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Eating In The Uk In The Fifties


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For those of you who are old enough to remember, enjoy.
For the rest - it's a history lesson!!

Very surprising how time and memory has taken its toll. Have things really changed this much in our time?

Curry was a surname. A takeaway was a mathematical problem.

A pizza was something to do with a leaning tower. Bananas and oranges only appeared at Christmas time.

All crisps were plain; the only choice we had was whether to put the salt on or not.

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. 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.

Coffee was Camp, and came in a bottle. Cubed sugar was regarded as posh.

Only Heinz made beans. 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.

Sugar enjoyed a good press in those days, and was regarded as being white gold.
Prunes were medicinal. Surprisingly muesli was readily available, it was called cattle feed.

Pineapples came in chunks in a tin; we had only ever seen a picture of a real one.

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.

The one thing that we never ever had on our table in the fifties .. was elbows!

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In the little country villages of Wiltshire that still applied in the 1960s

In the outer Hebrides it still applied in the 1980's except for the curry you did get something undescribable with the appelation "curry",  in the junior ranks Mess.

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This is so random! But thoroughly enjoyable!:love

I've only ever had a vesta curry on a Duke of Edinburgh expedition in the late 1990s we had to carry all our own food! One of the scout leaders suggested it, beef if memory serves it was a good supplement to bean feasts and pot noodles! I hadn't realised it was available 60 or 70 years ago! 

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Olive oil from.the chemist in small bottles.spaghetti harvest the best April fools joke ever by no less then Richard Dimblebee.The first UK  Mc d in Woolwich. Marina  And I went  there in the 70s.So hip.However look at us as a nation now over weight and not very fit.

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In the 1960's the nearest thing we had to a Chinese restaurant was a place called the "Malaya", where the tables were sticky and you could order weird generic Asian food. It probably wasn't very good, but we didn't know any better. If you wanted to eat Chinese or Indian at home, it involved either adding a teaspoon of curry powder to a beef or chicken stew or the aforementioned Vesta beef curry or chow mein, none of which bore much of a relationship to the real thing.  We has the influx of refugees from Uganda in the early 70's and a couple of Asian kids joined our school. The local education authority thoughtfully added minced beef curry to the school dinner menu to make them feel at home.  Sadly, the take-up wasn't great because they were probably Hindus.

My mother came to the UK from Austria and knew how to prepare many dishes that we would have termed exotic in those days. However, my dad was a devotee of plain cooking: fish had to be battered haddock, rice belonged only in a pudding, onions and garlic were the work of the devil and pasta, herbs, spices and anything involving a sauce, likewise. Even gravy was a little bit suspect in dad's eyes.

I first encountered authentic curry in Bradford in 1972 and initially hated it, but acquired the taste after a couple of meals and it has never left me.  I did not experience authentic Italian cooking until 1979 and that too was a revelation. Even as late as 1987, I recall spending 2 hours looking for a jar of olives in a local town. Eventually I tracked down a tin of wizened black specimens, in the town's only deli,  that tasted as though they had been hanging around on the shelf for a long, long time. It is amazing how things have changed in the last 50 years. 



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A small greengrocers in Gillingham became the original importer of garlic in the late 50s early 60s. Just a humble store, Always remember seeing him sweeping outside the shop and setting up his display each day. he became so successful that he distributed all around the UK. 

The guy made a fortune and set up trust funds that his grandchildren and great grandchildren still benefit from today. 

Shrewd old fella he was. 


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5 hours ago, stumpy said:

Three words - Vesta Chow Mein!!!

I can remember my Mum bringing home a Vesta meal. Slaving over a hot whatever she cooked it in and serving it to all four in the family. Not one each...one Vesta meal between four of us. She'd seen the photo on the front of the box and imagined that the product contained the vast quantity of ingredients pictured.

Like Steve...Bradford was my initiation into the curry. My first ever was in the Shimla before the Adil and then the Paradise...by the morgue (made red curries for some reason) became my regular. I can still picture the Adil menu up on the wall. Veg Curry, Chicken Curry, Meat Curry and finally 'Named Meat' curry. And no I never dare ask for fear they said 'Spot' or 'Rover'.

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My curry initiation took place in the Kashmir or "Kash" as it was known - also near the morgue, as it happened. No menus in those days. You could have Kemal (mince) curry for 18p, "meat" was 20p, chicken was 25p. Each meal came with 3 chappatis , a glass of water and a little saucer of something resembling raita, with slices of raw onion and tomato.

On my first time there, a drunk fell down the stairs (the place was in a basement) staggered across the floor, opened a door, urinated in a dustbin, zipped himself up and staggered back across the floor, up the stairs and out again. Where else could you get a meal and a floor-show for 25p or less in 1972?

On Tim's point, II remember the Shimla with affection. Always felt it was a bit upmarket because you could ask for a bowl of sliced raw chillis, just in case your curry wasn't hot enough. Glory Days- I have not had curry of the same excellent quality since I left there.



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1 minute ago, SteveO said:

I have not had curry of the same excellent quality since I left there.

I have...in Gainsborough of all places. Took Uncle Albert to a newly opened Curry House in town. Uncle Albert of course was at his best...read that as worst.
The waiter came to take our order.
"Where are you from?" asks Uncle Albert.
"Where do you think I'm from?" asked the waiter.
To cut Uncle Albert mid stride I butted in.
"He's from Bradford." I said quickly.
The waiter started.
"How did you know?" the waiter asked.
"You accent...you keep saying Kerry not cUrry. Manningham I'd say but I've not been in years."
The waiter left with our order and after some rummaging around in the back returned with a jug of water and two glasses.
"For old times sake." he said plonking them on the table. "You two remind me of someone, a TV programme but I forgot the name." he continued.
The meal was huge the bill tiny.
"I've remembered who you remind me of." said the waiter after we paid and tipped.
"Go on then.." I said.
"Steptoe and Son."
"Oh gee thanks!"

Sadly after they built the business up they sold it to a crew from Leicester and moved on to start another curry house in another town to then build and sell that business.

Leicester curry...well it's too high falootin to be a proper curry. I mean...table cloths...cutlery? What's that all about?

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