Thursday, 15 April 2010

Childhood memories - tastes

This is the third in a five-part occasional series focused on my memories of childhood – more specifically what each of my senses recalls from more than 60 years ago when I was around five years old. I’ve excluded the highly personal (such as, yes, the taste of mother’s apple pie) and concentrated on tastes that might strike a chord with readers.

1. Nothing ever tasted quite like sherbet licked out of one’s own probably grubby hand. There were a variety of ways eating sherbet. Dabs, sweets on a small stick which you licked and coated in sherbet, or more usually liquorice straws. These never worked and as a consequence the sherbet ended up deposited in your hand. To this day I’m still partial to ‘flying saucers’ – round rice paper sandwiches containing sherbet.

2. Bubble pipes were a cheap way of keeping children amused. The bubble solution was prepared simply by my mother mixing a soap detergent such as Tide or Omo in a small bowl with water. The taste of the bitter, abrasive detergent on a child’s lips and tongue is like no other.

3. My own children don’t believe me and I’m not prepared to experiment but I’m certain I remember eating cornflakes with hot milk and sugar. The cornflakes congeal and take on the consistency of soggy, tepid, cardboard.

4. Sips of adult beverages tea, coffee, and especially beer were so unappealing as a child it is a wonder how tastes change to make them palatable as you get older.

5. Salads, usually egg salads, were not complete without the tang of a dollop of salad cream. Sandwich spread sandwiches continued the salad cream theme but this time with unrecognisable crunchy bits.

6. To savour a chocolate bourbon biscuit it was necessary to pull the two sides apart, scrape the chocolate cream filling off with your teeth and then eat both biscuit pieces. But the real treat was eating chocolate cup cakes – the sweet icing first and then the cake.

7. Candy floss and to a lesser extent toffee apples were consumed in fairgrounds and at the seaside. Neither had the appeal of street food such as chips and chestnuts.

8. Much less fun was the taste of the healthy products given to children in post-war Britain. Cold liver oil capsules with school milk; National Health Service orange juice; and tar-like malt extract.

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