Breakfast has been the subject of the last two posts, and as it is an intriguing (and inexhaustible) topic, I am of a mind to continue with it for perhaps a few more days.
In both World Wars, wheat conservation was a huge issue. There were several reasons, not the least of which was that every available ship was required to transport troops, not agricultural products. There was also a strong belief that what wheat was available should be fairly distributed amongst the Allies.
In the USA, the obvious substitute was corn. A large part of the responsibility of saving wheat and using corn or other substitutes obviously fell to the housewives of the times, and large amounts of newspaper space were given over to exhortations to acts of housewifely patriotism in this regard.
The New York Produce Exchange ran a "Corn Bread for Breakfast Until the End of the War” campaign during WW I “as a practical method of increasing the supply of wheat available for the Allies.”A New York Times article in June 1917 reported on the official statement from the Exchange under the header “Corn Bread to Help Allies”. In part it read:
“Eating corn bread for breakfast may not - on the face of it – appear to be either an act of sacrifice or service contributory to winning the war. It is, however, a very definite and effective form of service to that end, and if the propaganda can be spread far enough to enlist the co-operation of a great mass of the people, it will help mightily to solve the crushing problem which is now facing the Food Administrator of the United States.
If there could be a complete substitution of corn and other cereal products for wheat bread on the breakfast table of the nation, it would increase our exportable surplus of wheat by 150,000,000 bushels. This sould solve the immediate problem of wheat for our Allies.
We suggest that special efforts be made to enlist the patriotic women of the country for the idea, and its house to house promulgation.”
… We urge that each one adopt the habit in his own household, and that he begin today.”
Now, we have had stories before on the “wheatless” days of WW I, and we have certainly had several recipes for cornbread and muffins, corn puffs, and other corn concoctions such as Johnny Cakes. Here is an alternative corn dish that would be perfect as a bread substitute at breakfast, from Meatless and Wheatless Days(New York, 1918)
Belgian Corn Fritters.
1 ½ cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup sugar
¾ cup milk
2 egg yolks
Corn scraped from 2 ears cooked green corn.
1 teaspoon melted fat
2 stiffly beaten egg whites.
Mix and sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar; add the corn, milk, egg yolks, and melted fat slowly, stirring constantly. Fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites. Cook like pancakes on a hot greased griddle, turning until a golden brown on both sides. A piece of bacon or pork rind may be used for greasing the griddle.
Quotation for the Day.
We breakfast at seven on beef, potatoes, tea, coffee, new bread, and butter.
Isabella L. Bird, A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains.
Corn fritters!! I suspect these are "Belgian" because of the stiffly beaten egg whites. I've tried so many recipes for corn fritters, trying to duplicate the ones I remember as a kid, but not quite succeeded yet. Here's one more.
I love how the usual "he" pronoun is used even though they're addressing women:
"We suggest that special efforts be made to enlist the patriotic women of the country for the idea, and its house to house promulgation… We urge that each one adopt the habit in his own household, and that he begin today.”
Interesting. Probably the way it was always done in those days.
Gigi - I am sure this was how it was done in those days; the man was the head of the household, so it was "his", but the little woman actually did the work.
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