As a kid I occasionally went into a pub. Alas, I didn't go in on my own to imbibe a pint or two. I went into that dim forsaken corner called the Family Room, where parents who still liked a drink could watch their kids play table tennis or cribbage in a damp space devoid of any charm whatsoever.
I much preferred outside in the beer garden, especially if my Dad bought some snacks. Now in the Sixties and Seventies bar snacks were not sophisticated to say the least. Gastro Pubs were thirty years away in Lancashire and bars were for drinking at and not eating from, C'mon!
So what was on the bar menu back then?
Well, this can be easily divided into two main food groups: snacks and meals, neither of which took up more than a few paragraphs, so they won't here either!
1. Pork Scratchings: the undisputed King of Bar Snacks, pork scratchings was a euphemism for pig in a bag. Which bits of the pig was often hard to determine but the true scratching involved crackling and salt. Anything else was just hoggin' space. Rock hard, scratchings could break teeth or at least induce a Saharan thirst, which could only be sated by several pints of lemonade [I was just a kid remember!]. A true classic, pork scratchings are still with us and remain the King of Snacks.
2. Scampi Bites: with Pork Scratchings you knew that you were crunching pig of some sort. With Scampi bites it was never clear what you were putting in your mouth. They certainly smelt fishy, as fishy as an Orca's blowhole in fact. Too fishy! Just what the hell was in them? Scampi? Really? I wonder. A poor second to the King of Snacks, these sea horses should have been called Orc Hatchings.
4. Ritz Crackers: now I loved Ritz crackers. They were sort of half-way between a biscuit and a wafer. None of the mouth drought of a Jacob's cracker or the grimacing brought on by a water biscuit, Ritz could be popped deftly in your gob and no-one was the wiser. Even better, they came in little cellophane packets containing a handy triangle of soft Kraft cheese and the pies-de-resistance, a single cocktail onion. The whole was completed with a small plastic knife. These were the original munchables and doubled up as party food too.
5. Pickled Onions: no pub bar was worth its salt without a huge jar of pickled onions standing tall next to the tips bottle. Like a lab flask of small brains in formaldehyde, pickled onions were the cherries of pub cuisine, the acid test of a good sesh. I loved getting one sat out in the beer garden and the combination of brine and Tizer was a juvenile rush. Biting into the crunch was like scrumping a vinegar apple. Delicious.
6. Pickled Eggs: often next to the onions, this equally vast jar contained several dozen peeled boiled eggs in brine. Looking like something out of the Easter Bunny's nightmares, I never partook of the pickled egg so cannot comment further.
1. Chicken in a Basket: the undisputed King of Bar Meals, this invention turned up in the beer gardens of Seventies England more than the Bay City Rollers could sing Shang a Lang. I adored Chicken in a Basket when I was out with my folks. Basically it was, well chicken in a basket. The chicken was often either a leg or more often a half bird, together with a few triangles of buttered bread. A small salad garnish was added and voila! The basket was often plastic and doubled as a handy bin for the bones. Simple, delicious and practical bar food!
2. Gammon and Chips: my Mother's favourite sat out with me in the beer garden, this hearty meal came with its own multiple choice question: would you like tomato, pineapple or a fried egg on your gammon madam? Tasty and educational!
3. Mixed Grill: the Cassius Clay of pub grub, only real men like my Dad could handle a full mixed grill, which would comprise of half the meat supplies of the Preston: sausage, black pudding, kidney, pork chop, gammon and a rasher of bacon. For sheer tokenism to the health lobby, a few grilled tomatoes and a fried egg were shoehorned onto the feast as well like plate-crashers. Us kids got sausage and chips instead.
So what bar food did you get as a kid readers?