Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Rations for one.

The amazing work of the British Food Ministry during World War II continues to provide much food for thought over half a century later. Week after week throughout the war and for years afterwards (rationing did not end completely until 1953) they churned out information and advice to the general public on rationing and many other war-related food issues. We could with advantage heed some of that advice today – particularly the advice relating to avoiding waste, reducing our meat consumption, and growing as much as possible of our own food.

Weekly Food Facts leaflets put out by the Ministry were reproduced in the newspapers, and today I want to share with you the advice in one edition from mid 1944. Food Facts leaflet number 231 gave good advice about using leftovers and spreading out the meat consumption, but it was particularly addressed to those living alone. It was a lot less common for someone to live alone at this time than it is now – and we are told that the number of solo households is increasing dramatically, so perhaps reviewing this advice is timely.

Upon receipt of a postcard request, the Food Ministry would send, free of charge, “ideas for a week’s menu for one person living alone, with recipes for many of the dishes mentioned,” but Food Facts leaflet 231 had some good advice in itself.

“It’s less easy to manage on a single ration than it is to cater for a family when one has three or four Ration Books to juggle with, but given imagination and ingenuity, it is possible for those with one Ration Book to avoid monotony and eat well. Sometimes you will buy your meat ration on one piece, pot-roast it, and eat the remainder cold with some appetising trimming. Sometimes you will grill or stew your three chops, or make pie, pudding, and casserole out of your 1s.2d. worth of stewing steak. A vegetable stew with dumplings, or a cheese and vegetable pasty will provide you with another main meal. Bacon Hash, a risotto of diced liver sausage, a Pilchard salad, or Scotch eggs or Mock Hamburgers are other good dishes for the man or woman who lives alone.”

Most of the Food Facts leaflets included recipes, and number 231 was no exception. I give you two of them for your interest today.

Bacon Hash.
Ingredients: 2 slices bacon, ½ lb potatoes, sliced, ½ lb mixed vegetable slices, 1 onion, sliced, pepper and salt, ½ pint stock or water.
Method: Remove rinds from bacon and cut into small pieces. Cut bacon into larger pieces and fry all together until fairly crisp. Remove from pan. Put in layers of sliced potatot, vegetable and onion and bacon, finishing with potato. Season well. Pour over liquid. Bring quickly to boiling point then simmer gently for one hour.

Mock Hamburger.
Ingredients: 1-2 oz.mince, 2 oz. grated raw potato, 1 oz. oatmeal, seasoning, 1 chopped onion, 1 teaspoon chopped parsley.
Method: Mix all the ingredients together and fry spoonfuls in shallow fat for 10-15 minutes.

Quotation for the Day.

We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink, for dining alone is leading the life of a lion or wolf.


Anonymous said...

I just found your blog and love it. Maybe because I love food history; we could learn a lot of it. This is Sergio from México.

The Old Foodie said...

Hello Sergio - I am delighted that you found the blog and like it -I hope you keep coming back for more!