Food memories

Well my last two postings have been a tad reflective and this one’s a bit nostalgic too, but in an upbeat way. I was explaining to Carol why I prefer mini-sized pork pies and to eat them warmed rather than cold. You can see I’m a man of sophisticated tastes. The reason is that when we were kids my mum or nan would take us shopping into town (Blackpool) and we’d queue up like dozens of others to buy some pork pies from the butcher’s called Priestley and Berry’s (later JH Berry & Sons). The pies were all made on site and the real knack was to time it to co-incide with a new batch coming straight from the ovens when they were still hot and at their freshest.

It was something of an institution and I’m not exaggerating to say that there could be a line of thirty-forty odd people waiting to buy them especially on Saturdays. Pies of all sizes were made and they always tasted fantastic with no crappy bits added to the meat. And my nan who could make apple pie pastry like nobody I know, always said the pies’ pastry was just about perfect. My mum/nan would always buy my brothers and I the tiniest ones so we could eat one or two of them there and then. It was pork pie heaven. I’ve scoured the internet looking for a photo image of the shop to show you the queues but cannot find one anywhere, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. And over the years I’ve tasted all types of brands and with all manner of flavourings and toppings yet nothing comes close. But here’s a pic of the latest M&S attempt to woo me to their Branston pickle-topped product…

Good try but it’s just not right is it? It’s not about what you add, it’s what you don’t add that matters M&S.

Anyway I’ve another food memory to tell you about. When we weren’t queueing up at Berry’s, mum would take us to the Abbey National branch on Clifton St. She was the best saver I’ve ever known – every evening she’d ask (or was it demand?) my dad’s loose silver change when he returned home and she banked it every Saturday. That loose change generated the deposits to pay for each of our homes and somehow they managed to own them in the loveliest parts of Poulton’s Hardhorn area. Amazing. But back to the Abbey National. If you’re old enough to remember building society branches (there are hardly any left these days) you’ll remember that they were always quiet places, nicely carpetted, where serious financial stuff took place behind closed doors and glass panels. I can’t fully remember if it was just me and my two younger brothers accompanying mum or whether our baby sister was with us by then but at the least it was 3 lively young lads and beforehand our mum would explain to us in graphic detail what would happen if we misbehaved inside.

Of course I was a good kid and my youngest bro was an angel. My middle brother Dave won’t mind me saying he could occasionally be a tad mischievous and attract a walloping or a few swipes with a hair brush later (it was a different time). On his day he could make the archangels cry. But we always prayed he’d be on good form in the Abbey because if my mum could deposit her savings with the manager coming out to say how incredibly well-behaved we all were, she’d swell with pride and then treat us to a horlicks and dainty finger roll crammed with       chicken and rich stuffing in the adjoining cafe which formed part of the notorious Yates’ Wine Lodge complex. This was a large and strange place frequented by Blackpool’s most discerning and dedicated drinkers where you could get Champagne and sherry on draught believe it or not. It had all sorts of different elements like an American bar and for most of its life it even had its own police station/cells within its premises so you can imagine what the place was like at chucking out time. But during the day its little self-contained cafe was a destination venue with the very best sarnies/rolls in town. And the horlicks came in its own cream-coloured mug with its iconic filled-in handle…

I used to love it, especially the sludgy bit at the bottom of the mug that you’d scoop out with a spoon, but I cannot remember when I last had it. It feels like a hundred years ago.  Do you remember it?

I thought I might show you a pic of the Lodge because it was helluva place. It burned down a few years ago (why does that not surprise me?) and I think it’s been re-established since but it’ll never have the character nor reputation it once did…


But this isn’t really about Yates’; it’s about tastes that stay with you all your life. These food memories of mine are from nearly 60 years ago and they’re still fresh in my mind, even though I can hardly remember what I had for lunch yesterday. It’s weird but there you are. Any food memories you can recall from your childhood?


ps if you don’t believe me that they served champagne in any Blackpool establishment in those days let alone on draught – take a closer look at that semi-circular white sign on the right hand side of the building…


10 thoughts on “Food memories

  1. Great food memories Paul. My favourite food memory was my Mum’s homemade mince and potatoes. In those days a roast lasted a few days, so it was roast beef on Sunday and hand minced beef in some form or another on Monday. How she cooked the mince I just cannot recreate and I’ve tried over the years to do it. The taste was wonderful. I’ve a feeling that the quality of the joint had something to do with it and how she made the gravy with meat juices…..i’m salivating just remembering.

    • Hi Lynne

      Lovely memory. I think we may even have sampled your mum’s super cooking once. I wonder if our kids/grandkids will look back fondly on our cooking skills? Somehow I doubt it ha! My own mum was a great saver but a useless cook, bless her. She did the most fantastic mashed potatoes (and I hope I’ve inherited a bit of her ability there) and a good rice pudding. But that was absolutely it. She could overcook a salad. In fact my dad did all the cooking at home. But she could heat up a super Vesta packeted Indian curry when I returned home late at night with a couple of mates. Such sophistication. Happy memories eh.


  2. Ah man after my own heart. Remember my dad being a Yorkshire man and me about the age of seven or eight being served up a combination of baked beans and peas because he didn’t want to waste them. But the pies, being in Oz they love their pies and roadside cafe offering up 39 or 40 different fillings including oyster pies.

    • Hi Al

      Thanks for checking by again mate. Beans and peas? Unbelievable but nothing was thrown away/wasted back in the day, especially by a Yorkshireman eh. Fancy the idea of oyster pies a lot. Ha!
      Hope you’re well old friend


  3. Horlicks? I love it so drink it regularly Paulie. Food memories ? Quality street in bar form and even though I try to be sugarfree these days I still would love to see it in the shops again.

  4. Mum’s Lancashire hotpot with the crispy sliced potatoes on the top, fantastic considering that she was a Geordie. Chris says that her Nanny Nelson’s bilberry pie was crafted in heaven.
    As to the banks and building societies. We have an account with RBS, but no local branches. Up to last year we had 3 in the area, all closed now. That’s internet banking for you.

    • Hi J

      Hope you and C are well mate. Hotpot and fruit pies, ummm! Do you remember when being the manager of a bank or building society branch was considered a real pillar of the community job? Times change, you’re absolutely right old friend. Fortunately internet banking is so personal and friendly with never a mistake….

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