Too Much Choice?

It'll have to be 'fridge supper tonight...there's half a squash lurking in the veggie drawer...why ever I buy Squashes heaven only knows...they don't actually taste of anything...just a sort of yellowy mush. There's a healthy looking carrots 'cos the donkeys have eaten those...and some potatoes and mushrooms...just found a couple of sweet peppers as well. Himself can have some long as I keep it well up one end of the oven pan so it doesn't ooze over my can ooze over his though.

Do you think we have grown far too complacent over what we have available to eat? Faced with supermarket shelves groaning under the weight of a dozen different types of olive oil...peppers available all the year round...such a huge choice of breakfast cereals and yoghurts...biscuits and packaged cakes.

Even the egg display offers free-range...corn-fed free range...freedom free range...and those big trays of cheap tasteless eggs that come from battery farms. They don't say that though...they call that sort 'special offer' eggs.

I like the choice, even if I don't avail of first pressed olive oil grown on a Sicilian mountainside in a pretty bottle...we only eat porridge oats so it wouldn't bother me if the shop had run out of Crispie Cocoa Nut Flakes...I don't much care for the idea of aloe vera scented toilet rolls either but can see some people might make a beeline for them...

Shopping with my Mother on a Saturday morning was simple...the fish-monger for cod cheeks for a fish pie...the grocer for cheese that he cut with a wire and had a thick rind on beans...butter, and sugar in a blue bag. Woolworths for a pound in weight of broken biscuits...another grocer for the flour and pudding rice and the loose tea made to his special blend...then the butcher for a piece of beef which lasted most of the week.

All the vegetables came from the garden...apples and pears were stored in the loft...each piece of fruit wrapped in newspaper.

Cleaning stuff came from the Kleeneze man who called once a month...bread and cakes were made at home...

We had an ice-cream if we went to the sea-side...rice was only for a pudding with a dollop of home-made jam in the middle...olive oil came from the chemist in a little bottle and was warmed up and dropped into ears if you had an ear-ache. The fat from the beef was used for pastry making and roasting...the dripping went onto hot toast as a treat.

Pickles and chutneys were all made at home from garden vegetables...we had oranges at Christmas.

And here am I about to cook sweet red and yellow peppers and squash...parsnip liberally sprinkled with parmesan cheese and prawns for me and a chicken fillet for Himself...

22 Replies

  • Ahhhh,it sounds as though our parents did the same type of shopping I remember it all so, I remember my Mum making brawn,it looked awful,

    When I first married 1961 I remember going to different shops for my weekly shop, I had an order book which I gave in at the grocery store,two days later my weekly shopping was delivered.

  • Ohhh yum, you've just made me feel hungry again, how far from Dublin are you ;) Himself is a lucky man! Huff xxx

  • I do love your stories Vashti. Having been born in 1960 the high street that you describe isn't quite as I remember it. In Preston Road, in Wembley, we had a small supermarket and a Woolworths as well as the many small shops. I lived with my grandmother and mother in a flat on top of 2 shops. My grandmother would buy frozen fish and frozen vegetables from the supermarket and we considered her ahead of the times. Everything else was bought from the small shops. So I remember the cheese being cut from a slab, the butcher giving the children slices of salami and choosing fruit and veg at the green grocers. Thanks Vashti for re-awakening my memories.

    Kind Regards


  • Mother didn't have a 'fridge...she just put the food in the pantry...!

  • Super sounds very tasty, Bulpit

  • Ahhh...they were the days Vashti...if only we could go back in time. :-)

  • I was born in 1934 and my earliest memories of food shopping was with my mother, going from butcher to butcher to find the best deal - was I bored! We shopped in Woolwich London then and the market was where all the fruit and veg was bought. At the end of the day you could ferret through the discarded fruit etc. and take what you wanted. of course the war had started by this time and ration books determined what you could have. We were registered at the local co-op in Plumstead and all the groceries in tiny amounts were bought there. You collected the tin money and saved it to the end of the year. I remember counting them all out to take to the office where you were credited with their value. A bit like saving stamps only these were tin coins.

    Our milk was delivered by horse drawn cart, loved that horse. No cream of course. Just one kind of milk too. Sweets were rationed, a halfpenny chew if I was very lucky.

    so many memories, might get boring! Iris x

  • I've never heard of 'tin' money before....

