Fussy eating was never a choice for Sheffield children in the 1970s

Recent remarks by Gino D'Acampo about ‘fussy eaters’ made me think about whether he was right or whether even I was one.

Wednesday, 5th January 2022, 12:08 pm
Updated Monday, 10th January 2022, 11:18 am

The chef caused controversy when he called parents of fussy eaters ‘morons and idiots' saying it was their fault if their child didn’t like certain foods.

He believes there is no such thing as fussy eaters, but children should be trained by their parents.

The celebrity chef thinks that children would be prevented from developing bad eating habits by being made to eat what's on their plate.

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With his little friend, Tony Copwell is getting stuck in to a good old nursery tea, in October 1959

This reminded me of my youth in the 1970s when we, as many families, had all our meals at the table, and never on trays in front of the TV.

All seven of us were seated in our designated places.

My mum and dad sat at each end of the table, with my younger brother and myself either side of my mother.

No one left their place until their meal was finished, including sweet. I was lucky, my mum is a brilliant cook – although this wasn’t always appreciated as young child.

Enjoying a school meal in 1967

Most days the meal was eagerly devoured allowing us to catch the last bits of children’s television before the news.

On certain occasions mum would make a certain meal, a meal I couldn’t stomach – that being anything involving tripe or butter beans.

As my brothers and sister steadily peeled away to the front room, to the TV, I would be left with my mum, who would try and cajole me to eat more food than I had.

All the time I was listening to the TV in the background.

The Junior Star school dinner at Silverdale School in September 1980

I loved eating and was always hungry, so would never consider myself a fussy eater, but I believe we all have a nemesis when it comes to food.

Growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, nearly all the parents of that time would remember the war and all the food shortages as well as rationing.

This wasn’t a time to be a fussy eater. Lots of the food we take for granted now was very difficult to come by, if at all.

The adults I grew up around were vehemently against food waste of any sort.

This was excellently demonstrated by my mum, and then by the dinner ladies of my school. There was no sweet, or playtime, unless you cleared your plate, and this would never be an issue for me. However as I said, everyone has a food nemesis, at school mine was rhubarb crumble.

My generation were not allowed to be fussy – and we never had the amount of choice we have today.

Takeaways were a thing of dreams, we never had them, and there weren't that many about.

You drive down any main road in Sheffield today and there will be takeaways a plenty.

And the number of cookery, baking and dining programmes on TV these days, the different dietary requirements people have and the moral dietary choices we have to make shows how things have changed.

I wouldn’t say fussy, but more discerning? Our fussiness gives many in hospitality an opportunity to earn a living.

With so much choice via the internet or on the street is it hard not to be fussy?