School Dinners

pink custard

Not everyone liked the meals provided when they were at school, especially if they were state educated. I always felt that I was the exception that proved the rule, because I rather liked mine. I especially liked the puddings, of which I think this was one of my favourites. Certainly, showing this picture to a few good friends led to near universal smiles and mumbled “oh, pink custard”.

Looking at it, this is probably one of the cheapest and most basic puddings a school kitchen could have produced; plain vanilla sponge cake accompanied by custard made with strawberry milk (and perhaps a little extra pink food colouring to make sure). There’s nothing to it. Yet it regularly provoked a race to finish your bowl so that you could go back and nab the very limited second helpings – it really was first come first served with those. I don’t think I ever managed to get seconds, I was too busy eating all the cabbage.

Even now, an uncomplicated pudding such as Tottenham Cake (plain madeira sponge topped with pink icing) is my husband’s absolute favourite thing. He loves it. He doesn’t love the fact that he can only get it in one branch of Gregg’s, but that’s his own fault for being a fusspot. He also recalls the sponge with pink custard from his school days and immediately started badgering me to make him one. (He’s never eaten my baking; if he had, he’d know better than risk eating it). And my daughter still eats it at school now, although she much prefers the chocolate one.

And am I right in thinking that every so often we’d get a banana flavoured variety, or did I just make that up?


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