When the houses in this part of Walthamstow were new, in the 1890s, most cooking was done on a range that used coal as a fuel and was done from scratch. With no refrigerators, either in houses or in shops, food shopping had to be done every day or two – more often in summer.
The milkman would call three times a day, so that there would be fresh milk for each meal. And in hot weather, it was not safe to keep meat or fish for more than a few hours.
Tinned food such as peas, pineapple, peaches and corned beef was available. Baked beans in tomato sauce had yet to make an appearance, but margarine was in the shops – this was the hard variety.
Victorian Walthamstow could offer much take-away and street food. Queen’s Road featured a fried fish shop, and there were several others in the High Street. Fish and chip and pie and mash shops were very common. And in the market there were stalls offering baked potatoes, roast chestnuts, coffee and sarsaparilla. Sarsaparilla was a soft drink, the late Victorian equivalent of coca-cola, and highly popular.