I love fruit and vegetables and there’s nothing more attractive than the sight of a fruit and vegetable market. In this part of the Mediterranean there are opportunities galore to buy local produce, with people still offering their extra tomatoes and oranges on the roadside. At my local street market I always seek out an old couple selling produce from their smallholding. They have juicy purple garlic, oversized scarlet tomatoes, huge sweet onions and wonderful glossy aubergines. How can anybody not love vegetables? But it wasn’t always this way…
As a child in England in the sixties, vegetables were the bane of my life, torturing me as they lay unwanted, on my plate. My parents believed in the ‘sit there until you finish it’ feeding method. The mere presence of a pea (which for some reason my father called a ‘green pea’) would make me hysterical, and my mother would put the single pea on my plate and wait for the explosion. It was deliberate torture.
The teachers seemed just as cruel, but looking back it can’t have been much fun for them to have to force us to eat. As an extremely fussy eater I would think up strategies to avoid eating my veg, hiding them under the cutlery and even putting them in my pocket and throwing them down the loo
Sometimes, if the vegetable was too repulsive I would flick it on the floor, which often got me into trouble with the teachers. Even spuds, my favourite growing ‘thing’ were a problem. While winter meant yummy baked and roast potatoes, in summertime we were given new potatoes boiled in their skins with black bits in them which I did not like. Not to mention the dreaded greyish over-boiled cauliflower, evil sprouts, otherwise known as ‘the enemy’ and, perhaps worst of all, soggy cabbage. I honestly cannot remember liking any of the meals they served at school, although I am sure there must have been something.
Another awful moment of the day was milk time. Every morning we were forced to drink a small free bottle of milk. This was neither refrigerated nor heated, so during the summer it would be lukewarm and unpleasantly ‘milky’ and in the wintertime, when it snowed, it partly froze and contained ice crystals, which was also yucky.
In hindsight there was probably nothing wrong with these meals, in fact if someone bothered to cook and serve food to me nowadays, I would be extremely grateful, but at the time, they were a source of great anxiety. How about you? Did you enjoy your school dinners?