‘What’s the ****ing point of a fancy loaf of bread or making poncey sauce when you can buy it cheap in the shops?’ shouts one of the ghastly Gogglebox blokes when forced to watch Tom Kerridge’s ‘Top of the Shops’.
Life would be quicker if I did one huge haul of fluorescent sauces and sliced white once a week. But oh, no. Why make life easy? Even whilst cooking for other people all weekend we still go home, wash up and start again for ourselves.
The 70s were all about convenience. Mum would drive to the little local supermarket to buy a packet of Smash rather than walk round the corner to Vic le Riche’s rickety little stall with the honesty box on his muddy farm drive for a bag of freshly-dug Jersey Royals. Not really more convenient. She probably just wanted to keep up with the times.
A neighbour would bring mackerel after a day out fishing, or crabs which clattered around the kitchen floor while us lot stood on chairs, screaming. I don’t remember us eating those goodies though; probably saved for the grown-ups while we ate our reconstituted spud.
Lurch from the 70s to the yuppie years. Working for a merchant bank, it was all excess – any excuse for champagne and eating out. Lobster? Chateaubriand? Yes please. Madness really. But it was the norm.
Now? I’m at *that* age. I want good food but can’t be bothered to faff. I’m knackered and curmudgeonly. I eat the things that still make my parents grunt at suppertime: leftover Jersey Royals, roasted in a bit of oil, then dunked in a fried egg.
Instead of reaching for Nigella, if I want to bake a cake, I use Mum’s old ‘4, 4, 4, 2′ recipe for buns (4oz self-raising flour, 4oz caster sugar, 4oz marge, 2 eggs). Beat softened butter (I still use Stork, for nostalgia!) with sugar ’til pale; add the flour, then the beaten eggs. Go wild, pop in a dribble of vanilla extract. Dollop into (buttered & floured) cake tins. The whole thing takes about 20 mins, including the 15 mins baking (180 in a fan oven). Feeling yuppie? Bit of whipped cream with a little bit of icing sugar and sliced strawberries in the middle. Lush.
Homemade lunchbox muffins. What child wouldn’t want those? Not us 70s kids, to be honest. We wanted Penguins. And I still have a soft spot for a Club. Mint, please…