And now for Something Slightly Different: we will have an overall theme for this week: the food of World War II …
Today, Monday March 20th …
The Times of London on this day in 1940 reported a breach of the wartime Rationing Order:
“ … an employee of the Food Control Committee saw a Rolls-Royce car drive up the Messrs. Kay’s shop in the High Street, Watford. A chauffeur left the shop carrying a large cardboard container, the flaps of which were widely open and containing blue bags … Mrs. Reekie … was subsequently seen by officials of the Divisional Food Office, who told her that they had reason to believe that she was in possession of about 1 cwt sugar …“I paid Kay’s manager two guineas; I did not get a receipt” she said. Mr Temple said that this was not a technical offence. The sugar ration was enough for 140 people for one week."
That greedy little act cost Mrs. Reekie ₤75. She could probably afford it.
Food may have been plain and uninspiring during the war, but there is no doubt that an awful lot of Britons were better fed than before, because the abiding principle and watchwords were “share and share alike”. The authorities meant it, and Rationing Orders were enforced.
Most of the newspapers’ reports of breaches seem to concern offenders from Britain’s rich and powerful. Strange that. Lots of possible explanations. Later in the year it was Sir Percy Laurie unlawfully obtaining a new ration book (fine ₤550, costs 35 guineas), Lady Sligo “obtaining” a pound of butter from “friends” in Dublin (fine 40s. costs ₤3.3s), the Mayor, Aldermen And Burgesses of Wembley for supplying food without a licence (fine ₤150, costs ₤21).
Mrs. Ordinary Housewife couldn’t afford to “obtain” extra anything, but found ways around the shortages with the help of “Food Facts” leaflets from the Ministry of Food, radio programs such as “The Kitchen Front”, and of course the everlasting housewives recipe-swap network.
Golden syrup was a useful substitute for sugar.
4 oz self-raising flour or plain flour with 2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons warmed golden syrup
¼ pint milk or milk and water
Sift the flour or flour and baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Heat the syrup and milk or milk and water, pour over the flour and beat well. Pour into a well greased 1 lb loaf tin and bake in the centre of a moderately hot to hot oven for 30 mins or until firm.
Tomorrow: Beige meals.