Spanish meatballs and navarin of mutton

It was the pub quiz tonight, despite it being some important football match! One of the questions was about dinners and lunches in the past and my husband and I had a minor squabble about the sort of things people ate in the 1950’s and 60’s. Looking abck over past posts here, I came across this about his mother’s expertise and skill as a cook, and the sort of things she and her colleagues presented to children as their school dinners when she was in charge of the kitchen!

My dear mother-in-law was in charge of a school kitchen in Surrey, and I have inherited her School Meals Service Recipe Book; her edition was the 1966 one, but it was originally published in 1956. I didn’t realise but school meals date right back to the nineteenth century; however it was only the implementation of the 1944  Education Act that school meals had legal nutritional requirements, and was  compulsory for local authorities. Unbelievably there was a huge backwards step, a backwards leap in 1980, when another education act which abolished the minimum nutritional standards for school meals, and took away the statutory obligation to provide meals other than to children of families who were eligible for free school meals.
So what meals were  provided for Surrey children from 1956 to 1980? Well in this recipe book there are some surprises; it’s not all spam and liver and boiled potatoes and suet puddings. here’s just a selection:

  • hamburgers
  • Spanish meatballs
  • salad including watercress, mustard and cress, parsley, mint, cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes, radishes, cucumber and celery
  • jacket potatoes, sauté potatoes
  • three different winter salads, including dates, apples and dried fruit
  • doughnuts and yeasted buns
  • homemade horseradish sauce
  • veal stuffing
  • beef olives
  • curried steak
  • fricassée of veal
  • navarin of mutton
  • goulash


    1. Lois

      Sounds fancy, doesn’t it! I think the ingredients were quite ordinary, just clever cheats to make them more tasty – I will find the recipes and share them, Dorothy! My mother-in-law was a wonderful cook and her name was Dorothy too!

      Liked by 1 person

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