Saturday, 10 January 2015


A Facebook friend recently bemoaned the number of leftovers she had after the Christmas holiday. "We always overestimate the amount of food we need", she wrote.

I wondered what her ancestors in the valley, who would have used every part of the family pig except the squeak, would think. As to  traditional Yule sweetmeats, the load of sugar in them acted as a preservative.

Coincidentally, in a recent Book Club on Radio 4, Marina Lewycka, born in a refugee camp and brought up by Ukrainian refugee parents in Yorkshire, reminisced about her student days. She had been surprised at the quantity of stuff which her colleagues in neighbouring digs threw out. She said that if her parents had been living with her, they would have raided those dustbins - and I don't think she was entirely joking.

I have rather more sympathy with today's single parents who rely on packaged meals. There are too many who blame poor people for not being able to cook. What those critics fail to realise is that the food bank clients are not only money-poor, but also usually time-poor as well, having to either work long hours or to juggle two or more jobs.

However, it is certainly true that people of my generation have a different cast of mind when it comes to using and re-using basic ingredients. My motto is that of Bernard Spear's music-hall creation, Loupy Lou. This character was a Greek or Italian immigrant cook, a forerunner of Harry Enfield's Stavros. One didn't question too closely the contents of meals in the local caff in the days of rationing. Spear used to sign off the act with this chorus:

Here we go Loopy Lou;
Here we go Loopy Lie;
What I don't put in the stew
Goes into the shepherd's pie.

So there are two or three stews and curries in the freezer (a luxury few post-war scrimpers and savers possessed) which should see me through the next few weekends.

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