Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Rita the non-ETA Eater

Brought to you once again by the collection of magazines hidden in my study

In 1976, nothing said creativity and sophistication like a Sunbeam electric frypan. Mum used ours to, well, fry everything she could lay her hands on which was lamb chops about 80% of the time. Even the Sunday roast lamb was done in it with the lid on and the potatoes and onions swimming around the outside in a pool of hot fat, their bottoms getting stuck to the element for me to pick off and eat hours later.

Here though we have a Masterfoods Three Bean Mix Egg Combo which is eerily ahead of its time in that it is designed as a huge cross, indicating "NO! Just don't try this at home if you wish your corduroy slacks to stay in one piece and your net curtains to remain white. NO!"

Clearly too, such an artistic design is meant not just for the kitchen bench but to be brought directly to the table so that all eaters could see just what a treat - visual and oral - they were in for that night.

Later that same year, Streets icecream brought out the Toffee, er, Log. This brown barrell featuring swirls of cream and light brown pretty well echoed the decor of a million kitchens around the country and if served in burnt orange melamine bowls (as ours were) the look was complete.

The taste, on the other hand, was significant only in that it was insignificant. Still, it did help get the Stainless Steel Sunbeam Three Bean Egg Mix combo to slide down.

In keeping with the fashions of the time, you could also opt for Brown done three ways with a pot of pus - sorry, sauce - to dip your meats into. Mmmm hmmm who needs any other colours when you can do like you did in kindergarten art class and mix them all together and arrive at wonderful, delicious and complete brown.

In 1977, Coles had created a New World. No, not one involving the eradication of deadly diseases or the end to all war and conflicts, but the introduction of Farmland Meat. 'Farmland' presumably meant a factory location where animals were dragged in and killed, cut up and placed on styrofoam trays covered in gladwrap rather than a sunny shop filled with rolling paddocks, gently lowing cattle and milking sheds.

And look at how excited Trevor-the-neckless is to be featured in this advertisement. It was either this or be handpicked for the Yorkshire Ripper police line up and at least here he was able to wield a knife without being violently thrown to the floor and read his rights.

Thankfully there were other options to beans, Brown and Trevor's rather slapdash and very fat-laced meat trays - Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Colonel Sanders was still alive at the time and stuff such as raging obesity, sky-high cholesterol and heart disease were still faint enough to be ignored, as was trying to hide 'Fried' in an acronym. What could out-do beans for sophistication and refinement than a grease-spattered cardboard box of unrecognisable chicken pieces? Yep, that's "real goodness" for you!

We had to settle for that until 1982 brought about a revolution. No, not just the official end of Adam and the Ants as a viable form of music but - steady yourselves - the introduction of sliced cheese.

When Mum bought these - Dad would turn his nose up and announce they tasted like flat soap - we kids would hoover them up like after dinner mints (same shape). The old one kilo block of Coon was left languishing, getting blue spotted and sweaty in its plastic coat as we pushed it to the back of the fridge and instead ate slice after slice of Kraft. I can't remember adding bread or anything else to it too often but yes, this changed the way we ate, thought, sang, worshipped, loved, grew, progressed ..... Heady times.

A year later when wearing plastic maps of Australia for earrings was considered de-rigeur, McDonald's decided to tell us that meat potatoes and bread were healthy, especially when reconfigured as a Big Mac. "Have some wholesome McDonald's meals and you're well on your way to a balanced diet." Yeah, in HELL. Even reading this tripe the first time around as a fourteen-and-a-half year old in my mother's Womens' Weekly I knew that I'd rather eat another frypans' worth of three bean egg mix.

All was calm by 1988 when the humble Jatz Cracker was the Easy Entertainer.

I've studied the photo for a while now and can't for the life of me work out what's on those easy entertainers - turkey kidneys? Cat tumours? Tree fungi? Hippo snot? In our day it was French Onion dip or some good old Kraft cheese cunningly ripped into four with a thin slice of gherkin on the top, ready for a raging night of Porky's II on beta video or some games of Pong on the black and white TV in the pool room.....

Rita here perhaps sums up the effects that such foods had on the bowels of those who willingly ate it.

The poor love was out of routine. It was either her diet or her busy busy life. It sure as hell couldn't have been those 23 cheese slices and Kentucky Fried bucket, could it? Or three wholesome Big Macs and a bowl of three been mix?

Ford Pills would set her straight; help her back out a toffee log of her own one of these days. Then she'll be able to do a semi plie without frightening her students or shattering the mirrors.


Hannah said...

Oh, come on, here I was thinking that the Toffee Log really didn't seem so bad, and then you mentioned "pus" and everything after that point just seemed revolting to me.

Clearly, I need some of those scary pills.

Kath Lockett said...

Me too!

Actually I remember how 'special' the Toffee Log was at the time - we had it on very rare occasions (ie an adult's birthday) and it was very carefully divvied up. Still didn't taste like much though, but we all bought into its sophistication: in those days, anything not homemade was 'special'

Andrew said...

Good laugh. We only used our Sunbeam frypan for poaching smoked cod. Not sure how, but it had a warped bottom and was not at all suitable for frying eggs in. The lard tended to pool in one place. I can remember Coles New World and Farmland being around well before 1977. I wonder if Kentucky Fried Rabbit was an urban myth or true?

Baino said...

Gawd when I first started cooking, my mum went back to do her Midwifery course and I was 16 I used to make deep fried spam with cheese in the middle and bread crumbs on the outside! Can you imagine! I am cranky that Wagon Wheels got smaller!

JahTeh said...

