Jam roly poly and spam fritters in my day

HANDS up everyone who remembers semolina!

If like me, you were a child of the sixties, you will be able to recall the taste in an instant, but try describing it and the texture to someone today – as I attempted recently – and you will fail hopelessly.

At school, it was served with a dollop of runny strawberry jam – we used to joke that they were the drips of blood from where the cook cut herself shaving.

For me, semolina was one of the delights of school dinners, along with chocolate crunch pudding with chocolate custard, spam fritters, jam roly poly with pink custard, spotted dick and treacle pudding.

All sadly now gone due to changing tastes and lifestyles.

Not all school dinners were nice.

Salt beef, mashed potato with luminous lumps, green sticky cabbage, and prunes are memories I still cannot erase.

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Dinner ladies used to stand over you while you ate – to make sure you didn’t leave anything.

My memories of those meals were rekindled as I had lunch with the youngsters at Nacton Primary.

It was great fun with the children all keen to tell me about their morning’s lessons, chat about their treehouses, playtimes, homes – and one boy offered to teach me how to “get free stuff from vending machines”, though his fantastic explanation turned out to be a feat of remarkable imagination rather than any criminal mind!

There was no dinner lady Gestapo, just lovely caring staff, and a cook who prepared a wonderful healthy variety of meals – no surprises on the day, but menus sent home two weeks in advance to let the youngsters choose.

I had roast pork and veg, and apple crumble and custard, and the ingredients all did very few food miles with the fields of the farm around the village supplying the fruit and veg. The cook even bakes the bread every day.

All in all, it was very different from my school days.

? Read my full column each Wednesday in the Evening Star’s special FX eight-page weekly pull-out devoted to the Felixstowe peninsula.

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