Having reminisced yesterday about the delights of the sweet things from my childhood you don’t see any more (apart from pink custard), I turn your and my attention now to the savoury end of the gustatory spectrum.

Rissoles. Not seen these in years. They looked a bit like potato croquettes, in that they were sausage-shaped with flat ends, and coated in breadcrumbs, but the filling was (extremely cheap) minced beef that was heavily spiced to disguise the nastiness of the meat.

Not to be confused with faggots. You can still get them. They’re like meatballs made with added offal, in a gravy so thick you can stand your fork up in it. I loved these as a child, not least because the company that made them was called Mr Brain’s. Bit of irony there eh?


I rather imagine these are unknown as a foodstuff in the US. That would be a bit of a marketing faux pas.

Tinned marrowfat peas. Not seen these for years. I think they were dried peas that had been cooked and tinned before they went mushy*. They were a lurid green colour that suggested the presence of some toxic food dye. On Norwich market, you can go to Reggie’s Tea Stall and buy a dish of peas, and a bit of bread, for very little money. Generous sprinkling of chilli vinegar, and you are set to fight the misery of a raw November day**.

Specials. Where I was brought up, you could get these in chipshops, and my mum did a mean version of them at home. They were slices of potato dredged in seasoned flour and deep fried. Not exactly one of your five a day. They were so dense they had their own event horizons, but boy, you knew you eaten them. And they were cheap, so with a family of six to feed they made sense. And they were yummy.

Ox tongue. Every year my mum boiled an ox tongue as part of the Christmas menu. Fantastic. You don’t really see this any more, unless you ask your butcher specially.

Elder. The lining of a cow’s udder. Not very nice, a bit like tripe in that it tasted of boiled knitting. Sweetbreads. You have to hunt for them too. Lungs. Don’t see them any more either, but back then they were freely available in the UCP Tripe shops. This was a chain that sold nothing but the bits of an animal that now end up in dogfood or downmarket burgers. Their signage was a rather bilious yellow with magenta lettering.

There used to be a chain of linen shops in London that used the same colour scheme on its frontages. Always made me do a double-take.

*You can still buy mushy peas

**Back in the old days, Reggie’s was the matriarchal domain of one Joyce Yallop, whose surname I appropriated for a shady character in my detective novel, Blain. At the time she was the women’s British shark fishing record holder.