My flaky pastry rant for 1970s

One day I will never ever make rough puff, flaky and puff pastry again. It will be struck off by the exam boards when they realise it is a high fat waste of my student’s time. We might show videos about it as a piece of history. A nonsense done by daft cookery teachers in the 1970s and a bit of sticky fun shown on old TV shows. 

Cream horn tins bought in charity shop as piping bags.

One day a factory will make it and we can buy it in supermarkets ready made if we really want to cook with it. The cream horn tins will be thrown away. My students won’t know the meaning of mille feuille. Eccles cakes, sausage rolls and jam puffs will be bought in cake shops unless a future government puts a ban on them or labels them with big red sticker to show they are very high in fat. 

No more pastry made from lard or cheap fishy margarine from county supplies. No more struggling on hot summer days trying to get layers of fat in between layers of fatty pastry. No more scraping off sticky failures from my work surfaces. Lessons are too short to let the pasty chill down and rest and my fridge is stuffed with tubs of margarine and lard and a pint of milk for my tea break whenever that comes.

No more greasy baking trays for me to soak after school in the butler’s sink full of boiling water and caustic soda. No more fatty cooking that drips through the shelves of the oven, splatters the oven sides and glass doors and covers the oven with blobs of grease. My cookers need an industrial cleaning company to come in after these pastry lessons and remove the amount of grease that has accumulated from these wretched high fat pastry dishes. My after school hours are spent lying on the kitchen floor in my pink nylon overall with matching rubber gloves, scraping out layers of fat and scouring the trays at the bottom of the oven with endless Brillo pads to stop black smoke from billowing out when the ovens are lit. And there is a limit to the cleaning greasy oven punishments I can hand out to naughty students to help with this task! And no, the school cleaners do not want to do this job – it is not part of their role according to Jim the caretaker.

The exam has been renamed Food and Nutrition. We learn about healthy eating and cutting down on saturated fat. Fatty pastry lessons must stop.

Scoff by Pen Vogler

I used Pen Vogler’s book for research for the History section of my book. Why did we call the midday meal school dinner and why did we have dinner ladies? Yet my textbooks talked about packed lunch? It’s all to do with the great north-south divide and our class system. The working class had their main meal at midday and so called it dinner and the industrial revolution was happening in the north of the UK. To distinguish themselves from their workers, the upper classes had their main meal at night and called it dinner. As there was a long gap between their midday and evening meal, they invented Afternoon Tea which became increasingly elaborate. Read my piece on the Governor’s tea and see how many dishes I served. Two sorts of sandwiches, scones and jam, brandy snaps and butterfly cakes!