• Rob Butterfield


Remember when Vesta took us on a culinary world tour?

Photo courtsey of The Advertising Archives.

As a child I was a bit of a fussy eater. My mum was a great cook but very traditional; meat pie on Tuesday, cod in batter on Friday, nice warming casserole on a cold day, roast beef on Sunday. Nothing wrong with that, we always had a good meal on the table and never went without. My dad travelled the world with his job and had tried most cuisines but he was always happy to come home to mum’s traditional British cooking.

We’re talking the early 70’s after all and the shops were hardly full of ‘exotic’ alternatives. UK TV cooking shows consisted largely of Fanny Craddock and Delia Smith – we’d have to wait until the 80’s for the likes of Keith Floyd to shake things up a bit.

That is until Vesta appeared on the supermarket shelves with their take on Indian curry, Chinese chow mein, Spanish paella and French chicken supreme. I think many of us approached them with some reticence. What were these strange dishes with their weird names? Paella, Chow what? Vesta enticed us in with their catchy magazine ads inviting us to ‘Come on a Vesta Package Tour’ – at the time holiday ‘package tours’ to Spain were all the rage for the brave and gregarious!

We tried the chow mein once, I remember that. We didn’t really get it and I don’t think it ever returned to the Butterfield dinner table. But we did get a taste for the Vesta beef curry and rice. If a recall, it did become quite a regular on the food rotor. We felt kind of exotic wolfing down this gloopy curry with the sticky boiled-in-the-pan rice (microwaves were a thing of future witchcraft!). It was bloody delicious.

I’m staggered to see that it is still available today. I’ve not tried it, but reviews say that it doesn’t taste anything like the old stuff. I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing or bad thing to be honest.

Suffice to say, I’m a very different eater now having had the opportunity to try many different cuisines from around the world, both in their place of origin and in some very fine restaurants. I’m currently meat-free in my diet but thankfully advances in food availability mean there’s so much choice of great flavoursome food out there. I’m still a big fan of traditional English fayre but if I’m honest I’m an even bigger fan of flavours from all over the world.

As Vesta once told us; Curry on eating. Have a change, for a change.

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