Mum's Cooking

UK: Are today’s parents really more adventurous cooks?

A new survey claims to show that British home cooks are more adventurous than a generation ago. The Birmingham Food Fest has released the results of a survey it commissioned, claiming it shatters the myth that British “mums” (somewhat sexist to limit it to that demographic, but they questioned 1 000 mums) only serve up fast food and ready meals to their families. In fact, it says, today’s mums know 25 per cent more recipes than mums of the seventies and eighties. The study shows that in reality, modern mums know 21 recipes off by heart – and although they favour British cuisine, are happy to try their hand at more difficult dishes from across the world.

Mums aged 20 to 35 regularly serve up meals such as Mexican fajitas, Chinese vegetable stir fry and chicken tikka masala to their partners and children.

But 30 or so years ago, mums were more adept at producing meals such as meat and two veg, pork or lamb chops and shepherd’s pie.

Emma Gray, Marketing Services Director for Birmingham Food Fest, the city’s new 10 day gastronomic celebration due to take place next month, which conducted the study of 1,000 mums, said: “The findings completely dispel the myth that today’s mums aren’t particularly into their food, and have other priorities they consider more important than cooking.

“But the opposite is true, mums actually love to cook, love to see their families enjoying good hearty meals, and mums are becoming more adventurous with their cooking than ever before.

“Today’s mums aren’t afraid to try their hands at producing more exotic delights – inspired by eating out, celebrity chefs and foodie events – which originate from places such as India, Thailand and China.

“Mums of 30 years ago were unlikely to consider something as ‘out there’ as stir fries and curries; it just wasn’t as common place as it is today.”

The poll shows mums of 30 years ago had a repertoire of 17 dishes which they knew well and cooked on a regular basis for their children.

Jacket potatoes, fishfingers and chips and chicken casserole were all regularly dished out at dinner times.

And while today’s mums cook many of the meals they once enjoyed as children, they have a slightly more varied menu, which includes homemade pasta dishes and homemade pizzas.

Indeed, whereas 70 per cent of modern mums can’t remember eating anything other than British cuisine as a child, 61 per cent claim to be more adventurous in the kitchen than their own mums ever were.

And 84 per cent of today’s mums think it is really important to encourage their own kids to try as many different foods as possible.

The same percentage are happy to serve their family meals which originate from all over the world.

As the survey shows, the rise in cookery based television shows has almost certainly influenced the types of meals modern mums are prepared to cook.

Four in 10 mums of today take tips from celebrity chefs, and 33 per cent have a bookshelf full of celebrity recipe books.

Almost a quarter of today’s mums are inspired by visiting food festivals, food events and farmers markets. And the surge in food-related websites has also prompted mums to rethink their menus, as information about food is now more accessible than ever before.

The survey shows 57 per cent of mums aged 50 and over admit their own children cook a wider range of dishes for the family now than they ever did.

Emma Gray for Birmingham Food Fest continues: “Mums of thirty years ago very much had to rely on word of mouth and their own inventiveness to produce meals, and as such were more likely to cook the same things over and over.

“Although mums of this generation were brilliant cooks, and relied on scratch cooking methods to feed their families, it meant they weren’t as knowledgeable about foods from different countries.

“Today’s mums have grown up with a culture of eating out and with a wealth of information at their fingertips have a real desire to impress both family and friends with their cooking abilities.”

Comments The Guardian: “The top four are merely the same dinners slightly shuffled. The new additions are those fajitas, a “Chinese stir-fry”, homemade pizza, chicken tikka masala and steak and chips. Pork and lamb chops have sadly lapsed from the typical maternal dinner in the UK. Everything else – lasagne, shepherd’s or cottage pie, toad in the hole, omelette, chicken casserole, sausage and potato, fish fingers and chips, fish and chips, burger and chips – is broadly as popular as it ever was.”

1.      Spaghetti Bolognese
2.      Roast dinner
3.      Sausage and mash
4.      Jacket potatoes
5.      Mexican fajitas
6.      Meat lasagne
7.      Fish and chips
8.      Meat and two veg
9.      Sausage and chips
10.    Shepherd’s pie
11.    Pasta and homemade sauce
12.    Fishfingers and chips
13.    Chinese stir fry
14.    Cottage pie
15.    Omelette
16.    Homemade pizza
17.    Burger and chips
18.    Chicken Tikka Masala
19.    Toad in the hole
20.    Steak and chips
21.    Chicken casserole

1.      Toast dinner
2.      Spaghetti Bolognese
3.      Jacket potatoes
4.      Sausage and mash
5.      Meat and two veg
6.      Shepherd’s pie
7.      Fishfingers and chips
8.      Chicken casserole
9.      Pork chops
10.    Sausage and chips
11.    Cottage pie
12.    Meat lasagne
13.    Omelette
14.    Fish and chips
15.    Toad in the hole
16.    Lamb chops
17.    Burger and chips