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Quantock School Cuisine

Classic Dishes

Part of the memory of Quantock School food were some of the wonderful culinary creations that were served up, from the banal to the bizarre. The prospectus mentioned 'variety', but this only happened during the course of a week; after a month of enduring the cyclical Quantock School menu you knew what was coming when, which of course helped you calculate the right time of the week to cobble together those last few pennies to get something approaching wholesome from the tuck shop. This time for me was Saturday evening, when tea was the infamous 'Eggs and Beans'...

Here you will find short descriptions of some of the classic Quantockian dishes... If you can remember any that I haven't included here, you know where to send your email...

Eggs and Beans

The classic 'English' grub, this age-old and yet highly unoriginal dish was thankfully reserved for Saturday teatime. I say thankfully in that Saturday was pocket money day, and that instead of this gastrointestinal nightmare I'd usually have something equally nutritious, such as a Pot Noodle and half a dozen cola bottles. Of course, the popular alternative was toast with either butter, Marmite, or lemon curd - of if you were really weird a mixture of all three.

Sunday 'Roast'

Although not a 'roast' as such, Sunday lunch was palatable, though hardly what one could call nutritious. There was a choice of two 'meat' dishes, with the usual complement of overboiled vegetables. The 'meat' usually took the form of a reconstituted lamb cutlet or processed 'turkey' roll that made Bernard Matthews' version of the same thing look like the main course at a king's banquet. Sunday lunchtimes became exiting for a while when the Head introduced the idea of a healthy alternative, consisting solely of nuts and raisins; as far as I can recall most of us were 'converted' to this vegetarian option, but within a week the novelty had worn off. Discarded beef cutlets were usually retrieved directly from the pig bin for Starsky the dog - and when I once rolled my eyes at his rummaging around in the mix of discarded meat and custard the Head looked me firmly in the eye declaring that it was 'prime meat'. Right.

'Chinese' Sweet & Sour Chicken

This dish was probably introduced to make the Cantonese section of the Quantock School community feel more at home, but this bizarre yet curiously tasty assault on the taste buds was as far away from China as you could get. To those uninititated with Quantock culinary fare, this dish looked particularly unappetising, particularly when it was delivered with an unceremonious plop onto your plate. Some ex-Quantockians have described this dish as being akin to roadkill.

Shepherd's Pie

This was one of my favourite dishes at Quantock; I hadn't tasted anything like it before and nor have I tasted anything like it since. I wouldn't care to think what sort of meat was used, but what is certain is that I always without fail headed up for seconds. Even after I saw a few empty industrial-sized tins of Whiskas by the kitchen door. We always knew that the staff fed the local stray cats - what I was not so sure about was whether us pupils and the cats shared the same menu, especially when the Shepherd's Pie was being served up. That said, even after this I still enjoyed it; after all, eight out of ten owners said their cats preferred it - they can't be wrong, surely?

Margherita Pizza

Ok, it was not exactly like your Mama used to make-a, but they were passable enough. Yes, good old industrially-produced Margherita - OK, cheese and tomato - 4" pizzas served with either chips, baked beans or both. The pizzas were probably the one thing at Quantock you'd want to have overdone - this way the cheese would actually melt properly. There is nothing much else to say except that on one occasion when someone was bringing in a tray of the things they managed to trip up by the dining hall door, spilling the contents all over the floor. Rather than having the mess cleaned up and removed, this hapless individual was ordered by the Head to replace the now cheese, tomato and dining room dirt pizzas back on the tray. Now, does anyone remember what the prospectus said? (If you were that jub who dropped the pizzas, I'd love to hear from you!)

Salad Evening

Wednesday evenings was salad time, perhaps the one time - bar the nuts and raisins experiment - that truly healthy food was on offer. I had never been much of a salad fan, but a couple of lettuce leaves drenched in salad cream was more than palatable, along with a few slices of the truly delicious cheese made by one of the local farmers - although some have argued that it came from a rather large catering company. Nevertheless, being a cheese addict this was one taste of Quantock I'd love to have again.

Thursday Roast

I guess I will be speaking for almost everyone when I say that Thursday lunchtime was the best meal of the week - proper roast beef with gravy and all the trimmings. Unlike the letdown that was Sunday lunch, the meat served up on Thursdays was something you might have had served up at home; the only problem was that everyone liked it so much that the chances of getting a second helping - especially if you were a jub - were pretty remote. Thursday lunches were made even better by the fact that fresh yoghurts were on offer for dessert, usually in either raspberry or black cherry flavour. On many an occasion I'd manage to snaffle two pots.