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 had no idea how to 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 cookery room. A gas oven blew up, setting fire to my hair and eyelashes but we carried on cooking, after I’d removed clumps of burnt hair and 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 housecraft teachers dressed. In the classroom, I morphed into a pink nylon overall which was usually accompanied by pink 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 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 supposedly popular with sick people, awful offal and an endless stream of different methods of cake making. In the middle of the exam we had to launder shirts, starch napkins and clean football boots.
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 those times, I’ve written many textbooks for secondary schools and GCSE with over 60 titles which sell around the world, you can find some on this link.
2015 -The book will be – I’ve researched puzzling questions from the 1970s- when did schools stopped caning, why teachers agreed to have free school meals for dinner time supervision, when did we start wearing maxi skirts and kipper ties for men, when did chicken get eaten in bigger quantities, 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.