Over 6 months Bostin Fittle participants have worked together to develop their journalistic, historical and research knowledge
and skills.

Jade Smedley-Baugh – interview

My dad likes pigs feet, but I wasn’t massively into pigs feet. Pigs ears are really nice if you make them really crispy. I love faggots, Mr Brains pork faggots. My mom loves a Sunday dinner, I think that’s why I love a Sunday dinner.

Callum Dutton – interview

I went to Ireland for my Nan’s wedding and it was one of the best things ever. You got to throw potatoes at people. I think they throw potatoes at cars to show tradition. We had a really big potato cake that was amazing. It was about the size of a room. I think they just kept adding on layers every day.

James Wilson – interview

We grew up by a harbour, we ate a lot of fish. My mom and dad worked at the fish market gutting and cleaning fish. It meant that every night  they brought back the left over fish from the fish shop – we had fried fish, scallops, crab and crab sandwiches which were my absolute favourite. Mum used to make fish cakes every Thursday. That was my absolute favourite dish then and it still is now.

Julia Flavin – interview

We used to have a van that came around every week called the Corona van – and it used to sell glass bottles of lemonade, cherryade, orangeade, limeade. So when the Corona van came around we used to run out and choose a different flavour. That would be our treat for the week. We had a huge garden where my Father would grow fruit and vegetables. He also had an allotment so we always had access to a lot of fruit and vegetables. My favourite pudding of all time is a pavlova.

Sarah Cobon – interview

My favourite meal as a child was a dish called cockerleekie – which is chicken and leek in white creamy sauce with croissant on top. My Mom’s favourite meal is mushrooms and eggs on toast and my Dad’s favourite meal is tinned chicken curry. My mom makes a really nice chicken stuffed with cheese, served with crispy roast potato and a sherry sauce. My nan has a German/Jewish background and she used to make Challah bread – a sweet, plaited loaf. She came to England as a refugee at the start of the second world war.

Frances Thompson – interview

I was born in 1939. Living on rations was hard, we had to share everything. You was only allowed ounces, not kilos. You used to have to queue for everything, even a loaf of bread or a bottle of milk. Any food stuff. If me mom could get enough meat to do a stew it would have to last us more than one day so our portions were small portions, just enough to keep us going. We all survived. We all got on. We just had to cope with it and carry on.

Alan Thompson – interview

I was born in 1943. After the war it wasn’t very good. You ate what you were given to eat. Most of it was taytas, cabbage, scraggy meat and anything you could cop hold off really. Never saw an egg and never saw any fruit. Common meals after the war were potatoes, bit of cabbage, root vegetables, any meat you could cop hold off which wasn’t a lot. You never left anything or you went hungry. Or your mother would give it you the next day. It made you healthier, everybody ate healthy food, not junk food. You had a chicken at Christmas if you were lucky. We’d go out Christmas eve and wring its neck. The sixties brought a bit of Chinese, a bit of Indian. The forties and fifties, fish and chip shops were your treat. They were common and cheap, in those days. When takeaways first appeared in the Black Country they were crap.

Session Feedback

One of many recordings made to capture the participant voice during the project. This clip sees the students discuss how they are learning more about the teachers that they see all the time, about how they have lives outside of school too.

Jennifer Smedley – interview

My favourite food to eat when I was younger was a Sunday roast cooked by my mom. My dad only inputted into cooking when he did his curries, and he’d make a terrible mess of the kitchen. My parents liked to eat tripe and onions. I couldn’t bring myself to try it as it looked awful and it smelt awful. My mom used to bake old fashioned suet puddings, egg custards and apple pies. We grew up all looking forward to my mom’s puddings after Sunday lunch. Our kitchen was big but basic, my mom would cook on a daily basis, so everything was fresh. My mother used to work on a market stall, and the thing she would sell a lot of was spotty bananas, to our West Indian customers. We were lucky to have so much fresh fruit and veg due to my mum and dad’s market stall business. If we were hungry, my mum would suggest that we have an apple and a lump of cheese. My mum loved fish. She loved making a suet pudding with apples and bilberries in it and we would call it Apple Gob as once you’d eaten it you couldn’t move, and it would turn the custard purple. Steaming puddings would mean that the kitchen was full of steam, but it was just tradition.

Lydia Hicklin – interview

As a child I think I was always into sweets. When you’re a kid, it’s just more interesting to have sweets. Then when I become a vegetarian I stopped being able to have them. So I stopped eating so many sweets and now I’m obsessed with savoury food. I remember my mom doing sandwiches for my lunch. I used to have Billy Bear ham. It’s not real ham, it’s like kiddy ham, shaped like a bear. And I’d have fizzy pop. We laugh about it now, how unhealthy it was. I go to my aunties now about once a week to have her home cooked food. 

