Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Tastes change

I had what you might call unusual complementary eating and drinking habits as a child.

Well let's face it, with my mother's "boot and boil" approach to cooking, I had to supplement my diet somehow.

Don't get me wrong, I ate heartily enough. I had to. Otherwise I would be reminded of the starving children elsewhere in the world and how much better off I was.

But mealtimes weren't particularly enjoyable, and realising that she was no Mrs Beeton, my mother would allow me the occasional treat.

It might have been, for example, a cream doughnut from the Upper Crust bakery in the high street or a bowl of Ambrosia rice pudding (sure my mother made her own, but the tinned version tasted so much better).

Spaghetti hoops or baked beans -  once again straight from the can of course, were other favourites

Sometimes I would be permitted  a packet of salt and vinegar crisps and a Curly Wurly for the Saturday matinee performances at the local cinema.

While those goodies weren't so unusual, the little extras which I willingly consumed on a daily basis, certainly were - at least with hindsight.

Cod liver oil, for example - a spoonful a day, no problem

A glass of Andrews liver salts was my fizzy drink.

Haliborange vitamins, even though I didn't really need them, were my real "sweets".

But the icing on the cake (forgive the feeble idiom) and the product that helped me through childhood mealtimes was Heinz salad cream.

I loved the stuff. I would smother my chips with it or happily dip any (that means "all") overdone meat and veg in the small serving I was allowed sometimes to accompany my meals.

And then there were the sandwiches - with or without any other filling. Pure heaven!

By the time I started college, I had more or less kicked the habit. But from time to time I would indulge myself with what my housemates called a "disgusting Summerton special" - Dairylea cheese, stick-to-the-palate Mother's Pride bread and lashings of salad cream.

That was then. And now is...well, now.

Having spent the best part of two decades living outside of the UK, I haven't really felt the urge to revisit childhood habits (well, I think the cod liver oil probably speaks for itself) or those that lasted a little longer.

Over time I've either forgotten about cravings or found replacements.

Oh yes, and I like to think (pompously) that my tastes have become more "refined".

I know all those products are available at specialist shops, some supermarkets and yes, can be bought over the Net.

But for better or for worse, I've moved on.

Or at least I thought I had.

Because the other day while wandering the aisles of Leclerc and stopping at the produits du monde section for soya sauce and tofu (you see how "sophisticated" I've become), a long-lost and much-loved sight caught my eye...a bottle of Heinz salad cream.

It beckoned to me and I couldn't resist. The child (and young adult) in me remembering, and into the trolley it went.

Back home for lunch, there was no difficulty in deciding what I would prepare myself. An updated "disgusting Summerton special": Comté cheese, baguette and a copious helping of salad cream.

I couldn't wait, breaking open the bottle and dolloping the stuff on to my haute cuisine meal.

And that first mouthful...

It was totally and utterly...


It wasn't the cheese.

It wasn't the baguette.

It was the Heinz salad cream. I simply didn't like the taste any longer.

What had been such a fond childhood memory was just that. A memory.

The "pourable sunshine" is headed for the bin.


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