Tuesday, June 16, 2009

storms and 80s food

Current work: revisions on fairground book
Listening to: Kate Rusby
Reading: next on TBR

Amazing storms yesterday evening – went on ALL evening, so that nixed work time. We watched them as a family, including the dog, and the kids were enjoying counting the seconds between the flash and the bang to see how far away the storm was… until there wasn’t a gap. That spooked them a little, bless.

By the time the thunder had stopped and it was safe to switch on the PC again (I have a surge protector, but I’m paranoid as I happen to know three people whose computers have fried in a storm), it was too late to work, so I was a bit self-indulgent and watched the Supersize programme about the food of the 80s.

This was the decade of my teens/very early 20s, so I remember the trends. They did skip around an awful lot rather than presenting it sequentially through time, but it was fascinating to see how much I remembered. All the different sorts of mineral water (but they missed out the ‘flavoured’ ones such as Sao Rico and Aqua Libra, both of which I loved… or maybe that was early 90s). Double espressos (I shudder when I think how much coffee I used to drink – heart attack city. Nowadays it’s likely to be a skinny latte, maybe once a week if I’m out). Nouvelle cuisine (pretty, but definitely not substantial enough). The rise of the foodie (oooh, now I’m very guilty there, but I really do enjoy experimenting and cooking).

And then there was the processed stuff. Sure, everyone ate microwaved meals at some point, but in general I cooked from scratch – always have done. It doesn’t exactly take a long time to prepare beef in red wine, jacket potatoes and steamed veg. (Maybe I should write a low-maintenance cookery book. Cooking for people who hate spending time in the kitchen. Nope, wouldn’t work, because the kitchen is the heart of my house.)

DH used to like Pot Noodles (WHY? They were so vile – they smelled horrible and they tasted worse). He wouldn’t admit it last night but I suspect he liked Ice Magic, the gloopy chocolate stuff that set hard when it hit the ice cream. (And urrrgh, ice cream that tasted of powder. OK, foodie tendencies out here: we made our own or bought the posh stuff. I am desperate for one of those really posh ice cream makers, but I know how bad I’d be with it.) And Pop Tarts… never tried them because they sounded vile. Potato waffles for breakfast? Eh? Don’t know anyone who did that. (Feel free to confess here…)

I definitely remember 80s dinner parties (that’d be late 80s, after I graduated and when we had our first house – umm, they would’ve been quite foodie, too). And drinking way too much wine. Hilarious to see that Pinot Grigio was trendy back then – I still like it. And Chablis. Oaky chardonnay (ick). Hmm - wasn’t that when Aussie wine made it big over here? But I never, EVER did wine boxes. Didn’t do the cocktail thing either (though I did add Kahlua or Tia Maria to coffee – ohh, how could they forget floater coffees? I had some really posh glasses especially for liqueur coffees). I also remember Archer’s Peach Schnapps being trendy. Don’t think I’d touch it now – too sweet, and post-kids I’m an utter lightweight when it comes to alcohol. Two glasses, and it’s hangover city.

They mentioned ciabatta bread (one of my favourites but I read labels now and it presses too many buttons). And then there was garlic bread. In my second and third year at uni, I was in self-catering accommodation. Someone was always cooking garlic bread (often me, I admit – I’d go to the cinema with my best mates on Mondays and we’d eat at mine either before or after, depending on the time of the film).

Eating out. The programme concentrated on yuppie restaurants. As a student, that kind of stuff was way beyond my means. I remember that Pizzaland was a big treat. And obviously Leicester had wonderful curry houses, so that opened my eyes to a whole new area of food.

They barely touched sweets/candy in the programme, with the exception of Opal Fruits. Matchmakers used to be quite trendy, but I have to confess that this was when I discovered Thornton’s Viennese truffles. And Lindt selection boxes. (DH liked Milk Tray – though he used to remove the hazelnut whirls from a box and scoff them before giving the box to the recipient, i.e. his mother or me. He has better manners now.) I remember that chocolates used to come in really pretty boxes you could re-use…

So what are your big food/drink memories from the 80s?


Nicolette said...

Screwball ice-creams with the ball of bubble gum at the bottom. Hmm, have to confess to loving Ice Magic! My mum used to make her own prawn cocktails and thought they were the height of sophistication!

Diane said...

Okay, I WANT the low maintenance cookery book. Yes I do, I really, really do. Nothing fancy, though. Just plain, simple, everyday, substantial, nourishing meals that don't take 3 weeks to prepare.

When's the next gap in your non-fiction programme? I think we just filled it. :o) <--- charming, sweet smile.

All I can remember specifically from the 80s was the rise of the fad diet - they might have been around before, but I remember everyone at college surviving on 2 biscuits for 3 meals a day, flavoured shakes (same principle), and so on. Only they didn't survive. They kept passing out. :-/

Michelle Styles said...

The one thing I really remember is how little fresh food there was. And when I first moved over how I was laughed at for asking for fresh coriander!
Pumpkin was sold in slices for some reason...
A lot of US food was starting to come over. I can remember looking hard for peanut butter. M&Ms were mid 80s over in the UK. And I was SO v glad when cranberry juice first came over.
Also how glad I was of Tescos and its late night opening. Before that, supermarkets in Newcastle closed early.
POtato waffles (pressed potatoes) are v Little Chef.
And the ice cream over in the UK was brown, pink or white. It was shocking!

Nell Dixon said...

