Tuesday, 27 May 2008

We'll eat again

Watched Giles Coren and Sue Perkins surviving on War Time Rations, corenwith all the stuff you would expect from such a


Potato Pete, and jokes about snoek, and 'mock' foods of all kinds. Why did she have to look SO grubby all the time, though? Surely their soap wasn't rationed that much!

The doctors concluded at the end of the week that the pair of them were actually healthier - and that Brits ended the War as a generally fairly healthy nation [that's the ones who didn't lose their lives because of it, of course] The Wartime diet was low in fat and sugar, high in fibre, and generally Good For You. Perhaps, Bob said, WE should live on rations for a week?

This was perhaps not a wise comment, from the man who put this book in my Christmas stocking!victory It is a collection of all the government wartime food information pamphlets. I plan to try out some of these nourishing recipes over the next few days. It's also probably not wise of me to blog about it - we have some very generous church members here, and if they suspect I am not looking after the Pastor properly, they may turn up with clothing coupons and Woolton Pie for him on Sunday!

I think I would find it hard to manage on just the basic rations of the 1940's. So much of our regular everyday food wasn't dreamed of then - well, certainly not by 'ordinary' families. Yogurt, sweetcorn, red peppers, croissants, muesli - things I buy every month. 

When they refurbished and re-opened the Cabinet War Rooms a few years back, Marguerite Patten gave a lecture on Wartime Food. vcook patten Liz and Steph arranged tickets and the three of us had a fabulous evening. MP was almost ninety then - but she stood for an hour and a half and gave a really entertaining lecture. Her book is also full of wonderful recipes.

My friend Marie commented that my lack of gardening ability might cause a problem regarding the supply of vegetables - but I think that I would just have to barter skills  [I will sew you a winter coat from your old blankets, and knit your socks, in exchange for onions and tomatoes from your garden...]

The key principles seem to be 'plan ahead, use what you have, and avoid any waste' - which is generally my kitchen strategy anyway. So tonight's meal involves individual ham and egg flans [using left over scraps from the ham joint we had at the weekend] boiled potatoes, and salad, followed by 'coffee creams' [made with coffee left over from breakfast] All the books extol the virtue of salad, and the extra vitamins which you gain by not cooking veg, but eating them raw.

According to my book, the rations [which did vary throughout the War] were approximately these [for one person for one week]

bacon/ham - 100gvictory

meat - to the value of 1s 2d [6p!]

butter & cheese - 50g of each

margarine and cooking fat  - 100g of each

milk - 3 pints, plus one tin 'National Dried' per month

sugar - 225g

preserves - 450g every 2 months

eggs - 1 per week plus equiv 3 dried eggs

tea - 50g [those aged 70+ got an extra tea allowance!]

sweets - 90g per week

PLUS 16 food points - to exchange for 1 can meat/fish, or 900g dried fruit, or 3.6kg split peas/pulses etc

vegetables and fruit were not on ration - assuming you could find them in the shops [dig for victory, grow your own!]

This doesn't seem like very much food to me. I think I really do take the stuff in the fridge, freezer and cupboard for granted sometimes. The habit of saying 'Grace' before meals is a good one - it means I am constantly reminded of God's Grace in providing my daily bread - and my responsibility to be a good steward of the world's food resources.


  1. Now in my family, one of the most treasured hand-me-down recipes is the Ministry of Food Rissotto recipe from 1947 (according to my mum; which meant we ate it decades before it was trendy to eat rissotto!)

    Per person....
    2oz cooked rice
    1 tomato skinned and chopped
    half a medium onion, chopped
    1oz grated cheese
    salt an dpepper
    oil for frying.

    Soften the onions, add tomatoes and seasoning when all is soft stir in the rice and coat thoroughly. Add cheese just before serving.

  2. Thanks for this one - MY Mum believed that "Rice Was Just For Puddings!" served any othe rway was considered Foreign and Suspicious!


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