God Bless You Ma’am!
The Diamond Jubilee is a time to celebrate the Queen’s 60 years on the throne – and 60 fantastic years of progress in British food and catering.
By 1952 the country was desperate to escape wartime austerity and the new young Monarch symbolised a fresh start, a new dawn in so many ways.
In that year perhaps the most famous of English drinks – Tea – ceased to be rationed, though it took another year before sugar could be added without needing coupons.
Cheese and meat only returned to free sale in 1954 – allowing the culinary frustrations of a whole nation to finally be released.
The very name ‘Elizabeth Windsor’ perfectly captures two sides of the coin when it comes to British food in the 1950s.
The Edwardian era of drab, dull, over-cooked ‘grub’, was condensed in one dish mocked at home and abroad – Brown Windsor Soup. Left-over meats were boiled with root vegetables and sieved to produce a hearty bowl of glorified gravy. Done well, it can be delicious but, infamous for being done badly, it lurked on restaurant menus like a disapproving grandparent until the 1980s and even appeared on TV’s Fawlty Towers for comic effect.
But the explosion of new food which has engulfed the last six decades began in 1950 with the publication of Elizabeth David’s Mediterranean Food. Exotics such as courgettes, peppers, olives and anchovies began their march on our national tastebuds. Then spices, noodles and rices swept in from the mysterious East.
And now we can rightly rejoice as being home to the widest range of food available in the world. Even if some still apologise with the classic “Sorry, I’ve been eating garlic!”