The Ford Pills, mainstay of Mrs 'so thin she'd disappear turned sideways', my neighbour of many years. I would watch her put away a 10 course Chinese banquet and wonder why I could only eat entree and still put on weight. Now that such things are spoken out loud, I realize she was bulimic and the Ford Pills were never far from her hand.
That egg and bean mix is disgusting and the toffee roll could never replace a two-in-one ice-cream.
WV is boorr, sorry I do go on when it's food.

River said...

I had one of those frypans, it was so very handy, for so many things.
I remember 3 bean mix. Now everything is 4 bean mix with most of the beans being chickpeas which I hate.
Streets icecream? Wasn't that stuff mostly sugar? I remember it being awful, no matter what they coloured or flavoured it with.
Hmmm, brown food. Not so bad if it's on the same plate as a colourful salad I suppose....
Remember when Kentucky fried chicken was called Kentucky fried rabbit? Because a lot of people insisted that chickens didn't have ribs. Clearly, they'd never butterflied a chicken.
I remember sliced chees well before 1982 I'm sure. It wasn't individually wrapped slices then, just sliced and packed and the slices all stuck together and were impossible to separate without tearing them. They melted really easily and quickly to become grilled cheese on toast, with or without tomato. We used them sometimes for breakfast, we'd toast the bread, spread it with cramed corn, sprinkle with chopped cooked bacon, top it with a cheese slice, then grill until the cheese melted. The kids always preferred theirs without the creamed corn.
Jatz-still an easy entertainer.
(although I prefer Ritz)
My mum took Ford Pills. I heard from someone they turned your wee blue.
WV=gamycl=gammy cycle=need for Ford Pills?

drb said...

tinned mussels, John West is the best.

Lidian said...

How they loved the colors brown and beige in those 70s ads!

deepkickgirl said...

Gee, those ads take me back. Food styling has come a long way since those days. Your average three year old would do a better job of "plating up" these days thanks to a constant diet of Masterchef.

It reminds me of RiceARiso. My friend's mum always had it and I thought it was the height of sophistication when she'd make it for dinner.

Plastic Mancunian said...

G'Day Kath,

Cripes - it reminds me how dreadful stuff was back in the 70's.

Toffee log - UURRGGHHH!!!




P.S. Word Verification: "Elycorn" - what comes out if you try to cook corn in one of those electric bloody frying pans.

mele said...

yuck yuck yuck!!!!!

I'm so lucky my mother is European.Never had to eat food fads.Got fresh eggs, al dente vegetables in garlic and handmade oil, handmade pasta and sauce, pizza rolled from dough expertly kneaded.

Sounds fancy, but my grandparents couldn't afford meat, so we ate vegetables and eggplant parmiagana instead. All standard-fare Italian peasant food...As a child I ate bread dipped in olive oil because Italians don't use butter. Now it's trendy!!! Crazy.

Kath Lockett said...

Mele as you can see from all the above comments you and your family were way, way ahead of your time

DKG - Rice a Riso - Yes! And 'vesta' dinners!

Andrew, our Sunbeam ended up with a warped bottom too, so that it became only good enough to heat up pies before winter netball games

Deep Fried Spam, Baino? Makes bread fried in lamb fat seem healthy.....

JahTeh, yeah I suspect that 99% of Ford pills weren't taken to 'get a routine' going; more like a virulent flush out on a daily basis.

River, I think you're right about the cheese slices but the ad - and the time that my Mum decided to buy them was definitely 1982. We weren't exactly ahead of our time in the groovy new food department.

Drb - yep, there's definitely some tinned mussels or smoked oysters on those 'easy entertainers'!

Elycorn, Plasman, crossed with my word verification 'Cribbe' - taking three good ingredients, mixing them together and producing excrement. Always brown in colour.

Nicole said...

Wow advertising has come along way.... or has it???

Louise said...

Oh the memories. So many shades of brown. I too remember being intoxicated at the wonderment that cheese slices brought. And I do believe you're right with the Jatz- smoked oysters were de rigeur as topping. My Mum had one of those Sunbeam frying pans, but then didn't everyone's mum?

Louise said...

Oh and Ford pills. Haven't thought about those in decades. I always wondered what they were as a kid. The ads made them seem glamorous. You can still get them and they're just senna. It all seems so ordinary now.

nuttynoton said...

my standard fare was fried spam beans and chips or beans on cheese on toast, the luxury of it all and then grapes were something you had if youy were lucky in season!!
oh happy days??

happy Christmas all

Lad Litter said...

That's a great post Kath. Although I think you werea bit hard on Trevor the Neckless, the Ford Pills were a brilliant denouement.

And I saw you in The Flem-Ken News too!

Colleen said...

I laughed so hard reading this!

My Mum took ford pills and I never really knew what they did until now...never crossed my mind to check.

Kath Lockett said...

Nicole while we still have Harvey Norman and Brand Power on TV I'm not sure that advertising has come too far at all :)

Louise, my Mum still has her Sunbeam frying pan and used it during the Christmas festivities. Old habits die hard.

Nutty, as per Baino I can not even contemplate fried SPAM. Even my Mum didn't inflict that one on us (fried ham 'steaks' topped with a ring of tinned pineapple featured a lot though).

Thanks Lad. I didn't get a copy of the Flem-Ken news so I hope it was kind......?

Aw shucks Colleen - with a comment like that, don't be a stranger to this blog, you hear?

Anonymous said...

Omg...... Toffee Log was like a once a year treat in our house....before it was "fashionable" to feed ur kids only organic foods etc my Mum did & so when we actually got something that tasted good we devoured it! There was 5 of us kids so there u used to b BIG arguments about whether it was evenly sliced!!! Lol