When gastronomy was fashionable … despite food rationing
I HAVE heard people tell me that I was “born 20 years too late”.
I’m sure it means nicely and based on my passion for the past, I think I understand what they mean.
An earlier birth of 20 years, however, would only take me back to my 80s and my date of birth to the 40s.
Two centuries might be a better option, but I have to admit, I love watching some of those original 40s, 50s, and early 60s commercials.
They sort of seem to have a touch of old world charm that dates back to an even older era – an era of expected politeness, places where a collar and tie were required for admission, and social media (even l computer come to that) and cell phones were nothing more than an imagined futuristic concept.
A quick overview of past editions of Essex countryside magazine (which was launched in the fall of 1952 with a photo of Maldon on the cover) will give you an idea of what I mean.
I particularly like the advertisements for “gastronomy”. The Maldon restaurants that appear are usually the Blue Boar and the King’s Head.
These two are also in local directories and guides of the time, but other dining establishments are also sometimes mentioned.
The 1950-51 edition of Maldon and the beautiful Blackwater Estuary – official city and district guide includes an entire page about the Blue Boar Hotel.
A 1950s advertisement for the Blue Boar Hotel
There is a photo of the dining room with period furniture and crisp white tablecloths.
It was a trust house at the time and boasted; “First class accommodation and catering”.
The King’s Head Hotel, meanwhile, offered catering for “yachting evenings” and “lunches, teas and dinners open to all”.
Dear old Tommy Harries was the owner then.
In addition to those two, the Ship Hotel on Market Hill (where my uncle and aunt once owned and landed) “hosted parties.”
Five years later, the revised edition of the guide again included the Blue Boar (still a Trust House) which continued to be known for its first-class catering with well-received “lunch and dinner table reservations”. Likewise, the King’s Head has promoted its “excellent catering”.
In 1960 there was a veritable plethora of restaurants and cafes – in addition to the old devotees was the Cozy restaurant in Church Street, D&G Copsey (actually a fish and chips at 199 High Street, which also had a dining room. dining), the Quarterdeck Café at Heybridge Basin for ‘coffee, lunches, teas and ice cream’, the Railway Bell at Station Road, with seating for 50 and ‘lunches to order’, the Singing Kettle on the causeway , with “daily fresh cakes and pastries by the chef from fresh eggs”, and Wilesmith’s, “opposite Marine Parade”, with “breakfasts, teas, dinners and special quotes for outings festive “.
Food was still influenced by a 14-year rationing period during and after WWII, but in the 1960s menus typically included roasts (chicken, beef, pork, and lamb), pork chops, pies shepherd and cottage cheese, steak and kidney pie, beef stew, chicken casserole and various fish dishes.
But it wasn’t just traditional dishes – Elizabeth David had profoundly changed English cuisine with her 1950’s A Mediterranean cookbook and, closer to home, Christina Foyle of Beeleigh Abbey released her Party book and food suggestions for cocktails, terraces, buffets, lunches, dinners and children’s parties and wines and cheeses.
I particularly like the sound of his “roast duck with mushroom sauce” with ingredients of duck, brandy, mushrooms, apple pulp, consomme, Italian vermouth and bay leaves.
One who was renowned for her cooking was the late Mrs. Winifred Mary Hone of the Soc’n Sail Social and Sailing Club (now the Coast Inn) on the nearby island of Mersea.
Christina Foyle from Beeleigh Abbey has published her Party Book
She served dishes to the rich and famous, including (they say) the greatest of the English, Sir Winston Churchill.
His specialties included things like hare soup, creamed oysters, and roast goose – topped with grilled tomatoes, crispy fried potatoes, boiled salicornia, and offal sauce.
In addition to being a necessity for survival, eating (especially artistic cuisine) continues to be one of the pleasures in life, as evidenced by BBC audience figures Chef.
In Maldon we are still really spoiled for choice when it comes to places to eat.
Like you, I’m sure, I have my own favorites – The Swan, Il Camino, Dante’s, Queen Victoria, Luigi’s Al fresco, Sark, our selection of Indian restaurants and Le Bouchon (in Heybridge) among them.
On my last birthday our lovely daughter gave us a night out at Talbooth by the River Stour in Dedham.
This iconic restaurant was founded in 1952 by the late Gerald Milsom. A few years later, in 1969, Gerald bought Maison Talbooth and turned it into a luxury hotel.
It regularly advertised in the Essex countryside, but I guess my grandparents or even my Maldon parents never dreamed of eating there.
It’s certainly not cheap, but my gosh it’s a real quality dining experience. Good wine and good food are the order of the day and, in the words of an author from Essex, if done right, good food now (like in the 1950s) can really be. ; “The keys to heaven”.
I wish you all a Happy New Year and I hope all your culinary experiences in 2022 will be good!