Tuesday 5 March 2024

More lovely 1970s pub food

I've not finished with processed pub meals yet. I've some more lovely dried meals for you.

Other dried products. Batchelors Catering Supplies has carried out intensive research into pub catering and to give maximum assistance to the trade have catering advisory service from which brochures, recipe booklets, etc., can be obtained free of charge. Members of this service are also available at all tunes to help and advise customers. There are three recipe booklets, one gives 50 meals using Batchelors savoury mince or farmhouse stew, the next giving 50 recipes for sweets from Batchelors and the third with 50 recipes for entrées from Batchelors ready dishes.

All the products, from soup to coffee, and including quick-dried vegetables, are convenience foods. They offer no shelf-life problems, all being guaranteed for at least 12 months under normal conditions. Reconstitution is by the addition of water, bringing to the boiling point and simmering for varying periods up to about 30 minutes. Additional assistance is rendered in that these pre-prepared foods cater for snacks, simple and elaborate meals and simple and elaborate sweets. They may be made to suit the custom and, in particular, the evening out — when it is a natural thing to go to a pub for a few drinks and a meal not encountered in everyday household catering.

For a simple meal there can be beef curry and rice, chicken curry and rice, chicken supreme and rice, chicken orientale and pilaff rice or spaghetti bolognese. For the more special occasion there is an orientale medley: stuffed peppers orientale, chicken marengo, chicken supreme de luxe, spiced chicken adriatica or savoury polonaise. Sweets have been far from forgotten, for here there are the convenience packs for delectations such as souffle milannaise, apple strudel, apple torte, charlotte royale, sundaes and strawberry delight.
Brewers' Guardian, Volume 99, May 1970, page 60.

Fifty meals from savoury mince and farmhouse stew? That's what I call cooking. Just add water, bring to the boil and away you go. You could even go crazy oriental. It's making my mouth water just reading about it.

Another new development was boil-in-the-bag technology.

A new concept in convenience meals was introduced nationally nearly a year ago by Cerebos Ltd. (part of Ranks Hovis McDougall), under the brand name Cerola, a range of complete meals which are easier to cook than break an egg. The packs of Cerola "Magipaks" meals, which serve either one or two persons, contain two pouches, one of meat and vegetables, another of rice. The two pouches are simply placed in a pan of boiling water and are boiled together for 15 minutes. The advantages are obvious — no preparation, no supervision, no messy cooking pans. Shelf life is indefinite and the packs are light and compact.

The range includes beef curry with rice; beef in a medium curry sauce with vegetables, tomato and sultanas. Chicken curry with rice; chicken in a mild curry sauce with red peppers, peas and sultanas. Lamb curry with rice; lamb in a strong curry sauce with apples, tomatoes, mango chutney and pineapp1e. Jambalaya; smoked ham in tomato sauce with onions, mushrooms, sweet peppers and spices, served with rice. Spaghetti Bolognese — spaghetti with a classic bolognese meat sauce with beef, tomatoes, burgundy wine and spices, served with Parmesan cheese and Paella; rice with chicken, prawns, red peppers and mushrooms in a spicy sauce.

The meat and the sauce are preserved for an indefinite shelf life with natural preservatives, involving the use of lactic acid. This procedure means that the meat and the sauce can be pasteurised rather than sterilised as in canning, and thus all the important nutrients are retained in the food. The contents are sealed in a flexible plastic pouch which allows reheating in boiling water, Boil-in-the-bag meals until now have only been available with frozen foods, where special storage facilities are essential. This, it is claimed, is the first time a range of meat products has been sucessfully preserved in a flexible plastic pouch.
Brewers' Guardian, Volume 99, May 1970, page 60.

Burgundy wine? How posh. Was there real burgundy in the meal? If so, how much?

One thing I've noticed about these processed meals. They almost all come with rice. I guess that was easier to have preprocessed than rice.


Matt said...

I think the lowercase "burgundy" is deliberate here, indicating that it's an inferior wine in the same style rather than the stuff that actually comes from there.

Chris Pickles said...

In other words, you could go out to the pub and get a Vesta curry. No wonder that didn't catch on!

Anonymous said...

The boil in the bag are marginally more appetizing than the dried. Do you have any idea what prices were charged for this stuff? Maybe relative to the price of a pint at the time?

Anonymous said...

I'm not surprised that pubs would offer pre-made food. I'm fairly surprised, though, that it involves such complicated pre-made stuff that needed so much simmering to be ready. It's an odd choice to me to offer full meals that were so likely to be dreary when simpler things like sausages and rolls would be just as easy to have on hand.

John said...

Interesting that chicken oriental came with pilau rice, but the curries got big standard rice, which seems the wrong way round.

petalia paul said...

when it is a natural thing to go to a pub for a few drinks and a meal not encountered in everyday household catering

yes,the ones at home were edible.Unlike the pub ready meal

Anonymous said...

My memories of food in the 70's was everything was processed - in a packet or a can - Smash, canned peas, Angel Delight, Vesta, canned all day breakfasts - so this muck in the pubs would have been acceptable to most I'd imagine, abd the foreign-ness would have made it seem quite exotic. Since most people didn't know what the originals would taste like, if it was awful people probably wouldn't notice - same crap they ate at home, just different flavours. Yum!

John Lester said...

The received wisdom seems to be that food in the 1970s was generally awful. This strikes me as something of a cliché: I am no gourmand, but I have fond memories of meals in those days – many of them in pubs. In the Nag’s Head in Oxford, for example, while the beer was Ind Coope on top pressure, the food was memorable in quantity and value for money. Steak came in three sizes: steak (about 8 ozs); giant steak (about 12 ozs); and massive steak (16 ozs). It might not have been the best quality steak, but for 90p (including chips and peas) for a massive steak (probably around £11 today) it did the job for hungry undergraduates. The Albion at Ludgate Circus (Ind Coope again) served excellent food in the 1980s (I didn’t visit it until then, but I suspect it hadn’t changed since the 70s): fish and chips equal to the best fish and chip shop, and the best steaks I have ever had in a pub – much missed. One aspect of 1970s pubs (at least in south west London) which seems to have disappeared was that quite ordinary pubs would serve surprisingly good sandwiches in the evening if you asked for them. As an example, the Nag’s Head in South Wimbledon (Charrington’s – top pressure again) provided wonderful rare (really rare) beef sandwiches. Again, I don’t think I’ve ever had better (though the Ring in Blackfriars Road came close in the 1980s). Good times.

Anonymous said...

Boak and Bailey have an article showing a Berni Inn menu pre-decimalisation that shows them serving steak, gammon, and fish and chips...all sound great. The packet pub food above not so much. Love the Berni Inn serving Bristol Milk - not Bristol Cream - sherry. Apparently derived from mothers giving the sherry to their infants, according to the interweb. https://boakandbailey.com/2018/08/bristol-and-the-berni-inns/ and https://www.atlasobscura.com/foods/bristol-milk

J-W Maessen said...

Ron – any indication of whether the same ads were running in restaurant trade publications? My bet is they were, and the same crap was being sold on to restaurants as to pubs.

That said, boil-in-the-bag curry is a fixture at Trader Joe's here in the US and was reasonably tasty for what it was the time I bought it.