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10 March 2009


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Oh no, that's another book I need then!

I remember school meals quite fondly, my mother was a reluctant cook (yes, that is a polite way of saying terrible, she was very attached to the simmering oven of her Aga and every thing we ate had to spend many hours in there before it got to the table).


Oooh, I am very jealous that you have such a good, up-to-the-minute library. Ours is great for fiction, but really slow to get in non-fiction. When I worked there at weekends while at university, the only good thing about the job was that I had first dibs on everything that came in! Oh, and no fines to pay either.

I shall just have to make do with finding slightly damaged but much cheaper books that I want from Amazon Marketplace. Although I think my colleagues were a bit bemused this morning when Sarah Raven's Complete Christmas arrived. I had to explain that I got it for £5 instead of £25 and that it was a bargain I couldn't refuse. I still had to put up with odd looks though!

Lucy Locket-Pocket

I actually liked school dinners - but nothing is as nice as my mum and dad's cooking! Whenever we go over to their house I always complain that "we don't get food like this at home!"

Lucy x


Mmm - I seem to recall soggy fish fingers and cold lumpy runny custard. Thank goodness for Jamie!

You just can't beat finding a 'virgin' book at the library - that one looks good. Can't wait to see what you cook up :-)



My copy of 'The Vicar's Wife' is winging its way here from another library in the borough. Hopefully it will arrive soon!

Luckily my school had a really nice make-your-own sandwich bar for the boarders. I think this must be the way forward. Those hot lunches sound horrendous--although Nigel Slater's descriptions of them do make me laugh!

K x


Hi Ali
I'll be getting a copy of this book for sure; I'll try the library. I boarded for year 6 and I also remember white bread! Funny that, were we at the same school!! Love Salx


I thought our school lunches were bad - cheese pie and semolina pudding, anyone? - but at least we were never served tinned ravioli. Ick. Double ick.

I enjoyed reading Elisa Beynon in Foos Illustrated. Might have to browse our library website for a loan ... there's no chance at all it will be on the library bus!


Of course, that should have said 'Food Illustrated'. I'm not sure I'd want to meet an illustrated foo.


Did you get those plates of rice pudding with a blob of jam in the middle? We used to have contests at twizzling the plates right over horizontally and see who could keep their jam on the dish. No question of the rice pudding moving - it never did.

I also recall the little balls of stuffing which went with Thursdays roast dinners. They were the size of a large marble and inedible. We kept them and used them to pelt other girls from upstairs windows.


French Knots

My library has very few up to date books, by which I mean from this decade!
Findus pancakes, not thought of them in years.


I went to boarding school too and yep the food was horrendous. Funny, I read a recent article about the school I went to and the exorbitant fees. One thing they said was that you get a lot for your money including the gourmet chef and fine cuisine served. I looked a little further and it is still the same chef from my school days and there is absolutely nothing gourmet about him.


"we're not Spanish here"...oh, how awful.

The scene you first described reminded me immediately of Hogwarts. (I don't have much boarding school experience.) :)

The Coffee Lady

that post should make me want good bread, I know. But actually it makes me want tinned ravioli and Findus crispy pancakes.


Arctic roll, findus crispy pancakes...oh these bring back memories. I was just thinking about the crispy pancakes the other day wondering if they still make them?! School lunches were always horrendous, the memory of horrible puddings with mint flavoured custard make me gag! I always took in my own sandwiches...

Stomper Girl

Cooking from scratch was big at our house too. Once you've eaten food cooked like that, the other stuff is just unpalateable.

pip of meetmeatmikes

Oh lovely post! I must get that book! I can't imagine eating awful school dinners... I'm a complete cook it from scratch girl, I must say! Keep writing...! I'm sure that the book deal will wing it's way to you soon!!

Cherry Menlove

Ahhhhh, I saw that book in Waitrose at the weekend and wanted to grab it there and then. I was sad that it didn't have more pictures in it though. I only like the pictures!! ;-)



I had my first arctic roll encounter when I was in catered halls at university. Did your school dish up mash with an ice cream scoop?


Don't know why but the cover of that book got me all excited. I like cook books, I guess, as opposed to chef books.


I have obliterated school dinners out of my brain.

No, never happened.

That book looks fab, I picked it up myself a few time... Inspiringly approachable and 'normal'. Whatever normal is these days.

After 20 years in this country I still haven't eaten an arctic roll, should I be happy or sad?


You might laugh, but my daughter's school still serves up Arctic Roll. Her school dinners are like a blast from the past, or as one of the other mothers said 'it is like the Life on Mars of food at this school!'


I loved your story about the boarding schol dinners! Interesting. :)

Annabel Gaskell

Hi Ali, can I blow my sister-in-law's trumpet. She's written a well-received cookbook on precisely this subject, so you can cook your favourite pies, not-pies and puds from your schooldays at home. No Findus frozen pancakes in it either!
It's called 'School Dinners' by Becky Thorn. Here's the amazon link for it... http://www.amazon.co.uk/School-Dinners-Becky-Thorn/dp/1906032440/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1236943363&sr=8-1


This was a blast from the past - Arctic Roll - it was like space food! Our school dinners didn't have such delights though - it was mostly lumpy mash. I saw Elisa Beynon on BBC News a few days ago - it's certainly one to try - well done on finding it in the library! Hope all is well with you. Emma x


Oh lord, school dinner puddings have filled my head ever since I read the post at 'meet me at mikes'...now adverts from the 70's and the catchphrases that became ingrained have my mind whirling.
Tinned ravioli...don't talk, EAT!


oh i feel your pain. eight years of boarding school dinners for me. that's 3 school meals a day and an addiction to red sauce ran through most of it (to cover up the taste) tuna bake was a highlight though...it had crisps on top! seconds all round!

if only the vicars wife had control of the menu. loved this post and would love to have a look in the book. here's wishing our library has it! x


I've not come across The Vicar's Wife's Cookbook but it sounds like my kind of book. Have you read "Toast" by Nigel Slater? Not a cookbook but I was reminded by your reference to Arctic Roll.

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