Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Food Storage

Our refrigerator is bulging with Thanksgiving leftovers. It brings to mind some changes that I have experienced in my lifetime.

I can just remember when my family obtained a refrigerator to replace the icebox, in about 1930. Our large home in England had a room (which we called "the dairy" ) on the north side of the house, next to "the larder", which in turn was next to the kitchen. The dairy was where the "fridge" was located, and where we stored items that kept best when cool..

My father maintained a prize-winning herd of Jersey cattle, so we had an ample supply of full-cream milk. He was a successful businessman, not a farmer, and six days a week he was driven by his chauffeur to catch an electric train from Redhill to Cannon Street, where his company driver would pick him up and drive him the short distance to his London main office.

He loved to have his cattle compete at Agricultural Shows (somewhat similar to County Fairs in the U.S.), and the walls of the cowsheds were papered over with colored cards, celebrating awards, many of them First Prizes.

Our milk wasn't pasteurized, but the cows were "TT" (tuberculin tested). Even with our parents, three children, and about ten household servants, there was probably a surplus of milk, presumably sold to a commercial dairy.

Adjacent to the dairy was the "larder", the main food storage room, next to the kitchen. Then there was a cupboard for cans and unopened packages.

In the "pantry", on the other side of the kitchen, were cutlery, china, glassware, and other supplies for the dining room.

Like so many terms related to food in English, two of those words derive from Norman French--"lard" meaning bacon, and "pain" meaning bread. One doesn't see much lard these days, as Crisco and other vegetable shortenings have taken its place. It is essentially bacon fat, and was used in cooking, where today we would mostly use olive oil, canola, or other frying oil.

A "joint" of Roast Beef was a frequent feature of "Sunday Lunch", the most important meal of the week. Fat was collected from the roasting pan, and this "dripping" was often served (later) to all, being spread on bread. (In small quantities, I'd probably still think it delicious.) I remember the amazement of an audience watching a Pinter play when a character asked what was for breakfast, and was told "fried bread". When served with (say) bacon & egg, fried bread is delicious.

Enough, already. Time to eat some of the superb turkey & mushroom pie that Barbara has made, followed by salad and a cranberry cake dessert. Yum!

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