Friday, 19 March 2010

Ooh Yum - Tales from the Not Too Distant Past 1

‘Potatoes in their jackets,’ said Lady Edwards, proprietor of the Chelsea Froebel School. Fifty eager faces turned toward the kitchen door. And there she was, the cook, emerging from her cavern, a squat Giles-cartoon-granny in a helmet of hairnetted lavender curls.
But it wasn’t the woman we were looking at; it was the huge vat she was carrying. Could it be - yes, oh joy, it was - the only palatable dish on the school menu, the kitchen’s one speciality: spam stew.
And, better still, that meant jelly for pudding. Fifty eager faces looked up at the ceiling. Perhaps it would be orange for a change today. We stared at the pattern of green and yellow and red up there already. Orange was the one colour missing from the abstract we’d created with our flicking spoons.


  1. Spam stew? Disgusting. And an awful waste of Spam - fritters are yum. And I bet jelly colourant is a bugger to remove.

  2. Is this a true story? And did the ceiling end up looking like some sort of psychadelic lava lamp?

  3. sounds remarkably similar to my alma mater

  4. Excellent. Our most infamous school dinners were a repellent cheese "quiche" and a "chicken supreme" with the precise texture of snot.

  5. Oh frabjous days. Did you get Cheesy Mash for supper?

  6. Pink blancmange was better for both staining power and capacity for making really disgusting stalactites

  7. Gaw - spam fritters, shudder
    Gadjo - the ceiling was eventually sold to Charles Saatchi, but sadly lost in his warehouse fire a few years ago (actually that's not true, but the rest is.)
    Worm - maybe there was a school food recipe book that all cooks used in those days
    Brit - 'quiche', chicken 'supreme', the grandeur, but double shudder re the texture
    Recusant - cheesy mash sounds great but unfortunately I mainly remember dry, overcooked liver and something disgusting called Instant Whip, and for some reason I never wanted to hurt my mother's feelings by telling her I didn't like either. I finally mentioned I didn't like liver to her the other day and she said,'Why on earth didn't you say? I thought you loved it,' and seemed quite unworried, so I really shouldn't have kept quiet so long.
    Kevin Musgrove - the image of those stalactites, on top of Brit's snot memories are too much. I have to go away now and be sick.

  8. Just come across this - yes, the Froebel School's cuisine was disgusting. Those baked potatoes , I remember were cut up a,d put in next day's horrid, bitter, slimy tinned spaghetti.

    Thanks to a parent's complaints; the lunches improved marginally to include very cheap ice cream once a term.

    I got rid of the muck they called food under the table and in the Infant's sandpit. One day, when I wouldn't eat the grizzle, tubes and jelly lump they called corned beef, I was put in the Infant's washroom for the afternoon until they decided I had 'eaten' sufficient of the muck.

    Maybe this is why, as a child, I was such a picky eater at home.

  9. Gosh, you must have been there later than me - spaghetti was too exotic to be served to small children in my day (I think - possibly I've just blanked the horrible experience from my memory.)

  10. I remember broad beans, cabbage and other atrocities, but actually I thought CFS was a wonderful school. Loved the children, teachers, games, block study, nature study, painting, story telling. Hated nap time. I was there 55-59.

    1. It was a wonderful school in many ways. I also hated nap times. I missed you by a few years. I wonder when it first opened - could you have been in one of the first cohorts? I still can almost feel my wondering admiration for those children old enough to climb the stairs to classrooms on the first floor. I thought I would never reach such heights.