Did food taste better
years ago and if so, why?
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Did food taste better in years gone by?
My mother's generation regularly complained that food didn't taste like it used to.
She was born in the early years of the 20th century while Edward VII was on the throne,
and her mother, who did the cooking for the family was using Victorian techniques.
I think that my mother was almost certainly right that food used to have
more flavour years ago and I believe that there are several reasons - see below.
Why food probably tasted better in years gone by
In years gone by:
- Food really was organically produced. There was no intensive
farming of cereals and vegetables, and farm animals and poultry
roamed freely. Their diet included scraps from people's tables and
what they could scratch around to find for themselves.
- No food was ever served really cold because there were no fridges.
A shaded outhouse or food safe was in every home, but it was never
colder than the surrounding temperature, and, apart from in the
depths of a cold winter, it was never as cold as a fridge. Food that is colder than room
temperature is never as tasty as food served at room temperature.
Just try bread or chocolate straight from the fridge, to see for
- People in the past were not as concerned about germs as we are
today, so all kitchens had what was known as a stock pot. The
from one meal were placed into it and then added to the next meal and
so on. This considerably added to the combination of flavours in
the stock pot making future meals far more flavoursome than than if
only the stock cubes of today had been used.
- Excess fat from roasts was poured off into a basin and kept for
later use - again with no concern for germs. Provided that food
smelled all right it was taken as all right.
- Many foodstuffs, herbs and spices etc were not available during
the severe rationing of World War II and into the late 1950s. So a whole
generation grew up without learning the associated cookery tips and
tricks by watching
their mothers. This generation was accordingly not able to
pass these tips and tricks on to their own children. So, for me, and I suspect
for most other people, finding out about old
methods of food preparation has involved spending time talking to
old people and reading old books. It is not automatic. Incidentally
the old cookery book that everyone has heard of is Mrs Beeton's.
However, just glancing through it shows that she was writing for
the more affluent members of society with time on their hands. My
interest and the focus of the pages in the side menu is in the old ways of everyday cooking in ordinary
How to achieve the same flavoursome tastes today
Today we are concerned about germs and we have less time to devote to meal
preparation. So is it
possible to achieve that old fashioned taste with modern labour-saving methods, without paying a premium for organic food
and without a risk to health? I believe that the answer is yes, to a large
The pages in the
side menu show how
I have done my best to achieve the old fashioned taste while making my own amendments to
capitalise on more
modern techniques, equipment and attention to food safety. I hope you find the pages
interesting and useful.