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Vintage Campus Cuisine

'Simple Scoff - A Cookbook' cover
'Simple Scoff ' cover

Originally published 3 September 2003

I’m a hopeless cook. I try very hard and generally end up burning, over-boiling, or undercooking almost everything I lay my hands on. Even cornflakes aren’t safe. So, in my days as a student at Warwick I was the last person who would, or even should, contribute to a University of Warwick cookbook. I can say the same for all of my fellow undergraduates at the time. But in 1972, it appears our students really could cook – so well in fact that they published a recipe book.

Peter Griffiths, the Chairman of the Midlands Association of Chefs, was searching around his loft recently when he uncovered a book called “Simple Scoff”. Realising it was a 30-year-old University of Warwick publication he sent it with his compliments to Graham Crump, Chief Chef with Warwick Hospitality.

The book was published in 1972 by the University of Warwick and distributed at the princely sum of 35 pence per copy. It is a collection of recipes from students and staff living and working at the University in the early 1970s and was edited by, amongst others, Doris Butterworth (now Lady Butterworth), wife of the University’s first Vice-Chancellor.

The staple diet of today’s students – anything goes so long as it is served on toast – is nowhere to be seen. Instead the book is brimming with soups, curries, souffl?s, and risottos. It even has a recipe for pig's brain! It has a surprisingly international flavour and offers meals made out of leftovers, and meals requiring exotic and interesting ingredients.

However, it still tastes of a student cookbook from the 1970s. So, with that in mind we offer you a sample of “Simple Scoff”, how to boil an egg by Phil Mead, who was on University Council in 1972:

“Select largest egg from plastic package in fridge on Saturday night before retiring after usual Saturday night binge and place in empty saucepan on gas stove. This is to prevent explosion of frozen egg on immersion in hot water the next morning. At 7 a.m. Sunday run hot water tap until water hot then fill saucepan to top of egg. Egg will crack. Light gas and bring water to boiling point. Look at watch. Egg must be boiled for 4 minutes 8 seconds. This time must be estimated because cook will have forgotten what time watch showed when boiling procedure commenced. Water will be cloudy and froth up because of leakage of egg content through the crack. Read Sunday paper and forget that boiling time may have exceeded. Remove egg hurriedly from saucepan with combination of spoon and fingers which will be burnt. Tip egg into eggcup and smartly decapitate egg, top half of which will prove to be empty. Yolk, if any, will run down sides of cup and cause sticky mess. Eat remainder garnished with burnt toast and proceed to golf.”

What were you cooking in 1972? What do students cook today? Share your thoughts through the insite forum.