Following the recent visit of The-Son-from-another-Mother, a package arrived – from The Real Mother in the Wirral. A wonderful, handwritten note in a card (I’m so bad at that, these days), a cushion cover which she rightly knew I’d adore, and a set of booklets.
The booklets are fascinating: their publication spans a century – from Jamie Oliver in the 21st, to publications by the National Food Economy League and the Board of Education’s Economy in Food, early in the 20th.
The last was published in July 1915 – exactly a century before its arrival, in The Sandbag House, in July 2015.
It is clearly well-thumbed, dispensing sage advice which drives home that old cliché: the more things change, the more they stay the same. Or, perhaps it’s a matter of things coming full circle?
In his introduction, then President of the Board of Education, Arthur Henderson,* admonishes readers to save money, eat less meat, not waste food and to buy economically. Because of the First World War, also the War to end all Wars.
“Save money, eat less meat, don’t waste food and buy economically” seems to be a mantra for 21st century: it’s a different war though (not that we live in an idyllic world with no wars – on the contrary, there is more war now than ever). This war is being fought on several fronts: a recession, a war over whether or not meat is good for you and/or whether its production is detrimental to the environment which, in turn, is under threat – some would say – from humanity’s mere existence.
I was fascinated, going through the booklet, to find recipes for dishes that were childhood favourites of mine: kedgeree (for years, my childhood wish for a birthday supper) and fish pie (still a favourite winter comfort food).
And, strangely enough, when the package arrived, I had been going make a fish pie – until I found some “new” potatoes at the market. Consequently we had, effectively, a deconstructed fish pie of lightly pan-fried hake, new potatoes cooked with mint, and loads of parsley sauce, served with this season’s first peas.
So, from a cooking and, perhaps lifestyle perspective, what has really changed between 1915 and 2015?
One doesn’t cook with dripping, suet or lard anymore. My mother, who grew up on rations in the Second World War, used all three: she always had a bowl of dripping in the fridge (for roasting and frying), suet was used for the Christmas pudding (and the odd dumpling) and lard for pastry!
I wonder: how many people know what lard is?
I use olive or canola oil if I need any additional oil or fat for frying or roasting. I confess to never having made a Christmas pudding, let alone a dumpling, and would never dream of using lard for pastry!
A different kind of century
In reflecting on changes in cooking habits over the last century, I thought it was quite apt that this will be the 100th post on Fiona’s Favourites, and that it will be in July 2015. The fiftieth was posted on the 12th of December 2014, 11 months after I started blogging, and on which day, I actually posted twice, something I’d never done before, nor since. The next fifty have followed in roughly half that time.
In the blog’s first year, it had 3,233 views. In the year to date, it’s had more 3,300, and counting. Fiona’s Favourites continues to evolve and has had visitors, from parts of the world I am likely never to see, from Gibraltar to Trinidad and Tobago, and from Albania to Burma. Fiona’s Favourites has followers on Facebook and Twitter, as well as more recently, Bloglovin‘. I have friendships with fellow bloggers from all over the world, on WordPress, where I have become part of a robust and vibrant virtual community that reflects the real world in which we live.
And here’s to the next milestone, whatever it might be!
* Arthur Henderson, as President of the Board of Education (effectively Minister of Education), was an interesting man. The Glaswegian son of a labourer and a domestic worker who entered an apprenticeship at 12 (completed at 17, and working at 12, would have modern parents and lawmakers having, as my Glaswegian father would have said, ginger twins), he entered politics (Labour, of course) and went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
I could rant, for hours, about how Henderson’s qualifications and career path would be viewed in the 21st century, but I’ll reserve that for my day job.
Read more about about him using these links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Henderson
© Fiona’s Favourites 2015