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Friday, 25 July 2014

Remembering food

I called at my cousin’s house yesterday and she had been looking after her grandchildren.  Young Tina had wanted chips* for tea but there were no chips in the freezer so Grandma got a potato, peeled it, chipped it and made the chips the old fashioned way. 

Tina was fascinated.  She’s nine and she’d never seen how chips are made.  She’s in a family where pizza, cake, bread, pastry jam and most other things are made from scratch but not chips.  She didn’t know that the starting point is a potato.

So we had the inevitable conversation about what things were like when her grandmother and I were children (we are both in our early sixties).  We mentioned door step milk deliveries which happened before we got up.  We talked about daily shopping trips for fresh food in those days before our families had fridges.  We talked about making bacon and sausages.  We talked about eating only seasonal vegetables and the amazement we all felt when Surprise Peas came on the market (anyone else remember those?).

Tina was amazed and thought it all wonderful.  But she wasn’t too impressed when we talked about the frequency with which liver appeared on the menu, about having to clear your plate and being offered no alternatives. 

I think Tina actually has the best of both worlds: most of her food is prepared from scratch and yet her mum is able to give her the wonderful variety of foodstuffs which we enjoy today.

And she has a Mum and a Grandma who don’t have to spend all their time doing housework and cooking and instead have time to play with her.

*If you happen to live to the west of the Atlantic read fries for chips.  What you call chips we call crisps.


  1. Isn`t Tina lucky to have grandma for education in history as well as playtime. Not many families nowadays have their elder folk close to hand, and I`m sure that those children will often miss out on valuable education and sensible leisure time activities. I`m looking forward to having some quality time in the kitchen with my granddaughter when she comes of age where she can be trusted with sharp implements under my supervision. Cooking and baking skills are something that we grandparents can often teach with much more patience and time than most stressed out parents can muster. Learning where food comes from is a vital part of learning those skills, too. I think that all children should have the opportunity to find out about food items and where they begin their life cycle. Your cousin is doing a valuable job as responsible grandparent!

  2. I think she's the best grandma a child could have. She takes the children out and does crafty activities at home with them. Also everybody (and that's a lot of people) goes to Grandma for Sunday lunch and the children learn invaluable lessons just by sitting down properly for a proper meal at which there are always guests

  3. We grandmothers have a lot to teach our grandchildren, in the nicest possible way.
    Were Surprise peas the sort of dried ones in a pack, that you boiled?

    1. Yes, they were dried peas that still looked like peas after you had cooked them - unlike processed dried (mushy) peas. They tasted better too but once frozen peas became a widely available possibility Surprise peas disappeared.