… so many ways to say chocolate and those have hardly scratched the surface.
Anyway, just a few chocolaty comments. I don’t need a reason; it’s chocolate.
Rules of chocolate
Remember the acronym: WAFFLES
Never eat more chocolate than you can lift.
Chocolate is the answer and the question is irrelevant.
Have a chocolate bar before each meal; it will take the edge off your appetite and you will eat less.
If at first you don’t succeed, have a little chocolate.
Put ‘eat chocolate’ at the top of your list of things to do today and at least you’ll get one thing done.
A little too much chocolate is just about right.
If you have melted chocolate all over your hands, you’re eating it too slowly.
All well known, but worth repeating:
Coffee makes it possible to get out of bed, but chocolate makes it worthwhile.
Chocolate is nature’s way of making up for Mondays.
I’d give up chocolate, but I’m no quitter.
You can eat chocolate in front of your parents.
There’s a thin person inside of me screaming to get out, but I keep them sedated with chocolate.
So much chocolate, so little time.
Save the Earth! (It’s the only planet with chocolate).
Seven days without chocolate makes one weak.
If you ate a lifetime’s supply of chocolate in one day, should you be worried?
Will you buy me chocolate? (A) Yes – (B) A – (C) B
Chocolate is not a matter of life and death; it’s more important than that.
Star Trek gag: The Borg ~ Wrappers are futile; chocolate will be assimilated.
Health ~ Chocolate is made from cocoa beans and beans are vegetables. Sugar is obtained from either sugar beet or sugar cane, both of which are plants, so they are also vegetables. Chocolate, therefore, is a vegetable. Milk chocolate contains milk, which is a dairy product. Milk chocolate contains both vegetables and dairy and is therefore a health food.
“Chocolate is cheaper than therapy and you don’t need an appointment.” ~ Catherine Aitken
“I never met a chocolate I didn’t like.” ~ Counsellor Deanna Troi, Star Trek: The Next Generation
“There are four basic food groups: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, and chocolate truffles.” ~ Anonymous
“Exercise is a dirty word… Every time I hear it, I wash my mouth out with chocolate.” ~ Charles M Schulz
“Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm… chocolate….” ~ Homer Simpson
“As with most fine things, chocolate has its season. There is a simple memory aid that you can use to determine whether it is the correct time to order chocolate dishes: any month whose name contains the letter A, E, or U is the proper time for chocolate.” ~ Sandra Boynton
“Nine out of ten people like chocolate. The tenth person always lies.” ~ John Q. Tullius
“Caramels are only a fad. Chocolate is a permanent thing.” ~ Milton Hershey
“Chocolate: Here today… Gone today!” ~ Daniel Worona
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly chocolate” ~ Debbie Moose
“Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands – and then eat just one of the pieces.” ~ Judith Viorst
“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate” ~ Charles Dickens
“The 12-step chocoholics program: NEVER BE MORE THAN 12 STEPS AWAY FROM CHOCOLATE!” ~ Terry Moore
We owned a small local shop in the 1950s; Legion Stores at 13 Front Street, in Birstall, just north of Leicester in the English East Midlands.
The shop was in the oldest part of Birstall, quite close to the River Soar and opposite the very old St. James Church; relics of a Saxon window were found during major restoration works in the 19th century. The peel of church bells always takes me back to childhood Sunday mornings, either in the old shop, or at number 5, an old cottage we’d later rented, just down the road.
For the first few years that we had the shop food was still rationed and Mum used to bone and slice the bacon and measure out all the rationed portions of cheese and meat.
Mum and Grandma did most of the serving in the shop because Grandad didn’t like working behind the counter; he didn’t have much patience and always said he couldn’t put up with the ‘chatting women’.
Almost everything had to be weighed and measured out by hand, hardly anything came pre-packed. Things like sugar came in big bags and were measured into small bags for the customer, bacon was sliced by hand and parcelled up, cheese, lard and butter had to be cut into chunks, weighed and wrapped.
In the kitchen at the back of the shop we had a small butter churn, like a small wooden barrel with a turning handle that we used to make our own butter. I don’t actually remember if we churned the butter that was sold in the shop, although I do remember my Mum and Grandma patting the measured chunks of butter into blocks with wooden paddles and wrapping them in paper.
Particular delights for me were the rows of jars full of sweets, unfortunately out of my reach. Something I could actually reach were the eggs, dozens of them in stacks of trays. My mother told me that one day I picked up some of the eggs and when she told me to put them down, I just dropped them on the floor. I bet the cane that she kept behind the bread board came out that time.
