Written exclusively by Polly Russell, BBC food historian and mum, for Female First
The Office for National Statistics recently released their latest update on the UK’s shopping baskets, revealing that quiches, prepared mash potato and pastry-based savoury snacks were all in favour with Brits in 2018. Even more suprising, the 1970s dinner party staple, the fondue, is apparently back in fashion.
All these take me straight back to my childhood – they are familiar, comforting foods which evoke fond memories. At a time when we’re all working longer hours, juggling multiple commitments and find ourselves in a world of social and political upheaval, taking refuge in food related childhood memories can be a terrific comfort. Tastes and smells, more than any other senses, can transport us back in time. For me it’s my mum’s Quiche Lorraine, at the time the height of sophistication, which transports me back to my childhood kitchen. I regularly make a version of it for my own family and when I do I feel like I’m connecting the present with the past.
In fact that’s what so much of cooking is about: taking familiar favourites from our pasts and bringing them up to date with modern, nutritious twists. In my kitchen my mum’s quiche Lorraine is transported to 2018 with the addition of kale, broccoli or chard in a nod towards five-a-day.
Nostalgia aside, another reason these foods remain popular is because they’re quick and easy to prepare - the holy grail for busy parents. It’s no coincidence they first became popular in the 1970s and 1980s when the numbers of working women increased. Juggling home with work required easy family meals. Nothing has changed on this front and with families busier than ever, it’s no surprise these meal solutions are finding favour with today’s mums and dads.
So let’s embrace the retro food trend, rediscover some long forgotten classics and add some modern twists! Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:
Prawn Cocktail –delicious, perfect for summer and so easy to prepare. Make with a mix of greek yoghurt and mayo for a lighter option and add some fresh coriander and lime for a contemporary taste
Heinz Salad Cream– another delicious taste that is lower fat than mayonnaise and will take you straight back to the past. Recreate a classic English salad with radishes, hardboiled egg, cucumber and spring onions or enjoy a salad cream and fishfinger sandwich.
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