June 9th, 1956


FROM THE ARCHIVES:Cookery columnist Monica Sheridan adopted a no-nonsense approach to advising readers how to get value for money in the (economically) lean 1950s. - JOE JOYCE

LAST WEEK I promised I would tell you how to feed a family of six on the very best of food with the slimmest of budgets.

I know, as well as this head is on my body, that many of you will turn from this article in disgust because I am going to ask you to do things that are sometimes troublesome or unusual, but I offer no apologies. You can take it or leave it.

All of you who have been to France and eaten delicious food in little bistros will say: “What a pity we can’t get this sort of food in our cheaper restaurants at home!”

What a pity you can’t get these things in your own home, and never mind the restaurants. Would you go out and buy a hare for 4s. 6d. and bring it home and cook it for your family?

You could feed 12 people on a good hare, or you could get two dinners for your family of six at 2s. 3d. a time. Is that expensive?

You don’t know how to cook a hare? Woman, you have a cookery book. Your family wouldn’t eat it?

Hare, like oysters and caviare, is an acquired taste. It is the dish of an epicure. Go ahead and become an epicure.

Nobody working on a tight budget can afford spring chickens. Did you ever think of buying pigeons? Three wood-pigeons at 1s. 6d. each will feed a family of six-and feed them well.

Not everything in a butcher’s shop is expensive. Buy two sheep’s heads. They will cost you 1s. each.

Steep them until all the blood has drained out of them. Remove the brains, which you cook separately.

Boil the heads in flavoured water until the meat is tender: pick it off the bones, and (together with the tongues and the cooked brains, served with a delicious sauce) it provides a light meal for your family – and you have a fine pot of stock.

What’s wrong with a young kid? You nearly all have relatives in the country, where kids can be bought for 7s. 6d. (sometimes much less), and are often used only for the skins.

Young kid is delicious, rather like lamb. And yet there is a stupid prejudice about it in this island. It is not good enough for the men and women of Ireland. You’ll go to Italy and you’ll eat donkey salami, and you’ll turn up your nose at kid.

Now let’s tackle the fish problem. Working on a tight budget, only a fool would buy plaice or sole.

How many of you have ever bought a gurnet, or a red mullet or a black pollock? Any of these fish can be bought at from 1s. 3d. to 1s. 6d. a pound.

Jewish housewives, who could teach you and me about fish, are almost the only people who buy them, and it is thanks to their good taste that these fish appear in the fishmonger’s shop at all.