One of my favourite parts of the shop were the rows of little wooden drawers behind the counter and below the shelves of sweet jars, tins and jams. These drawers were full of various dry goods, such as salt, with small metal scoops used to measure the contents into bags. The drawer I liked most of all contained lots of button badges, these must have been given out by the suppliers, because I seem to remember them advertising things like Saxa salt.
The shop did steady business and just about paid its way for a few years, but self-serve food stores started to become popular in the 1950s, gradually turning into the chains of supermarkets that most of us buy our food from today.
By the late 1950s the old shop on Front Street wasn’t doing very well, loosing customers to the newer shops in the village at Sibson’s Corner, so when Mum and Dad moved in 1959, to a new house on a new estate off Greengate Lane, Grandma and Grandad Manterfield gave the shop up and moved into the old cottage that we’d rented at 5 Front Street.
So that was the end of our little retail experiment, but it left me with many happy memories of a quieter time in a small corner of a very old village.
A conversation at work recently reminded me how differently we treat food these days, compared to fifty, or so, years ago.
Someone was sniffing and scrutinising the milk, prior to making a hot drink, and decided it was time to part company, because the milk wasn’t quite as fresh and youthful as it had been (I know the feeling) and it reminded me of how we stored and used milk before we had fridges.
(Gripping stuff, are you sure you don’t have anything better to do; clip your toenails, put the cat out?)
When I started to think back I was quite surprised at how much our shopping, cooking and eating habits have changed since the 1950s. In fact before long I might also use it as an excuse to blather on about the local stores that we had before supermarkets arrived on the scene.
(Incidentally, why is the cat on fire?)
Anyway, back to milk. Before the widespread appearance of supermarkets in the late 1950s and early 1960s, most people had fresh milk delivered daily and, without a fridge, it was kept in the coolest place in the kitchen, pantry or cellar. We sometimes also had bottles of sterilized milk, which kept longer unopened, but didn’t taste as good as the fresh stuff.
Fridges didn’t become very widespread in British homes until the 1960s and 70s, so milk was normally used the day it was delivered, but if it happened to hang around a little longer, particularly in hot weather, it would start turn a little too sour for regular use.
Now I don’t know about most families at the time, but ours didn’t often throw it out. We kept it in a cool place until it had thickened up; I think Mum used to mix something like a little lemon juice in to curdle it. Then it was poured (well, perhaps glopped would be a better description) onto a piece of muslin, which was gathered up with the ends tied together, then hung over a bowl to allow the liquid to drain off. Once it stopped dripping it had a consistency between cream cheese and cottage cheese and was ready for use. At some point it was mixed with salt to improve the flavour and keep it fresh for longer, but I can’t remember if the salt was added at the end or before it was strained through the muslin.
The storage and shelf life of fresh food has altered a lot; food didn’t have ‘sell by’ or ‘use by’ dates until the 1970s, and then it was a bit sporadic. We used to pick up and examine our food; if it smelled okay and there are no unsightly slimy bits, then we would just eat it. If the cheese had a bit of mould growing on the outside, we would cut a layer off. If the bread was getting stale it was made into bread pudding, stale cake was made into trifle and so on.
I’m loath to trot out the customary ‘it never did me any harm’, but I do think we waste too much food. It would be more practical to inspect our food carefully and cook it thoroughly and with care, instead of just chucking it out for what sometimes seems to be an arbitrary date that depends on too many variables to be completely accurate.
We used to store some fruit and vegetables for months. Onions, for example, were cleaned up and kept dry, tied together and hung from hooks in the shed. When we wanted one, it was pulled or snipped one from the bunch and with luck they would keep all winter, or even longer.
Apples, as long as they were fresh and undamaged, would keep for months stored in a cool, dark place with a good air circulation. Similarly, we stored clean, dry, undamaged potatoes for a long time in paper or hessian sacks kept in cool, dry and dark conditions.
Anyway, you get the idea, before this turns into an episode of Gardener’s Question Time.
Another pre-fridge piece of equipment we used was a meat safe fixed to the wall outside, on the north facing side of the house, to keep it cool and out of the sun. The meat safe was a small metal cupboard with mesh covered holes to allow air circulation, but keep flies and vermin out, and we kept dairy produce, joints of meat, sausages, dripping and potted meat in it, particularly in cooler months.
In an old village shop we once managed, we had a cool and damp cellar that often served as a fridge. Mum made a trifle for a party and stored it in the cellar; it may have been for my birthday, but I don’t remember that. What I do remember is that when she went down to collect the trifle, there was a large frog sitting, apparently quite comfortably, in the centre. I don’t think we ate the trifle, although Dad wasn’t so fussy and probably scooped out the contaminated bits and scoffed the rest.