The phenomenon of World War II “British Restaurants” was a feature of a blog post some years ago, and today I want to add a little more to the story.
The following article was run in a number of newspapers around Britain and in Australia in 1942, including the Cairns Post (Queensland) on July 8, 1942.
AT BRITISH RESTAURANT.
London, July 6.
A young airman and his bride, who is a N.A.F.F.I worker, held an austerity wedding reception on July 6. The cost of all the food for the 20 guests totaled 7/- [7 shillings] at Swindon’s newest “British restaurant” – one of the many of these restaurants where meals are secured very cheaply, now open in industrial areas. The menu was tea at a penny a cup, tomato and lettuce sandwiches a penny each, a variety of fancy cakes 1 ½ d. each. The maximum price of the Board of Trade’s new austerity wedding rings is ₤1/1/-.
[N.A.F.F. = Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes.]
Instead of giving you a recipe for tomato and lettuce sandwiches, I decided to go to the opposite pole of the sandwich world, to a decidedly non-austere sandwich ingredient entirely suitable for an informal wedding breakfast. The recipe was recommended in The Times a mere three years before today’s story, and a mere few weeks before Britain declared war on Germany.
This is quite delicious and has a most unusual flavour.
Pound together four filleted anchovies (which have been soaked a minute in boiling water) with a remnant of chicken, white game, or rabbit, three ounces of butter and a seasoning of mustard and cayenne. Sieve carefully and add a little finely chopped tarragon and chervil. These two herbs are essential. There must be no parsley. Sprinkle with Parmesan. This can be eaten like butter and spread on toast. It also makes a delicious sandwich filling.
The Times, July 17, 1939
Do you perhaps have your wars a little mixed up?
OOPS! I do indeed: a cut and paste from another story: corrected, thanks Shay!!
That is a very austere lunch indeed, a sign of the great sacrifices Britons made to secure victory in the war. At least this one was non-fatal, but still.
The N.A.A.F.I is a very interesting body. It was a catering organization set up by the Defense Ministry to provide inexpensive food for serving military and their families. I have a letter in the TLS in the last couple of years which draws attention to a wartime meal offered at one of the big hotels, I think the Dorchester, in '45. I found the details in a cookery book by the late Jehane Benoit, dean of Canadian cookery authors in my view.
Mme Benoit recounted that an excellent meal was made of "NAAFI sausages" and canned fruit, peaches I think, with a sprinking of curry power, served on toast strips. Many years ago, before the Internet, I had read this and thought "NAAFI" must meant navvy, a term in England, now obsolete I believe, meaning workman, thus, the kind of sausages a working man would favour. I knew the late Alan Davidson, acclaimed author of books on seafood and its cookery (and co-founder of the academic food journal Petits Propos Culinaires), and he said, oh no, she meant the N.A.A.F.I. and explained to me what it was. So a little story Janet about another wartime austerity meal.
Thankyou Gary, for sharing that lovely story!
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