Lockdown has seen people across the country dedicate themselves to cooking and baking like never before, and the appetite for food programs dates back to Delia Smith’s vintage offerings from the 1970s.
Delia Smith’s Cooking Class, available on iPlayer, has drawn a new generation of viewers, fascinated by how much has changed in the last 50 years, and picked up on tips that have stood the test of time.
On the show, the Woking-born chef, now 79, advises using lentils as a substitute for meat, which she thinks would only get more expensive, and introduced viewers to delicacies like hummus.
It sparked a lively thread on Mumsnet where cooks discussed their memories from the time. Many said that they rarely ate cuisine from other countries and that meat was only for special occasions because it was too expensive.
People from across the UK have discussed how cooking has changed since the 1970s after watching Delia Smith’s cooking class (pictured) on BBC iPlayer
Delia shared a selection of recipes (pictured) on her cooking show, urging viewers to get tips from poorer countries on dishes like lentil cakes with tomato sauce
In an episode on legumes, Delia describes beans and lentils as “the future” and says, “If you have a balanced diet, legumes can give you the same amount of protein as meat at a fraction of the cost.”
“They will play a very important role in our diet in the future because meat is becoming more expensive and also much scarcer.
“We can take a tip from some of the poorer countries in the world that make really delicious legume recipes.”
She explains the history of chickpeas from Greece, adding: “Sometimes in salads and a puree called humus.”
In one episode, Delia explains the importance of legumes (pictured) as an alternative to meat and describes them as the future of food
In another episode, Delia visits a fishmonger who recommends eating fish (pictured) on the same day or the next day at the latest
While we’re used to having year-round access to all the food we could want, importing ingredients from around the world was much more common in the 1970s.
The cook demonstrates her recipe for a red kidney bean salad and says, “It’s very good for the winter months when there aren’t that many salad ingredients available.”
In another episode, Delia also shares her advice on cooking fish and is instructed by a fishmonger to eat the products on the same day they were purchased or the next day at the latest, as not all UK homes are at that time Had freezers.
A post on Mumsnet, a woman who saw the cooking show, sparked a discussion about people who do not cook strange foods
One viewer wrote of the show on Mumsnet: “Meat may be relatively cheap now, but it was very expensive in the 1970s, especially chicken. It was a Christmas present when I was a kid. We had meat, but not at every meal.
“And no, unusual foreign foods were rarely cooked at home. Hell, we rarely went to restaurants. I remember my first visit to a Chinese restaurant as a kid, it was such a rare treat. I also had fresh salmon, asparagus and avocado in my head for the first time. «
Another said, “I think it’s hard to imagine the difference that widespread ownership of freezers has made in purchasing and storing perishable products (such as meat).
“We didn’t get a freezer in the early 80s and going somewhere like Farmfoods / Island to find cheap burgers and crispy pancakes etc was the equivalent of an Ikea that opened near your town in the 90s.
“In the 1970s, our meat consumption consisted almost entirely of minced meat or sausages, and a roast dinner on a Sunday was a treat with leftovers seeping out.
Many people said in the 1970s that they mostly ate fish and chips because a Chinese takeout was too expensive
However, others said they ate meat regularly, but it would be a cheap option and raved about how Delia revolutionized their cuisine.
‘We were so excited about Delia’s program. It made cooking interesting and accessible. The books came in three volumes and we were so excited when they were published. Their all-in-one sponge was a game changer. I still use their recipes because I love so many of them.
“I used to cook Indian occasionally, but not ready-made sauces back then, so I had a collection of spices. Some were really hard to find. Chinese was very difficult from the ground up, which was the only way. It was easier to buy in Chinese restaurants where bright colors were used. Obviously there weren’t any ready meals unless you count Frey Bento’s canned cake.
“We made pasta, but not pizza. I made steak and kidney patties and puddings. Steak, chops, ham steaks and macaroni cheese. I didn’t use herbs or garlic. I didn’t eat mushrooms until I was an adult. There weren’t any zucchini or eggplants outside of London. We were expected to stay home so we had time to shop and cook. I got my first freezer the day my first baby was born. It arrived when I was going to work, ”wrote one.
Others raved that Dalia revolutionized cooking, revealing that because of the cost, they would only eat meat on special occasions