we had was whether to put the salt on or not.
Rice was only eaten as a milk pudding.
Calamari was called squid and we used it as fish bait.
A Big Mac was what we wore when it was raining.
Brown bread was something only poor people ate.
Oil was for lubricating, fat was for cooking.
Tea was made in a teapot using tea leaves and never green.
Sugar enjoyed a good press in those days, and was regarded as being white gold. Cubed sugar was regarded as posh.
Fish didn't have fingers in those days.
Eating raw fish was called poverty, not sushi.
None of us had ever heard of yoghurt.
Healthy food consisted of anything edible.
People who didn't peel potatoes were regarded as lazy.
Indian restaurants were only found in India.
Cooking outside was called camping.
Seaweed was not a recognised food.
"Kebab" was not even a word, never mind a food.
Prunes were medicinal.
Surprisingly, muesli was readily available, it was called cattle feed.
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!!

But the one thing that we never ever had on our table in the sixties ..... "
Elbows or our phones.

And I was reminded of some other things. We lived in the bush so meat was provided by one of the local farmers. We had a "hind quarter" of mutton one week and a "fore quarter" the next in one place and much the same everywhere else. Lamb? What was that? I remember one of the farmers killing a steer once - but only after consulting everyone around him as to whether they too would like some beef. Bacon was only available from the butcher - an hour or more away by car. Most people never ate pork unless they kept pigs and slaughtered the pigs themselves. 
Every morning my brother would go to get the milk from the closest farm. It came straight from the dairy. It was not pasteurised. My mother would put it in big flat pans on top of the wood-burning Metters No. 5 - a bit like an Aga for those of you in Upover. It would cook gently. The cream would rise and she would skim it off so that we always had cream - and rather a lot of it.
We ate a lot of "stew" and chops with mashed potato, carrots, pumpkin, beans or peas. My father grew those because buying them all the time was far too expensive and you had to ask the only local "general store" to order them.
Bread was delivered to the store only on Fridays. All bread was square and white and my mother would ration it out so it lasted until the next Friday.  We rarely saw cake or biscuits in our house. My mother didn't have time to make them because she was teaching full time as well and she also had to clothe us because you couldn't just go into a shop and buy something. Even in the city there were limitations on such things. She knitted our jumpers and cardigans as she patrolled the school yard during playtime.
And there was that incredibly special treat if you travelled to the nearest place of any size - ice cream. The only available flavour was vanilla. It came in a round metal can which must have been a gallon in size. The shopkeeper would scoop it out into "single cones" and we would lick it at just the right speed to be sure it lasted a good long time but didn't melt.
I wonder about all this now. There is "no time" to prepare meals from scratch or make clothes. People are always on the move - and in a rush. It is all rather sad.
But there is something even worse. Ice cream isn't a treat any more. It is something harassed parents buy to keep the children quiet while they rush around the supermarket. I find that very sad indeed. 

1 comment:

jeanfromcornwall said...

You remind me so much of the food that we ate in the 1950's - apart from the difficulties you had with distances downunder. I have a 1950's cookery book from the Western Australia Countrywomen's Association, and the bit that fascinates me most is the recommended weeks menus obviously designed for a family and the workers. Never mentioned, but quite obviously understood, is that the week begins with "slaughter a sheep". The first bit eaten was the liver and kidneys.