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Thursday 12 August 2010

Grated Cheese

Earlier this year I was asked to sit in on a Forgotten Skills Course at the excellent cookery school Thyme at Southrop, the course was run by Darina Allen, patron of the famous Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland, you may know her as the mother-in-law to celebrity cook Rachel Allen. I was sceptical at first at joining in, for on this course you were to be taught how to make bread, butter, yoghurt and a few other things and as I was brought up on a farm myself I doubted I would benefit from such a course.

Well how wrong was I, for Darina who is a character and somewhat of an eccentric had pitched this course spot on. Albeit I know myself and do make some of the things that Darina demonstrated, I still very much enjoyed my day, but more importantly it got me thinking. Why? Is such a course needed, the answer is in the title, forgotten skills, yes our food heritage is at risk and as the national curriculum does not cater for these basic home skills we are in danger of losing them unless people like Darina plug that gap and help to stop the flow of this haemorrhage of skills.

If we don’t have these skills in the first instance, then how can we be expected to pass on our food heritage to our children, I genuinely hope more of you will either attend or run such courses. Only the other day a member of my own family brought home some packets of grated cheese, she knows who she is, so I won’t mention her name (but if she does it again, I'll go and see my divorce lawyer). I was incensed to say the least that a member of my own family would want to purchase grated cheese, why? why? why? I asked myself, as grated cheese deteriates quicker than a block of cheese and can lead to loss of flavour and more importantly I believe it is a waste of money. What I mean by this, is; I checked on the price of the same economy cheese in block form and it was priced at £5.00 per kilo, O.K. that is very reasonable I know for a cheese of this type and I do remind myself from time to time, we can’t always afford Artisan produce. Then I checked on the price of the grated cheese, “Bloody Hell” what a shock! The grated cheese cost a whopping £9.95 per kilo; we had paid an extra £4.95 per kilo for the privilege of someone else to grate our cheese.

Call me a Grumpy Old man if you wish, but surely we don’t need to lose this basic skill too! Do we?


  1. Well, Marc-Frederic, you may indeed be a Grumpy Old Man, but you are absolutely right! Of course, that probably makes ME a Grumpy Old Woman. I don't have children, but I do try to pass along my knowledge of Forgotten Skills to people. And though I'm across the water, I do my bit to preserve British food heritage (my mother's family English).

  2. Hi Jean
    I'm interested in what you are doing, keep it up. I'm looking forward to next Friday already!!