Sunday, 18 October 2015

The story of one house in Lausanne Road number 46 ............. hot chestnuts and toasted crumpets

The story of one house in Lausanne Road over a century and a half and of one family who lived there in the 1950s.*

Now we really did roast hot chestnuts by the open fire and crumpets using one of those long forks which later became one of mum’s knitting needles after the fork was lost.

On balance I have to say for all sorts of reasons a toasting fork wins out over a knitting needle.

But with one of those sweeping decisions which was characteristic of mother the fireplace was replaced by one of those three bar electric fires with the imitation logs at the bottom and if the light bulb and fan worked well it was magic.

Not that a three bar electric fire even with imitation logs is any good for roasting chestnuts.

So dad cooked them on the top of the stove in the kitchen.

Forty years on I have never managed to replicate the roasted chestnuts on our coal fires and resort to the oven while the crumpets worked best in the toaster.

Such are the ways we try to relive our past, and by extension what we pass on to our kids.

So they have all had their share of chestnuts, got the coal in and come down on Christmas Day to their presents in big stockings which are just colourful copies of the pillow cases we used in Lausanne Road.

That last tradition still shapes the start of the day even though they are all now grown up.

But Christmas stories are for another time instead and with not a hint of nostalgia I am drawn back to the foods of my youth.

Like you would expect they are the stuff of stories I have written about already.

Many owed much to the food my parents had eaten, coloured with a few from the years of war and rationing and finished off with a whole shedful of dishes from the time when we never had it so good.

There were the stews and soups which were more full of vegetables than meat, tons of dumplings and a host of reiepies using the cheapest cuts and just a few from Nana who was born and grew up in Cologne.

And then along came the 1950s, which offered up ready to make blancmange, fish fingers, TV dinners and Vesta curries.**

All of which meant that with rising living standards more money at the end of the week the cherished sugar sandwiches, and the apple ones along with spaghetti with milk and sugar slipped from the table.

Some I have revisited but others have rightly stayed in the larder of my memory but the chestnuts are in the shops again the ingredients for the Christmas cake have been bought and the coal fires have been running since later July.

Pictures; coal fires from Beech Road, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*The story of one house in Lausanne Road,

**Blancmange ........ with a bit of nostalgia and a history lesson in fast food from the 19th century,

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