Thursday, 31 March 2016

One hundred years of one house in Well Hall part 10........... from bread and dripping to Museli

This is the continuing story  of one house in Well Hall Road and of the people who lived there including our family.*

Now I suspect pretty much every generation thinks that there’s was the one which has seen the most profound change and I am the first to accept that mine has no monopoly on the new inventions, mould breaking fashions and seminal music.

But there is no doubt that those of us born just after the last war, who started school in the early 1950s and are just beginning to enter retirement have experienced a bewildering revolution in what we eat and how we prepare that food.

I will have been four when rationing was finally abandoned, and in the succeeding decades came to take for granted a huge range of new foods sourced from all over the world and delivered within hours of being harvested.

And of course with all that came a deluge of specialist utensils, ever larger cookers and the microwave.

All of which makes me think back to our tiny kitchen at 294, which was just large enough to take an old battered Cannon gas cooker, and small fridge which nestled either side of the sink.

In their wisdom the architects had provided a largish store cupboard under the stairs and here went the bulk of our dried and tinned food.

And what couldn’t be found the cupboard or the fridge was still bought fresh and eaten on the same day.

But the fridge is the key to the change.

In the 1950s the growing reliance on frozen food would lift some of the drudgery out of preparing food.

Now I still like washing carrots, peeling potatoes and shelling peas but for sheer speed nothing beats opening the packet of frozen peas.

And sixty years ago the adverts for frozen foods focused on that simple message that they were quick to use and because of the way they had been frozen on the day they were harvested were bound to be fresher than the peas and carrots which had made their way from the field via the market to the small greengrocer, whose turn over dictated that the produce might sit for days before it was bought.

Of course few people in 1956 had a fridge let along a freezer which was why the bags of frozen vegetables came in small sizes which were bought and used on the same day.

And in much the same way out went the old fashioned breakfast of porridge, eggs, bacon and toast in favour of the breakfast cereal.

Now these had been around since the 1930s, and there are ads in the collection for Corn Flakes and Rice Crispies, but the 50s offered up a new and exciting range, often marketed with a toy or other novelty and clearly aimed at the young.

Mother was quick off the mark to try the "new TV dinners  for one" which came out in the late 50s but equally died a death in our house as too expensive and not that nice.

Instead we reverted to simpler home cooked food but there was no going back on the changes that had happened.

As each of us left to set up our own homes the variety and the quantity of what we bought and ate just kept on growing.

But Dad preferred his tins, and on one memorable evening after I had cooked a pasta dish he smiled and said quietly that "it was good but  didn't really like  food messed about."

Location;Well Hall, Eltham, London

Pictures;  adverts for Birds Eye Foods and Sugar Puffs, from Woman’s Own, January 12 1956

*One hundred years of one house on Well Hall Road,

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