I WAS interested to read about a study suggesting why children dislike vegetables. Researchers from Birmingham’s Aston University found that that parents’ facial expressions may be to blame.

Dr Katie Edwards, lead author of the study, said: ‘If a child sees their parent showing disgust whilst eating vegetables, this could have negative consequences on children’s vegetable acceptance.’

It’s an interesting idea, but I would say it’s highly unlikely that a parent would cook and serve a vegetable they themselves found disgusting.

It is true, however, that parents’ culinary likes and affect kids. Growing up, me and my siblings were never given cheese. Our parents didn’t like it, so neither did we, despite not having tried it I was aged around 40 when I first sampled cheese and, to my great surprise, liked it.

For my generation a dislike of many foods, in particular certain vegetables, stems, I believe, from school meals.

I can still clearly remember the musty smell of boiled cabbage as we approached the local church hall, to which we junior school pupils trudged for our midday meal. It tasted as though it had been on the hob since 8am - it felt like soggy tissues in your mouth.

The greyish mashed potato was only marginally better, if you could overlook the lumps and slightly soapy taste. As for the butter beans, they were like bullets.

Throughout my childhood and early adulthood I hated and steered clear of all those foods. My younger brother too, developed a similar dislike of certain vegetables, no doubt for the same reason.

I don’t like to deride school meals - they are a vital part of the school day and a lifeline for many children. Today they are appetising and tasty, but back in the 1960s and early 1970s, they were anything but.

Vegetables were always overcooked, meat was gristly and custard left the ladle in heavy clumps - for many years I refused to eat custard, even at home. Milk-based puddings: rice, tapioca - which looked like frog spawn - or semolina - were so foul I am still revolted by the thought of them.

I disliked school meals so much my parents arranged for me to walk home for my dinner every day - just under a mile each way.

School is also to blame for many kids of my generation being reluctance to drink milk, other than as an accompaniment to cereal, tea and coffee.

York Press: School milk was often curdled, putting kids off the drink forever. Image: PixabaySchool milk was often curdled, putting kids off the drink forever. Image: Pixabay

At infant and junior school, every morning break, we were given a small bottle of milk each. So far so good. But those bottles were left outside in the sun in summer, curdling the milk. Urged to drink it, we would retch as we did so. In winter it was the opposite: full of ice shards.

I can now just about tolerate a glass of cold milk, but my colleague Emma Clayton hates milk to this day - a legacy, she says, of school.

It wasn’t all bad back then: the sponge puddings - minus the custard - were, I recall, quite tasty.

For me and my contemporaries, school meals only started to improve mid-way through secondary school. A new dining hall brought with it a self-service style cafeteria. Suddenly we had choices, which included a separate, impressive salad bar. Lunchtime had never been so good.

That cafeteria introduced many of us to burgers - which if I remember rightly, were succulent and tasty - in buns with salad, and chicken pieces in what I now know as wraps. It was worlds away from what we had previously eaten. The meat, the mash, the veg - suddenly everything was better.

But those early experiences stayed with me: the overcooked cabbage, the soggy sprouts, the touch liver, the revolting pink-coloured spam squares served with a slice of tinned pineapple - I haven’t touched spam since - those smells and tastes are never forgotten.