I watched it with Mr Nell, so many happy memories, we worked hard and played hard. Grolsch lager - the toasted sandwich didn't get a mention and everyone had one of those. Sara Lee gateaux became popular too. Didn't have any of the cocktails they mentioned - around here it was stuff like Sex on the beach and strange blue drinks that involved vodka or cherry B. It was nice to see Norman Tebbit looking well.

Anonymous said...

We missed out on the storms for some reason - lovely hot sunny weather last evening.
I watched that programme - Sloane Rangers. That 'Diana' blow dried Hairstyle and pie crust blouses...LOL.
Yup. Remember the strange cocktails at many a new year party involving blue curacoa and grenadine/martini etc.
One of my colleagues was american and refused to eat breakfast apart from pop tarts.
There has been a bit of a come back for prawn cocktail and black forest gateau - the real stuff.
On Saturday evening we had an Indian restaurant meal and the freebie at the end was ... sweet peach schnapps.

Shirley Wells said...

Yup, I want the low maintenance cookery book too.

I always wondered who bought Pot Noodles. Now I know. :o)

Kate Hardy said...

Nicolette - they still do screwballs, but not with the bubble gum any more.

Oh yes, prawn cocktails. Now, served on a bed of Lollo Rosso or in the hollow of an avocado?

Kate Hardy said...

Diane - LOL.

Fad diets - there was the F plan (bet that did wonders for sales of All Bran), and the G plan. And weightwatchers. Ick. I did WW in the 80s. (Here I am, 20 years later... still rotund.)

Kate Hardy said...

Michelle - I remember Whole Earth peanut butter (that was my staple in my first year at uni - granary bread and peanut butter, because it was cheap and filled me up and was better than hall of residence food - my house had a mini baby belling oven and not even a toaster!)

And ice cream here... it was vile. Oh, hang on - Ranieri ice cream was the mid to late 80s. There was a Fruits of the Forest and a scrummy Tiramisu one. (I want that ice cream maker. Michelle, talk me out of it. I'd be so bad.)

Kate Hardy said...

Nell - ooh yes, the Breville thingy. I had one with interchangeable plates so I could do chargrilled chicken and also make my own proper waffles.

And the strange blue drinks. Yes. Am glad during my barmaid stints everyone wanted relatively normal things, except the one guy who drank creme de menthe because he thought it made him look cool. (Er, no...)

Kate Hardy said...

Nina - are you confessing to having a Diana haircut? (If it makes you feel better, I did. And I had a lovely pale raspberry shirt from Next with a pie collar. Wore that to my interview *cough* for being a trainee accountant *cough*)

I do remember a wonderful dessert involving Drambuie, cream and raspberries. I wouldn't dare make it now. Even thinking of the sat fat content makes me hyperventilate.

Not to mention Delia's chocolate bread and butter pudding. (I admit, that was mid 90s, because I remember eating it cold for breakfast. Pregnancy craving.)

Kate Hardy said...

Shirley - go and look on my website. All really low-maintenance stuff. (Mrs P is a bit fussy re veg, so she'll reject most of it.)

The cookies take 5 mins to make and 12 mins to cook (you don't really have to refrigerate it). And the beef in red wine is sooo low-maintenance, it's untrue.

Considering how easy ordinary noodles and stirfry veg is... I do NOT get Pot Noodles!

Jill said...

Oh my gosh, I ate Pop Tarts in college specifically b/c I wasn't allowed to eat them growing up.
Pop Tarts and a large cup of coffee were the ideal breakfast back then.
My 80s food memories consist of lovely Italian food (living in Naples at the time) and ham and cheese microwaved Hot Pockets which my mom put in my lunch and I detest to this day.

Brigitte said...

Ice cream makers are not so bad, Kate. I have one and I use it all summer. You don't need to use cream or worse, double cream.
You can indulge in yogurt ice cream, plain or add fruit. Strawberry and banana work well. Either use greek yogurt (yummy) or plain low fat. They taste better than the bought variety and they are quite heathy.
Once in the deep freeze compartment they take longer to soften so you'll have to wait some to scoop. That's because they have less fat contents.

Kate Hardy said...

Jill - how COOL to live in Naples in the 80s. (Ice cream. Proper pizza. More ice cream. Those lovely little pastries. More ice cream...)

(Sorry. Having an ice cream moment, there.)

But are Pop Tarts edible? They looked pretty cardboardy on TV.

Kate Hardy said...

Brigitte - that sounds lovely. I was thinking plain yoghurt with raspberries and nectarines...

Is your machine one of the ones where you have to freeze the bowl first? (My freezer's always pretty full so that would be an issue for me - the one I had my eye on last summer, until DH talked me out of it, was one where you didn't have to freeze the bowl - just put a bit of alcohol between the bowls and it did everything else for you.)

Brigitte said...

No, I don't need to freeze the bowl first.The bowl is part of the machine, like a mixing bowl.
But I need to freeze an item that looks pretty much like a thick frisbee. Once it is frozen (about 24 hrs) you pop it into the bowl, put the lid on,switch the machine on and pour your mix through an opening in the lid.
The mix comes into contact with the frozen frisbee in the bottom of the bowl and cools gradually. This item is much smaller than the bowl and I'm sure you can squish it in somewhere in your freezer!!
Bon appétit.

Jill said...

Hah, no Pop Tarts are not that tasty. Overly sweet to me now. I'll eat them when I'm starving, but at the time it was more the lure of forbidden fruit.