A few weeks ago I was doing some clearing out/ de-cluttering. I realised that quite a few of my recipe books were now looking extremely tatty. On flicking through them before throwing them out I started thinking about the food items which didn’t appear in them and definitely wouldn’t have been around in the 1950s! I will just say next that most of the foods I’m going to list here already existed somewhere in the world. They are not new, just new to us in Britain.
Reading about the history of food trends in Britain, the first wave of ‘foreign food’ cuisine was French which arrived in the late 1950s and continued to be popular through the 1960s and to the present. These trends are ones I’ve read about but I was unaware of them as a child. Fashions didn’t spread as quickly back then and the average person in Britain didn’t come across fancy restaurants or try out recipes from cookbooks like Elizabeth David’s 1950 publication A Book of Mediterranean Food.
An early copy. Still in print.
This famous book came at a time when many foods were still rationed and very few people went abroad on holiday. With the rise of Italian, Chinese and Indian eating places in the large cities in the 1950s and through to smaller towns over the next few decades, new foods began to filter down into normal households.
Food trends continue to ebb and flow, almost without us noticing. Here are some of the things I hadn’t even heard of even ten or fifteen years ago.
This is a traditional cheese from Cyprus but I can still remember the first time I came across it, not much more than ten years ago. I loved it then and still do!
I haven’t seen this here in my part of Yorkshire yet but I keep reading about it in magazines and online. It’s being particularly hailed as a meat substitute for vegetarians and vegans. I’ll report back when I eventually get to try it!
The raw jackfruit Cooked jackfruit
Suddenly this drink is everywhere! Ten years ago I had never heard of it now there isn’t a party, wedding, dinner party or hen do without it.
Another first taste memory. We were in France on holiday when I had my first panini (and I loved it) and now nearly every cafe has them on the menu. They’re a version of what we here call a toasted sandwich but with different bread and more adventurous fillings.
Panini Basic British toasted sandwich
Couscous, quinoa, freekeh
Where once we had rice, now we have a whole load of alternative grains and seeds to choose from. To date I have tried quinoa and couscous but not freekeh.
Pesto, balsamic vinegar, coconut oil, coconut milk,
This is an assortment of items which now feature in many of our kitchen cupboards and which were unheard of here until recent years.
Green tea and herbal teas
Tea used to mean a hot drink made from the leaves of the tea bush. Green tea has become very popular now and is also from the tea bush but it seems you can now call any hot infusion a tea. We see every sort of leaf, fruit, herb and spice presented as a tea, often in combinations of more than one.
Wholemeal, wholegrain, gluten free, decaffeinated, ‘Free From’, vegan, vegetarian, meat free, additive free, sugar free, low fat, fat free. These labels are everywhere now and SO helpful when you have specific requirements in your food shopping, whether from preference or for medical and dietary reasons. Back in the 1950s, with rationing just coming to an end, food was food. Be grateful, like it or lump it was the attitude. How things change!