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Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Do you recall how a salad looked and tasted in the 1960s?

My personal memory of salads at our working class home in Chaddesden on the outskirts of Derby in the 60s and 70s  is they may have been simple compared with what we eat today but they were darned tasty! Very little of the products came from a supermarket too.

Mr Disney the sweet old chap neighbour with his greenhouse chock full of tomatoes in the background.

Me aged ten by my Dad's cold frame.

A typical salad would have been composed of Coss lettuce, home-grown (donated by a kindly neighbour - Mr Disney)  deliciously fragrant on the vine tomatoes, home grown spring onions, home grown cress, cucumber slices and some crunchy sticks of celery to dip into a pile of salt or dollop of unctuous sexy salad cream. I have tried to recreate below how this aspect looked using products purchased yesterday from the village greengrocer in Ruddington.

We would also have had radishes - yes - once again a home grown food - and beetroot that we purchased most probably in a jar. In reality there wouldn't have been so much vegetable matter on our plates but there were other ingredients to a typical salad of that period. I will come to those in a second.

Vintage lovers would love the kind of gadget my mother would use to slice cold pre-boiled eggs to add to the salad. My sisters and my brother also used to play with it as a kind of kitchen harp twanging the wires with a strange kind of pleasure gained in the noise they made.

A salad wouldn't have been a salad without cold sliced egg. Any accompanying cold cooked meats would have likely been ox tongue in aspic, or some shiny looking cooked ham or if the family was feeling wealthy some ham off the bone. Both of these would have been purchased from the local butcher at Top Shops at the top of Perth Street in Chaddesden. The Co-Operative store had a butchers and fishmongers slab too! A Melton Mowbray pork pie with the salad would have meant it was Sunday evening as this was a real treat. My Dad particularly enjoyed screwing his eyes up whilst crunching on pickled onions.  Maybe if it was summer and we had some cold chicken left over from the Sunday roast the remnants could have been another meat option to have with a salad.

A nice crusty pork pie with plenty of jelly inside.

Tinned pink salmon or tinned sardines in tomato sauce would sometimes be included in our salads if we were feeling particularly exotic.

The varieties of cheese available in the UK in the 1960s and 1970s wasn't anything like what we enjoy today and so our salad options would have been fairly limited. I recall having Lancashire and Gloucester cheese as well as a honey coloured Derby cheese and a mild and flaky Leicester cheese, Cheshire and Cheddar cheeses. My Dad Bob delighted in stinking the house out with 'Old Socks Cheese' that was probably either Stilton of Blue Cheshire. It might also have been one of the imported cheeses like a Danish Blue. White sliced Hovis  bread and butter was always a filler if the salad hadn't been enough to gorge on.

Mum and Dad still gardening in the 1980s.

To accompany the salad it had to be Heinz Salad Cream and maybe some bright yellow Piccalilli or crunchy brown 'Bring Out The Branston' Branston original pickle. There were no salad dressings as there are today and olive oil was only to be got at the chemist for use with earache.  Happy days. Sometimes we would even take a salad picnic out on to our back lawn to eat Al Fresco. Radical!

The modern salad plateful of accompaniments would have seemed very alien to our 1960s taste buds unless you happened to be Elizabeth David the woman who almost single handedly introduced Mediterranean foods into the 'often stuck in the mud' British cuisine of the time.

If you have any fond memories of 1960s salads at your homes please do leave a comment.

Phil Lowe


Karenjane said...

Our salads were similar to yours, & were one of the few things I enjoyed (I was a notoriously fussy eater until I was in my late teens). I remember cucumber sliced very thinly & soaked in malt vinegar too....scrumptious, & something I love today. My Mum used to cut the radishes into roses, & leave them in cold water to open up, & she always made water lily shapes with tomatoes - simply cutting a zigzag horizontally around them. Ah, Happy Days.

philip lowe said...

I remember a very short period of cooking lessons at my Secondary Modern School where us young men (teenagers) we encouraged to cook. Normally it would be girl's stuff. We did... yep you better believe it... beans on toast,other things with puff pastry and home- made sausage rolls and (big drum roll) made zigzag tomatoes as a decoration! Wow! Doing those diagonal cuts has probably got me to where I am

Loved your comment. x

philip lowe said...

were encouraged to cook

Jean said...

Our salads in the 50's and 60's were exactly like yours, all home grown ,unless the lettuce had all gone and Mum would buy one, very grudgingly! We rarely had salad in the winter, simply because it would have to be made from expensive stuff from the greengrocer's van that came round the village on a Friday teatime, except as a treat at Christmas. Those were the days.......only eating food that was in season....
We also never had a salad without the accompaniment of a dish of sliced cucumber and onion in vinegar. And, absolutely without fail, a plate of bread and butter! If we were lucky it would be Hovis brown bread!
In fact, one of my favourite sandwiches to this day is a simple lettuce and tomato sandwich on Hovis brown, with just the slightest smear of salad cream as well as plenty of real butter.
Hope you're keeping well. X