After graduating as a dietitian, I returned to Melbourne to the Technical Teachers Training College in Toorak which I also loved. It wasn’t until years later that teaching was seen as an additional valuable skill for dietitians in helping patients. Teaching home economics to young girls in a low socio-economic area was rewarding. I remember one very bright likeable student, Imelda, who was unable to concentrate or sit still. She would tell me that she was less on-the-go in my class than for the other teachers! Years later I realized how hyperactive she had been and wondered if she had ever been treated for what was very likely ADHD to become the less distracted but competent person I am sure she could have been.
I flatted with my sister and had a great social year. As students we had minimal money to spend on food which meant spending time preparing low cost meals from scratch. By now I was an experienced cook.
I was like many of my patients later just putting up with symptoms such as eczema, hay fever, ADHD, chronic headaches, carsickness and very painful period pain and not seeing any connection between them and the food we ate.
Times were changing in the way women wanted to manage their careers, housekeeping, child rearing and what they cooked. Their changes interacted with what was happening in the food industry.
It is hard to visualise that up until that time ice-cream was only had on special outings as a “cream-between” that is a small block of ice cream between two wafers.
Only a pinch of mixed herbs would have been added to soups or casseroles, both fresh and canned.
And we added vanilla to a cake or dessert by putting in only a drop on the end of a skewer.
At that time herbs and spices were used but not in the amounts that became common into the 1970s.
More commercially prepared foods were becoming available and being used. The load of additives and flavoured food in the 1960s was low from the point of view of their effect on children with ADHD.
There was a gradual shift from 1960s to 1970s to food having just enough flavour to enhance the main ingredients, to various food companies competing with each other to add up to the maximum flavour that the public would tolerate. Everyone really enjoyed having commercial ice-cream frequently.
Take-away meals were very occasional treats as cost was a factor for students. Even those Italian foods, Asian meals, particularly dim-sims, fish and chips, or hamburgers were plain compared to those today. Traditional meals for large numbers were supplied at places like large railway stations, or cafeterias in large variety shopping stores. But adding tomato paste to meals was coming into fashion. I thought I was being very modern adding Tabasco sauce to chicken dishes and our special-occasion prawn cocktails.
I also made my own wedding cake out of what I would now consider very high salicylate ingredients: spiced fruit in a mixture cooked for hours and then allowing the resultant cake to mature for months wrapped in open-weave cloth saturated in sherry. Then it was covered in almond icing to hold in the moistness, and finally iced with royal icing, and decorated.