11 November 2008
Getting by: how to eat well when times are bad
Women should get back in the kitchen, says the cookery writer Rose Prince. She has a point because men may be very good at preparing very expensive meals, but they tend to be pretty lousy at churning out the cheap, filling meals that people eat when times are bad. Women traditionally were just better at that type of game.
The problem, as Rose Prince points out in her article, is that British women these days have been encouraged, by cook books no less, to look to the can as the source of their raw materials. That is a big mistake if you want to save money as the local street market is always going to be able to undercut the processed food that the supermarkets sell.
Here in Mexico the American invented notion of the TV dinner is unknown and even the supermarkets stock fresh produce which is then made at home by a mother and her daughters. It's true that the local Walmart also has a small section for canned vegetables, but compared to its £5 billion British counterpart, that section is very small indeed.
If you want to see a still thriving tradition of cheap eating, then Liverpool is probably the place to look for it. Scouse is a type of stew that has been eaten in that city since God's dog was a pup, and its aim has always been to fill a stomach as cheaply as possible.
Most working class recipes such as scouse are actually not all the hard to follow. More importantly, since these dishes were prepared by women who tended to either work or had a platoon of children to care for, the cooking tends to involve long periods of time in the oven, with lots of simmering going on inside the casserole dish.
So, if you want to eat well when times are bad, then you could do worse than throw away all your trendy cook books and dig out your mother's old one. Then get yourself off to the market to buy your ingredients so that you can get cooking.
Girls, you really have no excuse, so it's off to the kitchen with you. . .