Column: Delights and frights of a seventies’ dinner plate

Joys of a seventies' school dinner
Joys of a seventies' school dinner

In the days, when ‘five a day’ meant sweetie bags, and vegetables was a foreign word, childhood food was something else.

Take school dinners.

Meat was omnipresent then, with great aluminium trays of the stuff or sausages which seemed not of this world, though tasted good enough.

Pastry would encase nearly everything from cheese to mince while great jugs of skin-covered custard were poured on to stodgy puds and fruit was something we barely knew, save tangerines.

Instead, a small scooped heap of potato would sit forlornly on your plate or cabbage which had been boiled to the afterlife, but that was about it. All would be smothered in gravy.

We often had pink or green custard. While the pink was acceptable,the green one was minging and did not belong with its chocolate sponge ‘friend’.

I also recall corn flaked jammy pie for dessert, which was good, and a daily dose of sponge pudding.

So what of our general diet?

Bacon and eggs, shepherd’s pie and baked beans. Ring any bells?

Shepherd’s pie, that lovely meld of mince and mash, was a weekly treat along with bangers and mash.

Also, back then, the word ‘chops’ would be heard around the land. Pork chops and lamb chops were a regular feature. HP Sauce, tomato ketchup and salad cream would be squidged on nearly everything too.

Meals out had less choice back then. Perhaps steak; chicken Kiev or gammon as a main with the ubiquitous Black Forest gateau for dessert.

In cafes, you would see orange fish-tanked stuff to drink and whooshing Horlicks machines, Angelica covered cream cakes and finger buns topped with cheese, ham or egg. The latter would be welded to limp cress.

Crisps came in only three flavours – plain; salt and vinegar or cheese and onion. They seemed to taste better that way too!

Then, the fish supper would be wrapped in newspaper and carried away by two warmed hands.

There were only two types of pasta of our acquaintance – spaghetti and macaroni. The first often in alphabet shapes and the second in cheese. Healthy it wasn’t, delicious it was.

Ah, Bisto!