I stand gently leaning on my walking frame, with my rheumy eyes, and a mirror in my hand, I look first at the world and then I look at myself, and I wonder who’s the daftest. I wonder if we’re worse than the Frogs, the Huns, the Yanks, or those kind and selfless people who are coming all the way across Europe to help us, because we are unable to help ourselves any more. Just supposing the UK was the only nation on the globe, and the rest was all water, would we have ever reached the situation we are in today of falling apart because we appear to have insufficient labour to do the dirty jobs – ‘really darling, that job is beyond me!’. You know there’s nothing selective about having to do dirty things, when I was an engineer, with more letters after my name than you could shake a stick at, I still went up sewers, up to my waist in unmentionables, into covered sewage tanks, surrounded by the most awful smells, it was my job, I felt no degradation from having to do it. I really do think that we are an absolutely crazy and snobbish crowd. Let me give you another example of why.
When I was young my Gran used to make Scotch eggs, by wrapping fresh hard-boiled eggs in lovely pork sausage meat, coated in several coats of egg and breadcrumbs and then fried the whole lot in deep fat. Sophie made the same thing many years ago, for me and the kids. There was a fight for who had last bites. About a year ago I was in Tesco’s, I bought one for old times sake from the cold meat counter. When I got home I was firmly convinced, on my first bite, that the sausage meat was in fact reconstituted cardboard, and found the egg was actually detach from and roaming about inside the ball. Two days ago I was in Sainsbury’s, and I thought well this firm will probably be better – if anything they were worse, the egg was about the size of a Banty’s, roaming around like a lost soul in this huge void of brown coated cardboard. The question I ask is, what is happening to
us as a generation or indeed a nation, when they can actually put rubbish like that on the counter and expect to sell it? It occurred to me, they are made on an assembly line, with the cardboard shell in two halves, one half ran along until an egg was dropped in and then the other half was dropped on top and they were stuck together somehow – a million miles from the real thing.
So my thoughts naturally turned to the type of food that we are beginning to become accustomed to and think is the norm, because so many of us now have either neither the time, the skill, or the inclination, to cook good quality food in the old-fashioned way. Instead we get fobbed off with poor imitations of peasant foods, from all the nations in the world, not as they cooked them, but what the manufacturers think the suckers will buy. The fact that hardly a day goes by and there are at least three cooking programmes, and a few food programmes on television, means that we are still interested in the process, but rather than make wholesome food, we buy what other people think they can get away with. I am a very fortunate person in that my whole family are good cooks and in consequence we eat well and are well. It is time that people stop kidding themselves that they ‘get what it says on the tin’, to misquote an ad.
I suspect that part of the reason is that they have stopped teaching cookery in school, instead they choose to teach French, pronounced with English regional accents as the teachers are not trained language teachers, and the children will never use as long as they live, because it will have been forgotten by the time they finally reach the French coast.