I remember a time when things were not as good as they are today. I remember those times with a fondness that unjustifiably gives it a worthy place in my happy memories. Why do I mention this?
A smell, a song, a word or maybe just a thought that takes me back to a time when the future was golden and very promising. Being poor was not so bad. Mainly because we did not know we were so. Sure, kids up the street had stuff that we didn’t but by the same token, I recall having things that other kids did not. It was definitely a hierarchy of the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ and we all knew our place. There were many things that one could do to either drag yourself out of the poverty rut or appear to the world around you that you were wealthier than you actually were. One way was to own and race a greyhound.
My father did just that; raced a grey hound at a ‘flapper track,’ which was a sprint over one hundred yards or so in pursuit of a stuff rabbit being whizzed along tied to the end of a rope which was towed by a big wheel spinning jolly fast. Now greyhound racing doesn’t come cheap, as you can imagine. In order to keep, train and race said greyhound something, somewhere had to give. The easy option for any parent is to skimp on the food given to the kids because the little blighters don’t know any better and here is how it was presented to us for the duration of the greyhound’s keep (before it was kicked out for losing too many races). Feeding a racing greyhound wasn’t as simple as throwing down a tin of Pedigree chum. Oh no! Specially prepared food had to be conjured up from fresh ingredients, only the very best as it was an investment – an investment in your greyhound with hopes for a return as winner’s cash (not to mention the gambling) that went with it.
Recipe of the day, for the dog mind you, was Corned Beef, Potatoes and Cabbage. I cannot say for sure why this combination was fit for a racing greyhound but I was never in a position to question it. Carbs, protein, iron, who knows? Now the dog got first pickings and, quite frankly, what the dog couldn’t eat was given to us kids as leftovers. Absolutely true I tell you and in memory of those days, I conjured up that most familiar meal just now. It looks jolly appetising to me, but maybe from the comfort of your cucumber sandwich, middle class perspective, it doesn’t to you…
In keeping with my food, beverage and cookery aspect of the blog, I present the culinary delight (chef has certainly excelled himself this evening) that is ‘Greyhound Food.’
Now the trick is, because you don’t eat it like that, silly-billy, to mash it all up and fashion it into something that looks like a cake – “Go on kids, get it down ya, yum, yum!” I can her the old fella now, like it was yesterday. ” Eat up or the dog will have seconds!” Once it took on the appearance of a cake, slightly, just slightly, it would trick us kids into believing that it was something delicious to eat. I mean, the dog scoffed it up like no one’s business so it must be yummy, right? Eating it in that state would be downright ridiculous, of course, so mash, mash, mash…
So it was, today I took a trip down memory lane, remembering my siblings, a certain poverty, magical times that now seem full of woe and all the other ‘fond memories.’ of an era probably best forgotten. And the ‘greyhound food?’ Well, it was blooming delicious and boy can I run fast now!
As for the greyhound… It never won a race. No, I tell a lie because one Saturday lunchtime it jumped up on the kitchen table and ate my beef-burger (cheap, processed rubbish, wafer thin, barely containing any beef – or even meat for that matter). Father was livid; why it would never run fast now, having scoffed that crap food (Oh, but it was okay to feed it to us kids though!). Well, down at the flapper track old Streaky came flying in to beat all contenders but because of the burger theft, it was the one and only time dear father didn’t have a bet. Doh!! He later told me he had Streaky to a new, caring owner. I fully believe he smashed it’s head in with a spade, but I can’t prove anything.
And to prove a point, here he is (or was it a she, I can’t remember). Circa sometime in the swinging sixties when everything was groovy and anoraks were hip.
Ramadan has just about come to and end here. The fasting will shortly give way to Eid and the ritual slaughter of a vast number of animals will begin. Traditionally, this is done at home, the slitting of the animal’s throat that is. The government has kindly provided 571 disposal sites for carcasses, which suggest that it is a very, very popular thing to do. Not as popular as Corned Beef, Potatoes and Cabbage, I bet? And not half as tasty either…