In 1970 I started teaching cooking to boys and girls in London comprehensive schools. I knew a lot about nutrition and the chemistry of food, but couldn’t cook. My first bread lesson was a disaster. Balls of dough went into the oven and hard lumps came out which the boys threw at each other when they left the room. A gas oven blew up, setting fire to my hair and eyelashes but the class kept cooking, after I’d removed clumps of burnt hair and bits of melted nylon overall.
My fashion choice of short miniskirts, thigh length boots and occasional false eyelashes, was a challenge to the conservative way that most cooking teachers dressed. In the classroom, I morphed into a pink nylon overall which was usually accompanied by yellow rubber gloves.
As London richoted with new fashions, pop groups and the arrival of exotic fruits and vegetables, I was trapped in a time warp teaching cooking and housecraft from a lost age. To get my students through CSE and O level, they had to learn some really stupid, pointless things. Invalid cooking where they made slimy junket which was recommended for sick people, awful offal where we stuffed lamb’s hearts and an endless stream of different methods of cake and pastry making. In the middle of the housecraft exam they had to launder shirts, starch napkins and clean football boots – not popular with burly teenage boys!
I’m writing about that time with its massive change of food products and technology and how the young students with their young teacher learnt to cook. Since then I’ve written many school textbooks with over 70 titles which sell around the world. You can find some on this link.
2019 I’m researching puzzling questions from the 1970. When did schools stop caning boys? Why did teachers agree to have free school meals for lunch time supervision? When did we start wearing maxi skirts and kipper ties for men? When and why was chicken getting popular? What was the language of the 1970’s – did we say wow?
So 50,000 words written so far with recipes from the 1970s too. The blog keeps everyone up to date with my chapters so far.