The Garlic Revolution:

25 years of change

Henry Becket

'Garlic!' said one respondent, a middleaged middleclass woman, with horror, in answer to my question. 'He won't even let me have it in the house,' she said, speaking of her husband, 'It's French, and it stinks!'

And that is pretty much the way it was in the 1970s, when I first started attending consumer research groups. The British by and large liked their food bland, not foreign, and not 'tampered with', in their terms. Even if it sounded exotic or flavoursome, you can bet that it was 'toned down' to suit the British palate. If you ever tasted Cook in the Pot Chilli con Carne back then, you will know what I mean. To score a hit in convenience foods the big food brands marketed what Colman's of Norwich used to call 'Anglicised Ethnicity'. Packet mixes of Ragout of Lamb were outsold 50:1 by Sausage Casserole. And did you ever experience anything less continental than Colman's French Mustard, then a mainstay not just of Middle England dinner tables but public houses the length and breadth of the land? Even the chattering classes were, after all, only then beginning to emerge from the era of sweet, factoryblended table wines.