I ate the 80s

Retro Food Week was a great success in our household!

My hubby and I have been on a nostalgic journey through childhood gastronomy.

Arctic Roll was a scrumptious throwback. It had been almost 30 years since I last bit into an Arctic Roll, and I am delighted to say time had not diminished its sweetness. I recalled how as a nipper I would always chomp the sponge first, then scrape the raspberry jam off the ice cream, then finally devour said vanilla ice cream at the centre of the wheel.

We enjoyed Alphabetti Spaghetti for breakfast one morning, childishly spelling out our names on the toast. It was pure baby food: soft, simple and tasty. I was transported straight back to lunchtimes watching Rainbow with a tray on my knee.

Neapolitan ice cream was another delight. Thankfully this tricoloured dessert comes in user-friendly tubs these days, as opposed to the impractical cardboard blocks that used to house it in the 80s. What was the point of those cardboard containers anyway? They would never fold back together properly, used to get all sticky, and the ice cream would slither out of them. Was there ever a receptacle more unsuited to its purpose?

Ice cream is pure comfort food to me. Mum would feed it to me when I suffered from sore throats as a tot – until my tonsils were whipped out at the age of four – and I remember its soothing qualities.

As with the Arctic Roll, I recalled a kiddie ritual I had forgotten all about: I used to eat the chocolate Neapolitan stripe first, then the vanilla, then my favourite, the strawberry. I had some peculiar foodie routines back then. I used to eat all my fish before my chips too.

My coq au vin (steady!) was absolutely delicious, if I say so myself, though I chickened (no pun intended) out of making a chocolate gateau for pudding and indulged in a frozen Tesco beauty.

These 80s dinners set us both reminiscing about Angel Delight, Fish & Chips crisps, Ice Magic, Walls Vienetta and the like. And what about Slush Puppies, those radioactively-coloured ice drinks inexplicably sold over the reception desks in leisure centres? A nice E number-laden beverage to quench the thirst after a swimming lesson. The raspberry flavour was blue, for some reason (never quite understood that).

So viva the 80s – the decade of garishly artificial colours, cod-French names, cod in sauce and inventive food that was just FUN, something often lacking from plates these days!


Remembering Malcolm and Brenda

I am proud to say that I am in print again!!

Well only a sentence this time, quoted in somebody else’s book, but it’s something!

Ben Francis, who runs this super fansite in celebration of the 80s sitcom Watching: http://www.watching-home.tv has published a book in tribute to the show, 25 Years of Watching.  Almost exactly a year ago, Ben contacted fans who had contributed to his guestbook, asking for quotes and memories of the show, with a view to them being included in his future publication.

The book is now out: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Watching-Ben-Francis/dp/1478272724 and a line from “Leigh from the West Midlands” (no surnames included, so you will have to take my word for it  that it’s me!) appears on page 115.

Retro Food Week

It’s Retro Food Week, folks!!  That’s not a national thing, it’s just in our house.  A silly scheme my hubby and I have come up with.  Because we can!  Because we’re Rock ’n‘(Arctic) Roll like that.

Our inspiration was a recent Hairy Bikers show (I love the Hairy Bikers – and, as an aside, their Mulligatawny soup recipe is something else), in which they paid homage to 1970s cuisine, cooking up classics such as Chicken Kiev and Beef Wellington with a modern twist.  It got me all nostalgic.

Although this was a 70s-themed episode, I vividly remember such menus in the 80s, particularly on our holidays in Guernsey and at Berni Inns.

For starters there was the inevitable agonising choice between prawn cocktail, melon balls, a wedge of grapefruit with a cherry on top, or fruit juice.  Fruit juice!!  What was that all about?  A tiny glass of orange, grapefruit or tomato juice presented on a saucer, not as a drink to accompany the meal but an hors d’oeuvre, a prelude to the steak au poivre (with onion rings!) or coq au vin.

While we’re on the subject, this was the era of pretentiously bestowing dishes with French names to make them appear exotic.  “Oh, it’s not a cake, it’s a gateau.  Not a stew, but boeuf bourgignonne.”  Nowadays we are cynical enough not to be blindly impressed by trumped-up foreign titles.

When I was a kid, my idea of a heavenly meal involved fish in sauce with croquette potatoes, followed by the aforementioned Arctic Roll.  Or maybe fish fingers, with Angel Delight for dessert.  A Saturday night treat for our family would be smoked kippers and lashings of bread and butter in front of The Generation Game.

Forming rude words out of Alphabetti Spaghetti whiled away a few hours too.  I loved spaghetti hoops on toast, and embarrassingly I was well into my teens before I twigged that spaghetti was pasta and not a tomato sauce-drenched invention that came out of a tin!

One thing I drew the line at was Cadbury’s Smash.  Whilst I enjoyed the humorous adverts, featuring Zippy-esque aliens, when I was a tot, I was never a fan of the product and am perfectly able to peel a potato and cook it for “20 of my minutes.”  Actually these days I tend to avoid ready meals and “convenience” foods in general.  I am a big fan of home cooking.

Having said that, on the shopping list this week are Neapolitan ice cream, fish fingers, spaghetti hoops and Arctic Roll (which these days is known as ice cream roll but it’s essentially the same product).  I shall also be rustling up prawn cocktail, coq au vin and chocolate gateau.

Bring on the 80s…