Teaching cookery in the 1970s

Posted on June 21, 2009 by Simon Ridgwell | 0 Comments


I am currently writing a book about how I started teaching cookery in London schools in the 1970s.
It’s called I taught them to cook.
Having left university with a science degree, I knew a lot about nutrition and the chemistry of food, but I had no idea how to run a cookery room, manage a boisterous class and cook things. My first lessons were a disaster. Bread rolls baked hard as bullets, cakes that sunk, pressure cookers squirting tomato soup all over us.
The 1970s was a time of great change in our food culture, but I had to teach boys and girls really daft things in order to get them through the CSE and O level Cookery. Lessons included

  • How to lay an invalid tray and make junket,
  • Awful offal such as stuffed hearts,
  • Lots of fatty cakes and pastry.
    There were no microwaves, food labelling or computers and we learnt as we went along.
    The book includes stories of the different lessons I had to teach and the challenges of teaching in the east end of London in such interesting times as the miner’s and teachers’ strikes, the 3 day week and the introduction of strange new foods including TVP.

Posted in 1970s cookery, I taught them to cook


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