Sarah and Jo go back to school…
They say that your sense of smell is one of the main triggers in remembering things from your past, emotive and nostalgic – most of us can smell liver and bacon, boiled cabbage and Birds custard and be instantly transported back to our school dining hall. Today’s children will be more likely to reminisce about a curry made from locally reared meat, fresh bread or a braised bit of brisket, as we discovered when we were lucky enough to be invited for lunch at Sexey’s School in Bruton, Somerset.
According to government guidelines, our children, if not taking a packed lunch to school, should be eating high quality meat, poultry or fish, a wide range of fruit and veg, bread, other cereals and potatoes every day. They should not be served any fizzy drinks, crisps, chocolate or sweets and should not have more than two portions of deep fried, battered or breaded food in a week. I’m sure we all remember Jamie Oliver’s program that highlighted the nutritional down falls within schools so we have him to thank for these improvements.
No doubt all schools are doing their best to adhere to these guidelines but some are really going over and above – and not just in the private sector. Sexey’s school in Bruton is a state comprehensive with an amazing ethos in terms of food miles, nutrition and the social elements of dining together. We were delighted to stay for lunch with Irfan Latif, the Head Master, and were impressed to see teachers, maintenance staff and pupils as well as various other clerical member of staff all dining together. The manners and interactions really demonstrated that lunch time is a proper social experience to be enjoyed, not endured, by everyone.
The chef has worked in London and is clearly passionate about flavour and standards, not just fuel for school. Using fresh ingredients, all locally sourced, the roast beef we were served up really tasted homemade – I must say the roast potatoes and gravy would rival my Mother’s (that is an accolade not easily achieved!) With hot and cold options, fresh bread, various veg accompaniments , hot and cold dessert choices and fruit, you could be mistaken for thinking you were in a restaurant and the taste would certainly affirm that!
Those children that take up their state boarding placements are lucky enough to dine three times a day with continental as well as English breakfasts served with toast, fruit and cereal also available. No doubt the evening meal is just as delicious and nutritious…… No school runs, no cooking, no washing up – I’d like to board there myself!
In years to come I’m sure these children, and many others that attended schools across the country, will find the smell of a proper homemade beef stew, chilli con carne or fresh pastry sparks up just as much nostalgia as cabbage does for us!