When Scrote was very small, he was extremely un-adventurous in his tastes. He didn't like anything peppery, bitter, sour, strong or visually disturbing. For instance, the strange appearance of mushrooms was enough to ensure that young Scrote also disliked the strong taste as well.
Even today Scrote finds it difficult to stomach the more evolutionarily-distant sea-life as food. However, as one of four equally Scrotey brothers, a tendency to bolt his food before someone else bolted it for him developed very early, so the young Scrote quickly also learned to dislike surprises in his food.
It is difficult now to remember how different attitudes to food were in the 1950's. Fresh foods nowadays, like garlic, root ginger, sweet peppers, aubergines and courgettes, were then literally unheard-of or considered dangerously un-English. Such ingredients were virtually unobtainable, except in strange-smelling foreign shops. Even as an adult, if Scrote wanted bean-sprouts he had to grow them himself.
During the 1960's the Scrote school was told to get more variety into its cabbage & stodge, and duly became alarmingly adventurous with its concoctions. Scrote well remembers his classmates scrutinising with considerable suspicion what appeared to be a tray full of white wire, and on being told that it was 'proper' spaghetti, assuring the stunned cooks that it couldn't be because real spaghetti was soft & orange.
We were all amazingly rude about school dinners then. In the early days a Grace was said before the meal was started. We sat there with heads bowed and dutifully mis-intoned, "For what we are about to leave, may the pigs be truly thankful." or "This piece of Cod, which passeth all understanding, be with you, and remain with you, now and forever, amen."
Although school food tended to include boiled cabbage and potatoes remarkably often, we would in fact race to finish our meals so that we could go up for seconds and a good deal of ingenuity and effort was also devoted to putting the more sensitive eaters off their food so we could eat it for them. Generally a thoughtful discussion of their dinner's former life-style and possible diseases would do the trick quite quickly. Actually Scrote loved school dinners. Bland and probably largely devoid of vitamins, they were reasonably filling, utterly reliable and hardly ever contained unpleasant surprises.
Scrote first learned to really cook when, as a student, he became forced to eat and even survive his own preparations. Up till then these had extended little further than being able to fry things. Scrote subsequently shared a condemned house in the red-light district of a university town with a number of other students. It was initially decided to take turns at cooking, and from time to time Scrote had to produce food that everyone would eat and pay for the costs of the ingredients. Even today, Scrote reckons almost any fool, armed with some expensive cut of meat, wine, cream and pre-prepared vegetables, can produce something that is still reasonably edible after their ministrations. But it takes a cook to make food that is nourishing and delicious from what is available and can be afforded. Even in 1970, it was something of an achievement to be able to produce a filling palatable main meal for under 10 pence a head.