Coronation chicken & beyond: 60 years of British food explored

With the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee on the horizon we’ve had a look back through the ages to see how food has changed over the last six decades from post-war rationing to the dizzying variety of world foods we enjoy today.

Many of us will be planning how best to spend the anticipated upcoming double Bank Holiday weekend. Whether you’re planning to watch the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee on TV at home, organising a local street party or heading into London for the Buckingham Palace Rock Concert, the procession by the Queen or the River Thames Pageant, one thought that will no doubt cross your mind is “What food is most fitting for the occasion?”

To celebrate the Diamond Jubilee and our heritage of Great British food we have teamed up with Libby London, an exciting new womenswear label, to give you the chance to win 3 days of delicious Pure Package deliveries. Click here for more information.

At the Queen’s Coronation in 1953, florist, Constance Spry and chef, Rosemary Hume invented a brand new dish for the Coronation Banquet, which was a mix of chicken, curry powder, herbs and spices in a mayonnaise sauce. The dish was named Coronation Chicken and has stood the test of time as it is as popular today as it’s ever been. Looking back over the past 60 years it is interesting to see what influences have led to the food we eat today.

Food through the ages

Rationing began with World War II but didn’t end when peace broke out. In fact it didn’t end until five years later, in 1954. During these times of enforced frugality, getting the most out of ingredients was essential and simple stews served with vegetables and steamed puddings made with suet pastry were common.

With the 1960s came a new sense of culinary adventure as people began holidaying abroad and returning with a taste for foreign dishes like Spaghetti Bolognese. The 60s also saw the arrival of Chinese and Indian restaurants to the UK.

The 1970s marked two major food revolutions in the UK, the effects of which we can still see all around us today. Mass produced plastic packaging became commonplace and was immediately followed by an explosion of new convenience food including instant coffee, Angel Delight and instant mash potato. Although hamburger chains such as Wimpy have been around since the 50s, the 70s heralded the real dawn of ‘fast food’ as the first McDonald’s opened in London.

The 1980s is the decade where ‘posh nosh’ became accessible to the masses. ‘Nouvelle Cuisine’ became all the rage with its focus on fresh, light ingredients presented attractively on the plate.

The 90s saw an increase in the availability of ‘healthy option’ and diet foods as people became more health conscious. Fast food got a health makeover with the expansion of Pret a Manger and Thai food and tapas restaurants sprang up to meet our changing preferences in foreign flavours.

The ‘Noughties’ have seen us begin to go full circle in our approach to food. An over-emphasis on processed food in previous decades has resulted in a return to the simple principles of local, natural, organic and sustainability.

Convenience and speed are still major influencers but an increased interest in health has seen the traditional ‘fast food’ business model adapted to provide healthier, freshly prepared dishes via chains like Itsu and Leon and by home delivery companies such as The Pure Package.

As we can see food has come a long way over the last 60 years. The Pure Package is celebrating this fact by launching a limited edition Diamond Jubilee Menu which stays true to our very modern principles of simple, ethically sourced, delicious meals with a few nods to our food heritage thrown into the mix.

Example Dishes:

1) Smoked Coronation Chicken Salad with Algerian Rice (The Pure Package’s variation on the infamous Coronation Chicken)
2) Prawn Cocktail Salad
3) Asian Prawn & Noodle Broth