PERHAPS it’s down to the nights drawing in and the arrival of damper days and nippier nights.

Or maybe it’s the lockdown effect, when comfort eating became a distraction from all that was miserable about the pandemic.

Glasgow Times: School dinners in the 90s

Whatever the reason, ‘nostalgia food’ is all the rage as we rush to recreate school dinners and family favourites from our past.

During the first few months of lockdown last year, internet searches for banoffee pie more than doubled, while more of us were searching for bread and butter pudding recipes online. Even Spam got a look in.

According to Speciality food magazine, Waitrose reported sales of rice pudding were up, and the Co-op revealed demand for packet desserts was surging, with sales of dried trifle up 738% and custard powder up 336%.

Dried trifle? Yum.

The Covid-inspired comfort eating trend shows no sign of abating, according to chef Stuart Leslie, who runs classes in ‘retro’ cooking - albeit with a modern twist.

“Everybody had to have a go at cooking during lockdown because there was nowhere to eat out, and nothing else to do,” he smiles. “Coming in to winter, we start thinking about traditional dishes like steak pie and it makes us happy.”

Stuart, who is head chef at Cook School Scotland in Kilmarnock, says his parents inspired his love of food.

“They were good cooks and always encouraged us to eat well,” he says. “My gran was a great baker, too, so I was lucky to grow up in that environment.

“I remember our house always smelled amazing, suet dumplings, steak pies, pots of soup, lasagnes - back then, in the 80s, lasagne was almost unheard of but my mum used to make it overnight, 12 hours in a slow cooker.”

Glasgow Times: Stuart Leslie

He laughs: “Sounds odd to say it, I know, but there is nothing better than waking up in the morning to a fantastic smell of lasagne cooking.”

Stuart grew up in Ayrshire and the US, and he trained in London before joining the Costley & Costley Hotel Group. He became head chef of The Cook School Scotland in 2017. He lives in Ayrshire with wife Emma and sons Alexander, seven, and three-year-old Archie.

His menus for the Cook School Scotland ‘demo and dine’ events include old school favourites such as boiled egg and soldiers, prawn cocktail, beef wellington and Cook School ‘etta, a very sophisticated take on that famous layered chocolate and ice cream dessert which was all the rage in the 80s.

A ‘Back to the Future’ session also promises some ‘timeless classics’ - duck a l’orange, chicken kiev and chocolate sponge...all of which are bound to bring back memories for many.

“We have tried to give these dishes a modern twist - so the eggy soldiers come with brioche and the ‘etta is made with beautifully tempered chocolate,” explains Stuart.

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“Food is what brings people together and creates memories, we all have our own memories of growing up and the dishes we loved.”

It is hard to imagine the children in this photo wanting to relive their semolina pudding and mince and cabbage school dinners, but you never know...

*What are your favourite foodie memories? Get in touch with Times Past - email or write to Ann Fotheringham, Glasgow Times, 125 Fullarton Drive, Glasgow G32 8FG.