Food/Memory

What’s wrong with food today.
My family has a fat gene, everything they eat turns to fat. My Pop lived till he was 94 and in rude good health, consuming every bit of fat, butter, cream, cake, biscuit, potato he could lay hands on. He drank beer and whisky and smoked. Most of my Uncles, Aunties and assorted others were the same. Diabetes 2 was not heard of.

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My mother’s kitchen and the kitchens of most families in the 1950’s were uncomplicated affairs with the food being repetitive and simple. The cooking methods in the main uncomplicated and the use of well grown/manufactured product expected and delivered. Local preferred.

My family were butchers, my father assisted the slaughtermen. The animals killed for consumption in the Port Fairy region were all sourced from the Western District and a bit from the Wimmera. Pop and Uncle Syd did all the buying, inspecting the animals before they bought and hearing and seeing how they were raised.

loaf-sugar-1950s

Vegetables were either grown or if purchased, grown by local growers, not much travelled great distances. Wheat and therefor flour was grown in Victoria and milled where it was grown. Butter was produced locally as was cheese. Additives like spices, salt, pepper were imported. Vinegar made in Melbourne as were biscuits. Vegetables and fruit were seasonal often home grown.
We often ate wild rabbits, wild duck and lots of seafood caught off the wharf and from small, very unreliable boats that bobbed around in the heavy swells. Just because my family had butcher shop, meant nothing. Mum and Dad grew most of the fruit and vegetables we consumed, fruit fell from trees in summer and into mums preserving jars as fruit, jams, pickles chutneys and sauces. Life was very different then.

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Some would say I am old enough to go back to first settlement! From my perspective I seem to have found myself born and raised during a time of amazing change, one foot in the past, yet embracing the future with all it offered, technology, speed, travel and rapid rapid change. Some might say a loss of quality. We maybe did hurl the baby out with the bathwater.
Reflection can be a dangerous thing, comparisons are usually odious. How can you say that the loaf of bread baked by Tommy Digby in Caddy’s bakers in the 1940’s was better than what is baked by bakers today, you can’t! You can say that Tommy’s loaf of high tin made from real flour, good yeast (rightly called sour dough starter) cooked in a wood fired old oven, compared to the ubiquitous sliced and yes, the majors offering of ‘real’ bread is not as good as Tommy’s was. Was the tin of Heinz Tomato soup in the 50’s, same, better, different to that in 2014?
I was amazed when I read an article about Pork, it was about the way that Pigs in Europe were raised and slaughtered and consumed by country people. My assumption was, based on what I saw in Port Fairy, that every pig, including the ones at Piggy Smiths farm, were given food scraps, lots of vegetables, grains and fruits, they turned out to be fat jolly affairs full of flavour. Indeed true that in the past, in European traditions, pigs were very well treated with food. By all accounts, todays pigs are not treated so well. But that’s a story for another time.

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Debutantes ball, supper dances, afternoon tea at the bowls and golf club, afternoon tea with Mum’s group of friends. I was born in times when people took on life in a much different way, more gentle, no dependence on electronics for example. In my young world not even the newspapers had an impact on me and the newsreels we saw at Pins Palace once a week were many weeks behind the event and of little relevance to a country kid in Port Fairy. More relevant was the day to day thrust of life and living that happened.
I look back with great enjoyment at the food we ate, Mum was an adequate cook, Mum’s sisters very good at various things. I ate home made home cooked 90% of the time. What we ate little of was, pasta, rice, noodles, what we ate lots of was wheat (in various forms) potato and pumpkin, cabbage, beans and peas. Tomato was in summer, stone fruits the same, although Mum would always preserve some for pies and tarts during the year. The rhythm of the seasons dictated the diet, even to eggs which were sometimes prolific, were preserved in abundant times, occasionally with disastrous effect.

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My point is that in the main our diets were free of chemicals, that cannot be said of todays world.
Do you enjoy pasta, its a chemical cocktail… look at
http://www.professionalpasta.it/source/pastarawmerials.html
Click on additives. It will surprise and shock you.
It’s not hard to draw the conclusion that the world was a different place, that what was consumed 50 years ago, was demonstrably different to what is consumed today.
Exciting thing is that there is a movement of people, who simply refuse to accept the foods, controlled by such companies world wide as Monsanto through their ownership of seed banks, to the same companies manipulation of genetics and the use of a variety of chemicals that are not natural. Monsanto have singularly been responsible it seems, for manipulation of foods for their own financial ends. The movement of people who reject this and are opting for chemical free, sustainable, organically grown is becoming bigger and bigger and with encouragement may be instrumental in reversing the trends of chemical lifestyles.
Whilst in the end I have no one else to blame but myself for getting Diabetes 2, I think that part of the blame must also be shared with things over which I had no control, the over indulgence in pasta and not in a balanced Mediterranean way, introduction of more rice, again not balanced. We ate bread, pasta, potato and rice, often in the same meal. We still loved cakes and deserts. What hope did I have? But the phenomena world wide of D2 is now well documented, and it may or may not be the extraordinary change of diet, the introduction of foods that had chemical additions. We stopped eating simple and started eating complex.
My cravings now have entered the phase where I want the foods of my younger life. Things like a great mashed potato hold more allure than a bowl of steamed rice. I embrace the simplicity of a good roast, cooked well (no issues of slow cook fast cook hot cook cool cook!!) a lovely soupy stew to dip my bread into, large bowls of salad made with the same dressing I have loved for years. My nose is often pressed up against the window of a bakery and my nostrils inhaling the aromas, sadly my taste buds and my other senses are often not working in sync and the actual consumption of these baked goods is sadly lacking.
So I engage with my taste buds, I engage with D2 and I hope that in the end, my diet is one that will allow me the grace of age and spending the rest of my life in relative good health.

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~ by peterwatson on July 15, 2014.

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