More squid, sir?
Editor ponders the rapid and extensive changes in the UK diet
The other day, as I served tapas of smoked paprika prawns, crispy squid and patatas bravas (all homemade, natch…) to my 11-year-old son and his friend as they lolled in front of the footy, curtains drawn against the sun, I began to wonder what we ate during my own childhood heatwave (1976).
I know, I do this a lot, looking back into the halcyon days of childhood, but it fascinates me how massively things have changed, to the extent that none of my brood have seen a piece of tripe, let alone suffer its presence on their plate, yet to them, calamari is as workaday as beans on toast.
Thus, as I waited upon Little Lord Fauntleroy #1 and #2, I got to thinking about what my own dear mama – who was greatly accomplished in the kitchen, though of a generation for whom olive oil and garlic were mysteries until she was well into her forties – was in the habit of serving us and our friends.
Certainly, rocket and radicchio were not on the menu, thus our salads comprised Little Gem lettuce and tomatoes from the garden with hard boiled egg, boiled ham, and Heinz Salad Cream (now, mystifyingly re-named ‘Sandwich Cream’ because Heinz has decided people don’t know what to do with it now that we have mayonnaise) – and very good they were, too.
Our closest equivalent to tapas was Walker’s Crisps and chunks of cheese, my mother would have no more known what to do with a baby squid than she would a flat tyre (ie, nothing whatsoever), and if she’d seen me giving her grandson his beloved charred scallops and chorizo she’d have called the NSPCC. How have things changed so completely? I guess it began with early package holiday experimentation (my father and I were very poorly on a dodgy paella circa 1977) and increased access to international ingredients. All of which is wonderful. Mind you, we still serve up Heinz Salad Cream in our house, don’t you?