Jackie’s contribution to Shelly’s sixtieth birthday party catering this evening was a couple of platters of salad. This meant a late morning trip to Ringwood to buy the disposable plates and the more pleasantly disposable ingredients for the meal. And when in Ringwood at lunchtime it is now obligatory to visit the Bistro Aroma.
We did so. Jackie had up-market ham egg and chips, known as ‘gammon delight’, and coffee. My choice was faggots and tea. Although I don’t normally like tea, for most of my life I have drunk that beverage when in a cafe. This is because, until comparatively recently cafe coffee was always infinitely inferior to working men’s tea. In my youth there were no coffee machines and you were usually served milk-in-first instant granules if you didn’t take tea. Cafes do mostly serve good coffee now, but you can’t guarantee it, and anyway, old habits die hard.
Mum’s rissoles are the reason for my choice of faggots. These latter, mostly a Northern and Welsh delicacy, had not passed my lips before, but I thought they would be like our childhood post-weekend feast. They were, albeit rather softer in texture and somewhat lacking in the other Sunday roast left-overs that we may have found in our rissoles.
It is some years since we enjoyed Mum’s minced meat and onions treat, so I have downloaded this image from the internet. I am sure Mum’s were much more succulent.
Argentine economics of the 1950s changed British eating habits forever. My boyhood understanding of my mother’s explanation was that an outbreak of foot and mouth disease had reduced both supply of beef and willingness of importers to receive what there was. No doubt there were other, subsequent, factors. This put up the price, making it unaffordable for such as us. Until then chicken was the expensive meat, generally reserved as a Christmas speciality. This decade, however, saw the rise of the now frowned upon battery chicken farms. Beef became expensive and chicken cheap.
When I and the next two offspring were still young, Mum had, every Monday, used a hand mincer to grind up the left-over previous day’s joint, and make such as cottage or shepherd’s pie, depending on whether we had partaken of beef or lamb. You can’t really do that with fowl.
Only once did I ever visit chickens in their long rows of cages piled on top of each other. This was in Hugh Lowther’s farm in Cumbria’s roofless Lowther Castle (click here for post of 23rd November last year). The stench made one retch from a long way off. It is a relief to my conscience that we are back to free-range chickens.
I have Becky to thank for now being clever enough to be able to link readers to previous posts. She and Ian paid us a visit, having been to view a flat in Emsworth. One of my most staunch blog followers, Becky has always been determined enough to track back to earlier posts through the laborious method. Today, she showed me the trick. And wrote it down. Which was the most important bit. To have one’s daughter say: ‘What have you just done?’, indicating that whatever it was it wasn’t a good idea, is a most enlightening experience.
Jackie and I joined Shelly’s party for a couple of hours. It was an enjoyable event and we were sorry have to leave early. An excellent band and barbecue were provided, as were free drinks at the bar for the first hour. Many friends and relatives joined in the festivity. After a while the dancing began.