My family story in 10 objects… number 3

Obect 3 – my mum’ (or maybe my grandma’s) Be-Ro flour cookery book

This is what I wrote about this handy little book a little while ago:

I am lucky to be able to remember far back into my childhood, my babyhood even because I can remember being in my pram at about a year old! From my first memories I can remember being in our kitchen while my mum,  cooked. She was a great baker and the Be-Ro cookery book was her Bible, along with Mrs Beeton, of course. Mum told me that her mother, my grandma Ida had had a copy of this little book, and as a child Monica had thought the little girl on the front was her.

bero 1 001

The Be-Ro girl


Monica aged 11

As soon as I started living on my own, I started cooking; I think the first thing I made was a walnut cake, I’m not sure I used a Be-Ro book, but I remembered the method exactly having watched and helped my mum so many times when I was little.

This edition is the 17th reprint, I now have the 32nd and use it so often I’m on my second copy and in need of a third! I still use Be-Ro flour, I still think it’s the best, and I wonder if either of my children will follow the tradition?

Wholesome, simple and economical, how true!!

Be-Ro was founded by Thomas Bell in 1875, in a little shop and bakery in Longhorsley in the north-east of England, just north of Newcastle in 1875.  He had tried for a long time to make a successful self-raising flour, and eventually after much experimentation he succeeded, and produced the world’s first!

Although I have written here about baking, many of my memories about my family involve producing food in the garden, cooking the food – me with my parents, my children with us, my extended family being together and eating together.  Food, – buying it as well, cooking, and eating are constant topics of conversation, whether at home or in other parts of the country or abroad. Visiting different food shops and markets, to look as well as to buy, is something we do wherever we go. Going to different restaurants and then trying to copy the dishes we have enjoyed at home, adds to the enjoyment of eating out.

I’m sure food has always been important for us going back generations, not just as nourishment and fuel for the often arduous lives of my forebears, working on the land as labourers, working in shipyards and on railways; my dad’s mother in the 1920’s would take a skewer and stick it into a bulb of garlic then thrust it into meat to flavour it – and she left school at thirteen and worked as a servant and cleaner in a convent, so she had no fancy recipe books or tradition of exotic food at home. In my dad’s family there even had to be two varieties of sausage served at breakfast, Dad and his father preferred Powters (the best) his brother, sister and mum preferred Musk’s (also pretty good)

This little book, this little old recipe book,  instructs the baker, but for my family, it represents much more.

To find out more about Be-Ro:—be-ro-flour


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