  • Token gives a good description of how it worked. As a child I enjoyed adding up all the different tin checks and was fascinated to see how the cashiers counted them out like lightening.

  • Thank you Lyd...

  • Hi Lyd. We often stayed with an Aunt in Woolwich in the 40's and used to go on the Plumstead ferry. Do you remember that? I also recall that the "winkle man" used to come round the streets on a Sunday afternoon and we had winkles for tea! XX

  • I certainly do remember the Woolwich ferry, the nearest we got to a day out! Loved to watch the engine parts moving (there's probably a proper name for that!) and the river white horses. We took sandwiches and went to the park on the other side. My dad often brought home shrimps and winkles after his visit to the pub. made sandwiches with winkles, my job to shell them with a pin.

    Just read your joke about the password. laughed til I cried, haven't done that for a long time. thanks.

  • Glad you liked it lyd. Funny, you don't see many people eating winkles anymore - only maybe at the seaside?

  • winkles didn't have a nice smell, as I remember . We often went to the Odeon or Granada cinemas, queuing up in the rain for the 1/9s !

    the Odeon was grand, Art Deco style and wide staircase all carpeted walls lined with large photographs of glamorous film stars.

  • Winkles look a bit funny actually...

  • Ah memories Vashti. There may have been less choice in the shops, but we were healthy and fed. There's too much choice and fast food nowadays, full of preservatives and other rubbish. My Grandson is horrified if I scrape the mould from cheese and then use it, or even dream of looking at something that's passed its "sell by" date (whatever that means?) Lol.

  • We always scrape the mould off cheese...and off the top of homemade jam!

  • I used to go with mom (her hair in rollers with a scarf on top) on a Saturday morning to Wrensons and Masons both grocery stores just a few shops away from each other, she new exactly which shop had the cheapest of any product ,the man in Masons used to give all the children a jelly sweet (we never had sweets).

    Did any else have sheep's brain sandwiches they were lovely.

    polly xx

  • Can't think of anything more revolting than sheep's brain

  • Ah, the "Good Old Days" again, when old ladies in caps and shawls would sit at the counter (yes, they actually provided seats for customers) and run a sixpence down the side of a huge slab of butter and taste to see if they liked it - if not they'd move on to another. This is why we have an ageing population, and the Queen has to employ help to congratulate centenarians - it's not going to be a long-term problem. Those who are 100 this year have lived through best part of WW1, Spanish 'flu, the worst depression in history, WW2 in which they either served or bomb-dodged. All this without the benefit of immunisations, apart from a small-pox vaccination with its life-long scar, so they survived all the childhood ailments with just a strong immune system - bolstered by a lamentable lack of personal hygeine, one bath-night a week whether you needed it or not! They were never allowed allergies - if something "didn't agree with them" they just avoided it. No NHS. Doctors charged half-a-crown a visit (for which price patients were treated like royalty) so home remedies were the first option and when free medicine was available at last, many still chose the old tried and true. Make the most of these hardy souls, treat them with honour and respect for I believe we will not see their like again. Later generations have been coddled, protected, bombarded with spurious health advice which is valid this year and rubbished the next, given counselling for every happening that might leave a bruise on their psyche - in other words brainwashed into thinking they need a great deal more than they actually do to survive. The downside was that mortality rates were far higher in the good old days, especially among children, those still surviving must be the cream of the gene pool!

  • Absolutely brilliant comment...this was wonderful to read...thank you Dragonmum...xxxx

  • Vashti, Tesco was once a small, miserable looking corner shop in Birkenhead where I taught French in a boys school. I found some Kiwi shoe polish in there!

    I wasn't the massive entreprise which it is now with bosses saying they have a downfall of a few million pound! Gosh if I had that I would buy ... well what would I buy for that.

    ? ah well I shall keep playing teh flute and chop my garlic into little bits. Sainsbury did me a favour, I had ordered choppe garlic in a little glass jar. They didn't have any, so they send my some true garlic you have to chop yourself! Not a bad idea! Then I'll fry my diced turkey and put some chopped ginger in. Yes, I have a good little chopping knife from the Swiss firm Kuhne, very sharp and very yellow! Have a lovely meal!

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