Fish paste! Tinned peach slices!! Ox tongue!!! They had it all in 1976. And if you didn’t live near a “Big Choice” Liptons, there was always a fabulous array of groceries available at the Little Shop on the corner.
Not that you’ll find any of this in the nouvelle vague of Seventies-themed restaurants. Prawn Cocktail, Steak Diane and Black Forest Gateaux might be a fair representation of what passed for exoticism in that benighted decade, but it was hardly representative of the diet of the average pasty-faced Brit.
Even the Eighties – now amazingly viewed as a time of glamour and sophistication – were little better.
Flashbak recalls meeting an Italian on a train to London from Essex, where he was billeted with an English family. They had given him a packed lunch in a small Tupperware box, which he opened to show me the contents: a cheese-spread sandwich in long-life sliced bread, a Blue Riband biscuit, and an apple. “Tell me,” he asked, in a genuinely puzzled tone. “Is this normal?”
Reader, it was.