Baroness Jenkin is right. Get over it

8 Dec 2014 at 19:25

Now I appreciate that this will really piss some people off, but Baroness Jenkin was right. Some of the poor do not know how to cook. This is an historical problem. My folks and their folks were brought up in the East End of London. Looking back it would seem an horrific childhood. In my mum’s case it was seven to a bed with a father who was a boxer who practiced on her mother. In 1905 she had the courage to divorce him which in those days was courageous. But they all stuck together. And before the days of welfare putting food on the table was a problem. Mothers knew every wrinkle. On a Saturday evening my mum would go to the bakers and get a bag of stale biscuits for a penny. They scoured the markets and got good deals. They ate. Not like princes but well enough to share a meal with one child from the orphanage every Sunday.

The art of making the best of what you could obtain has always been the way the poor have eaten. Go to Italy and France and realise that was is now haute cuisine was basically how the poor ate. Pomme Boulangere is just potatoes and onions shoved in a baker’s oven when it was cooling down after the last bake of the day.

The trouble is that in this country families have been fragmented. Often single mothers are products of other single mothers. The handed down art of cooking nutritiously and cheaply has been mostly lost. In the days of terraced housing mums would be just a few doors down and would always be about help out in cooking and looking after the kids. Society has changed.

Years ago I used to appear on KILROY and other television shows discussing this. A nutritionist would appear and show healthy a cheap food that could be bought from the market at a fraction of the cost of a supermarket. She would be looked on as if she had just been beamed down from another planet. That was in the eighties. We haven’t moved on.

I think it is quite appalling that someone as fundamentally decent and socially aware as Ann should be forced to apologise for something that is true. But a difficult truth.

This has nothing to do with benefit policy, nothing to do with food banks and everything to do with common sense and education. It’s time we taught mums and dads how to cook.