Saturday 8 October 2011

Old-school cuisine ... at a pinch!

(c) Teri Pengilley
Instant whip was always a handful to whisk and you never got it completely smooth, a residue of sickly powder laying at the bottom of the dish. Such was the state of cooking in the sixties.

The Independent's Gerard Gilbert cites this out-of-a-packet pudding as one of the great milestones of cooking in the sixties. Is Instant Whip the nadir of home-spun cooking or the start of the foodie revolution which transformed Britons' eating habits and led us directly to Jamie Oliver and Ready Steady Cook? Gilbert talks to Valentine Warner, the star of a new TV series Eat the Sixties, to answer that very question.

Warner turns to one of the great cookbooks of the sixties to argue that Britain's palate was changing for the better, and Chicken Kievs and Smash instant potato were merely the culinary foothills of a long slog up Mount Cuisine:
'Valentine Warner is knocking on my front door with the ingredients for chicken kiev and prawn and avocado cocktail, as well as a copy of Len Deighton's Action Cook Book. The spy novelist who gave us Harry Palmer was also an enthusiastic chef who wrote a newspaper recipe column throughout the Sixties. "This is actually a really good little cookbook," says Warner, showing me the cover of a man ladling spaghetti from a saucepan as a girlfriend encouragingly tousles his hair from behind (this is the 2008 reprint – knowingly sexist). "There were more men left to their own devices to get on with it... the bachelor in the kitchen."'
Great nostalgic stirrings reading this article. As a child, Instant Whip was a super treat, for which a whisk a procured and much furious beating and stirring later I was eating the sickliest, treacliest .... tastiest pudding around.

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