Christina Hardyment

Author and Journalist

Slice of Life: The British Way of Eating since 1945

The dramatic changes in our eating habits since World War II reflect the equally dramatic changes in society. Using interviews with both ordinary housewives and celebrity cooks, as well as cookbooks and menus galore, this lively survey of eating habits begins with the lean years of Bread and Bureaucracy, then shifts with the rising star of Elizabeth David to the age of Rock and Roll and Ratatouille, and the start of Cooking for Compliments: dining hatches and hostess trolleys were us. First Chinese and then Bangladeshi seamen who longed for their own food opened restaurants to provide it in the docklands: the scent of them led to a craze for chop sueys and curries that has gone from strength to strength. Environmental and dieting obsessions put guilt on the menu and gave us first Green Cuisine and then Lean Cuisine. As for the Way we Eat Now: exhibitionism rules, with television cooks as celebrated and as histrionic as rock stars and football players; what we eat is now more important than what we talk about over meals. Booming restaurants and ever-better stocked supermarkets make eating a dizzy-making a choice – as modern life itself now is for people young and old.