Monica Makes Sense: Mr Right? Only if he can cook dinner.

Monica Makes sense: Monica Dyson.
Monica Makes sense: Monica Dyson.
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The Way to a man’s heart?’

We always look forward to our evening meal don’t we? It might be a take-away, we might eat out, or it could be home cooked. As children we took it for granted that we would have a nourishing hot meal put in front of us each evening and we wouldn’t have dared to waste any of it.

There were no multiple choices - we ate what was there. Our mothers would use old adages like ‘Waste not, want not’ or ‘The starving children in China or Africa would be glad of that!’

Mother reigned supreme in the kitchen. It was her domain. She knew her place and wouldn’t have expected her husband to bother himself with any of the complex procedures involved in producing a meal.

How times have changed.

No longer is it true that the way to a mans heart is through his stomach, another little homily designed to make women feel loved and wanted, but it seems today the way to a woman’s affections might well be through her stomach. High on the list of attributes necessary for Mr Right comes, after job, income and personality - must be able to cook!

Possibly due to the popularity of the television cookery programmes, more and more men are turning their hands to the once female preserve. It is a fact that women cook not always for pleasure but often more for necessity and is just another household chore like the washing, ironing and cleaning.

Women are very good at multi tasking, whereas for men cooking is usually a hobby. They don’t have to do anything except the job in hand, serve up the meal with the razzamatazz usually reserved for announcements at the Oscars, and can leave the clearing up and washing up to their other half. Get real, clearing up as well?

But it’s a step in the right direction even though our fathers must be frequently turning in their graves.

When it comes to nostalgia, we always remember with great affection the foods of the 1950s and 1960s.

Playing out on Sunday mornings with the smell of Sunday roasts drifting through the air from every house. Men in their best suits striding purposefully off to the pub and staggering not quite so confidently home again. The sound of Billy Cotton’s Band Show and Two Way Family Favourites coming from open windows. Giant Yorkshire puddings to accompany the joint.

Sometimes left over Yorkshire pudding would be served as a pudding with jam on it. Afterwards, Father asleep on the sofa whilst mum tackled the washing up before she started on the Sunday tea of cooked meat, sometimes Spam, and occasionally tinned salmon or crab, especially if visitors were expected, and then tinned fruit with Carnation milk. Sometimes the ice-cream man would come along and puddings would get ice cream instead of Carnation milk.

Mondays would be Bubble and Squeak made over from the left over Sunday joint. They must have been bigger than the ones we get today!

Of course that would be an easy meal for mum to prepare given that Monday was always washday. Yes, even if it rained like mad and the forecast was good for the rest of the week, the washing was done and put to dry round the kitchen. Because the law decreed that Tuesday was ironing day!

Great importance was placed on good nourishing and filling food and if it was inexpensive then that was all to the good. Oxtail stew, meat and potato pie, fish, rabbit stew, dumplings, tripe and onions, sausages, spare rib, brisket, hash, cowheel, udder, pigs trotters, cheese and onion done in milk in the oven and corned beef. When you came in from school and were starving you always had a ‘biting on‘ of bread and jam, bread and condensed milk or bread and dripping.

Of course these would be referred to as the ‘bad old days’ as far as diet was concerned. We never seemed to worry then about cholesterol or heart attacks but there seemed to be no link then between diet and health. Feeding the family as cheaply as possible was the most important thing.

I don’t seem to remember that obesity was a problem in those days and there was certainly no such thing as slimming clubs. Children played outside from dawn to dusk, people walked more as not many families had cars and there were not as many labour saving devices so housework involved more effort.

Today’s young housewives have never had it so good but is it at the expense of traditional skills like cooking?