Why write this story?

I’m packing the many books and files that I’ve used in my teaching and writing career, and realise that I have reached an age when I am part of food and teaching history.

In lockdown alone I have time to gather memories and explore the amazing changes in our eating and cooking habits since I started teaching in 1970 in London comprehensive schools -that’s fifty years ago.

I teach them to cook is my story, of how as a young teacher and new head of department in an east London school, my job was to get boys and girls cooking tasty, thrifty, nutritious dishes so that they could pass the dreaded practical exam. My lessons were rather too noisy and the boys had great fun teasing me when I told them to learn the rubbing in method, knock up pastry edges and decorate fairy cakes.

Along the way learnt daft things like Invalid Cooking, Awful offal – they called it that – and how to use the right frilled d’oiley or flan ring for savoury and sweet dishes.

Meanwhile in the 1970s, London food shops were bursting with new foods like avocados, yogurt, spaghetti and Iceberg lettuce and food manufacturers were inventing magical products – Angel Delight and Soya chunks for me to use in our recipes.

Come with me on my journey!

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