Sarah Harding – interview

Black Country food is tasty, it tends to make the most of what people have – for example faggots are made out of the bits of an animal that you wouldn’t normally have on their own. Our gravy is great – thick, meaty gravy. Our pastry is amazing – lots of suet and fat. There is lots of obesity in the Black Country and that’s because we still eat a lot of the types of high fat food that people used to eat in the 30s, 40s, 50s but we don’t do the same kind of physical activity that they did. They needed the fat intake, we don’t (but still do!).

Jenine McGaughran – interview

A group of friends and I have something called Samosa Friday. We buy a selection of food from a local Indian sweet shop called Chandagar on Bearwood Road. Inside it feels exotic and a feast for the eyes with mountains of samosa, pakora, bhaji and sweets. We usually purchase samosa, bhaji, pakora, meat samosa (although the veg ones are better), dhal, saag and paneer. What they lack in kerb appeal they certainly make up for in flavour

Vivien Small – interview

One of our family celebrations was the annual Sproson party at the Bradmore hotel with all of the family. Frank Sproson, my father’s uncle, was married to Red Emma and used to organise the party. Red Emma was heavily involved in the suffragette movement. I can’t recall what we did at the parties – I imagine the children just waited around to be fed while the grown ups chatted about the olden days.

Judith Oliver – interview

It’s a traditional Black Country dish which is a kind of stew – a cheap food. Certainly in my childhood it was what people ate on bonfire night and my nanny used to make it. It gets its name from groats, which are a cereal. Nowadays it tends to get used more as animal feed. It’s like a grain of barley that has to be boiled and soaked for a long time. It makes a gloopy stew, a bit like pearl barley. With cheap cuts of stewing beef, with a few added vegetables. I use my father’s recipe that he got from his grandmother. I love it. I find it very comforting and homely and it really fills you up. To cook, you have to plan ahead to soak your grains. But once you’ve chopped things up you just throw it in the pan and boil it for a long, long time.

Charlotte Mincher – interview

Even though my nan is in her seventies she still makes the roast dinner every single Sunday. My family, my cousins and uncles all go to her for Sunday lunch, sometimes 12 or 13 of us. She has a rota of meats – either chicken, beef, pork or gammon. At Easter we would have lamb and turkey at Christmas. We have roast potatoes and boiled potatoes and at least three different kinds of vegetables. Peas, carrots, cabbage, parsnips, cauliflower cheese (made just for me) and then the best beef gravy that you will ever taste. Yorkshire puddings obviously, and stuffing if we are having chicken or pork. The plates are massive, I’d be so skinny if it wasn’t for my nan. I love Sundays.

Braydon Houldey – interview

Christmas was really packed in our house with presents, family and friends. The table was always filled with different kinds of foods. My favourite thing was the carrots – my Nan’s special recipe. She’d cook the carrots with the turkey or the chicken and they would be full of flavour and a little bit charred.

John Gibson – interview

We lived in a 1930s semi detached house to start with, and in 1963 moved to an ex-council end terrace. Most of the time we lived in the back room – the front room was kept for best. My dad provided most of the food for the house – he’d grow his own vegetables, had two allotments and two greenhouses and chickens at the bottom of the garden. We had homecooked meals with meat and a couple of vegetables – whatever was available at the right price. For special occasions we would have chicken or salmon. The salmon was tinned and served with salad, usually reserved for Sunday tea. Sunday dinner was an occasion. We lived predominantly in the veranda, which was the kitchen and was over an open drain with a gas cooker – it wouldn’t be allowed by today’s standards. The table wasn’t big enough for us all to sit around so we’d do it in shifts, next to the coal fire. It was quite cold in the winter.

Thomas Smedley – interview

Everything that my mother cooked for me seemed normal, so nothing seemed strange. Especially on a Sunday roast, when she did the cabbage, she used to drain the cabbage water off and I’d drink it, it was lovely. I still drink it now, cabbage water. I drunk cabbage water then, I drink cabbage water now, and I still find it beautiful.

Parveen Mal – interview

When I was younger, I was brought up by my Grandma who is from the Punjab in India. We’d eat things like chapati, curry and samosas with her. My mum tends to cook more western food. My favourite thing to eat is Maryland cookies. I used to really love pasta and Italian food. My mum makes lasagne – we buy the sheets, then make all of the sauces from scratch. Because we like a lot of spice in our culture, we would add a lot of spice to our lasagne.

Catherine Beard – interview

You know it’s Christmas or New Years Eve when the pickled cucumbers are on the buffet, something my nan always did. We lost her recently and so we will carry on the tradition for her. It’s nothing fancy – thinly sliced cucumber in malt vinegar. They go a bit slimy and translucent and it’s heaven. I’ve recently learned that they serve it alongside meatballs and mashed potato in Sweden as a culinary delight