Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Foodie memories

Not quite sure about the 'foodie' bit. ...Was discussing Katharine Whitehorn with my friend Pat, and we discovered that we had both written to her in response to an article in the Observer about supercilious social security officers (which we both were at the time), explaining to her the realities of the job - such as working late to stop someone's electricity getting cut off....

My first 'meeting' with Whitehorn was in late 1977 when I moved into a bedsit (a dreadful place in Englefield Green; a house formerly belonging to Sir Donald Tovey - it had a stave with a note as a weather vane, but had since been bought over by an avaricious landlord who like to pack them in tight. The rent was £12 per week for a room with shared bathroom; quite a bit out of my £30 a week net pay). I needed to cook, and not having learnt to cook in my childhood, other than opening packets of this and that, I bought her book 'Cooking in a bedsitter'. It was great! I wish I could remember recipes from it...It was particularly good at 'everything in one saucepan' type of recipes which were nutricious and of course cheap. Students only ever had one ring for cooking. For me this went on for a long time, and for part of his early life my son thrived on food cooked on a £5 Baby Belling (two rings worked at any one time) which I had picked up at an auction and restored for another £2. I see amazon sell this book used for £3.98. Not sure about the hygiene aspects of buying a used cookery book...

This article mentions a number of student cookbooks. I also had Jocasta Innes' 'Pauper's Cookbook' because I sure was a pauper for a long time. Delia's 'Frugal Food' also rings a bell, though I do not remember finding it particularly useful. And there were a whole range of other cheap and healthy cookbook, including an American one, which of course used 'cups' as measuring units - but it had recipes for the most delicious biscuits involving oats and raisins (surely not nuts, too - I could not have afforded them) - when I still made biscuits.

These were great cookery books, with lots of tricks for stretching food - like adding oats or beans to mince; bean or lentil anything was recommended as very nourishing (though not in a bedsit, they stink out the place). Unfortunately I lost that collection when I moved house and left them behind by accident - by the time I noticed it, the next tenant had thrown them out. The fact that the cat had had an accident over some of them at some stage probably did not help either. Now, who was talking about the hygiene aspects of used cookery books?