A Thin Slice of my History
When I was growing up, Sunday tea-time was usually a salad. If I was lucky, the protein element would be a slice of corned beef from a tin, or less fortunately, a slice of Luncheon Meat (also from a tin). High Days and Holidays might yield some Ham from one of those triangular cans but on a really bad day, it might be Sardines or Pilchards or Crab – yes, every one of them from a can. With the latter three, I chose to go hungry rather than eat them. They still revolt me, though canned Tuna is something that I actually enjoy – I don’t remember having it on a plate as a child, though it might appear in picnic sandwiches.
Whatever it was that we had with our salad, the salad itself rarely varied from the standard 1950s formula of:
- a limp lettuce leaf
- half a tomato
- a cucumber slice or three
- a spring onion
- a slice or three of hard-boiled egg
Salad Cream was of course de rigueur and came from Heinz, never from Cross and Blackwell. If we were fortunate enough to be eating at Auntie Hilda’s, there would be some potato crisps as well (quite a treat! though not as great a treat as the thickly-buttered fresh teacakes that came after.)
One item that often appeared on the table with our salad was a dish of pickled cucumber and onion. Nothing fancy, no spices or even sugar, just thinly-sliced cucumber and onions, steeped in Malt Vinegar, It made many substandard protein items edible by virtue of completely masking their flavour.
Later in life, when I left home and started working life in Middlesbrough (1971), the canteen would serve up a similar condiment but with tomatoes included. I enjoyed this variation, especially when they brought it out to accompany Scotch Egg and Chips (Salad Cream remained available!)
I don’t know if this is a strictly Yorkshire thing but I don’t recall ever meeting the dish of cucumber, onions and vinegar anywhere else on my travels. Clearly it was a thing in the West Riding, and in the North Riding, and Mr L tells me that he was acquainted with it in the East Riding. Did it spread as far as Lancashire or even wider? Please tell me, if you know.
So, where am I going with this?
We are having salad for our evening meal today. For a number of reasons, we are emptying the ‘fridge of its more aged items and there is a pack of Pâté in need of use. Normally this would be an appetizer and often I would serve some Cornichons on the side. This evening I am dropping half a slab each onto a plate of salad (Mother would be so proud).
Alas, I have no Cornichons!
However, I do have Cucumber and Onions and also one lonely Tomato.
No Malt Vinegar available (though if I really wanted it, I am certain that it might be had at The Shed) so I slummed it and used White Wine Vinegar 🙂 Every fibre of my 21st Century culinary being wished to add peppercorns and mustard seeds (at least) but I resisted that temptation and kept it Strictly Yorkshire. Strictly 1950s/60s and yes, 70s.
Seems like a fine thing to have done on Yorkshire Day, though perhaps some Shippams Meat Paste from a jar might have been more in keeping. (No, not going there, not ever!)
It has been weighing on my mind of late that I am doing nothing whatsoever in my life that offers a creative outlet. Not having that outlet makes me feel very much at odds with myself and I find that I am dissatisfied with the state of affairs.
There are other things weighing on my mind also.
I want to write more; to breathe some life into the blogs, perhaps also to write some fiction or poetry again. Referencing those Other Things – I have it in mind to write more about my life. Sometimes simple memories such as this one but also some weightier material. I am planning to unload some of my psychological baggage and believe that it is high time that I did so.
There is a new project forming in this blog and I am calling it the Left Luggage Office. Much, if not most of the material at the Left Luggage Office will be deeply personal and hopefully revealing – to me, at least. It will be a form of self-therapy, painful for me and perhaps also for the reader. It will not be material for the casual observer to stumble upon. Such posts will be password-protected.
The project is very much for me but that is not to say that I would not welcome having some trusted readers around me who might be prepared to comment and discuss and perhaps help to ease me through what I hope will be a period of growth and transformation. I can’t imagine why anybody would be interested but if you are, and if you recognise yourself in what I say here, you will know how to contact me and request access to these posts.
On a less serious note but altogether in the mood of kicking myself in the backside and getting the creative juices flowing once more, I am undertaking here and now to knuckle down to my fibrecrafts. In furtherance of this aim, I have this week dispatched an order to Hilltop Cloud and have two Nuno Felting packs winging their way to me. I am rather excited!
Boring or otherwise, you may expect to return to a round of knitting, spinning and felting posts. Such material needs no passwords and the unwary may well find themselves wrapped in wool…
I do hope that by declaring these plans that I will feel some commitment and urgency to carrying them out. I do hate just wasting my time! But it seems that lately I have had little will to crack 0n and do anything at all about that. The clock is ticking however. I do not grow younger and time should not be wasted.