Posts Tagged ‘wartime food’

A Thrifty Offer: 2-for-1 tickets

December 22nd, 2010 | Comments Off
by Faye, IWM Marketing Team

We wish you a very merry Christmas and hope that your home-grown Brussels sprouts meet with requests for seconds rather than turned-up noses!

But don’t forget that The Ministry of Food exhibition at Imperial War Museum London closes on Monday 3 January 2011; once all those home-made mince pies have been polished off and Great Uncle John really can’t eat any more turkey sandwiches, you may be left wondering what to do with the mountain of leftovers in the kitchen…come along and be inspired by the ‘War on Waste’ that was fought in the kitchens of Britain during the Second World War. Discover some wonderful wartime recipes, and find out how the resourceful 1940s housewife got inventive with whatever she had in the larder…

We’re offering two adult tickets for the price of one when you come and see The Ministry of Food exhibition; simply download this voucher and present it at the ticket desk to claim the offer. And, thanks to our sponsors, Company of Cooks, if you keep hold of your ticket you can get a free tea or coffee when you spend £5 in the Museum Café.

Everything Stops for Tea

July 9th, 2010 | 1 Comment
by Faye, IWM Marketing Team

On this day in 1940, that great British staple – a cuppa, a brew, a cup of Rosy (for the Cockneys among us) – came under the ration. Thankfully, the British government understood the country’s deep need for tea; that anything less than two to three cups a day would strike at the very heart of wartime morale. Action was immediate and swift when war broke out, and tea was dispersed to warehouses across the land. In the event of air raids on London, tea would not be bombed. Phew!

Even so, life on 2 oz a week was far from ideal for a nation that had previously been used to putting the kettle on every time someone got out of bed, arrived at work, had a conversation, returned from work or put their feet up, not to mention the obligatory pause in whatever one was doing at 4 o’clock. The popular wartime song Everything Stops For Tea, featured in The Ministry of Food exhibition, is a jolly homage to the British 4 o’clock tea break.

Tea break

But, surely, this was key to Britain’s wartime survival, because instead of getting withdrawal symptoms from not enough tea in the day, Britain put the kettle on and made sure teatime retained its place in society, regardless of whether there were fields to plough, animals to tend or meals to prepare. The practice of tea o’clock stirred the nation’s spirit and allowed people on the home front to ‘pour’ over their news. We even think that our ingenious 1940s housewives could have rustled up a pretty decent afternoon tea on their limited resources. No need to let standards slip if the vicar’s wife is coming round for tea, is there?

If you really think you couldn’t face a scone the frugal way, ie. without dollop upon dollop of clotted cream, then drop scones are a tasty alternative, and simple too. Here is a recipe we came across in We’ll Eat Again – A collection of recipes from the war years selected by Marguerite Patten:

Sift 4 oz plain flour with 2 level teaspoons of baking powder and a pinch of salt. Add 1 tablespoon dried egg powder then beat in ¼ pint milk and 2 tablespoons water.

Grease and heat a heavy frying pan, electric solid hotplate or griddle. To test if the right heat, drop on a teaspoon of batter, this should turn golden brown on the bottom in one minute. Put the mixture in tablespoons on to the plate and leave until the top surface is covered with bubbles then turn and cook on the second side. The scones are cooked when quite firm.

Our advice is to smother your drop scones with jam, obviously of the home-made variety using your home-grown fruit! One more thing: if you are having the vicar’s wife round for tea, there are certain rules of etiquette that need to be respected, the most important of which is whether the milk should go in before or after the tea itself. George Orwell, writing just after the war, caused a stir by declaring that it should be after, but, for this most delicate of matters, we have to refer to that bastion of British civilisation, Debrett’s, who tell us that the milk is poured first. And whatever you do, don’t dunk your biccies in polite company…. Happy teatime!

The Ministry of Food

February 10th, 2010 | 18 Comments
by Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall, Author

Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall

© Nick Harmer

When I was asked to write a book for the Imperial War Museum about food during the Second World War I was assailed by memories from my childhood. 

As I was born in 1939, I cannot clearly recollect the early war years, but I remember eating my greens and drinking my milk for the sake of starving children in Russia. I also recall brains appearing on my plate, mince cooked in a variety of ways and, for pudding, many variations on a fruit theme: pies, tarts, crumbles, fools and mousses. The Ministry of Food exhibition and book focus on how wartime restrictions affected the lives of ordinary people: how they tended their vegetable gardens and allotments, how they shopped (and queued) for food, how they cooked and how they ate.   

Because we lived on a farm and had the benefit of a large vegetable garden, I was blissfully unaware of rationing until we returned to London when the war ended. It is often forgotten that food shortages continued, and in some respects got worse, during the post-war period. The day sweets ceased to be rationed in 1953 was an occasion for many children to rejoice, but it was not until June 1954 that meat and bacon finally came ‘off the ration’ and rationing was at an end.   

The Ministry of Food book cover   

The phrase ‘Dig for Victory’ still resonates today. A new food revolution is gathering pace, a grow-your-own movement inspired by anxiety about our own and our children’s diet, and the state of the national economy. We can be thankful that, instead of fighting Hitler, we are merely combating recession. But, like our forebears, we are fighting on several fronts. Our war is also against climate change, against waste, against junk food and unhealthy diets leading to obesity.   

We may not want to try some of the more unconventional recipes from the rationing era (such as mock goose, steamed fish roll, eggless pancake or turnip jam), but others need surprisingly little updating to make delicious meals at very little cost, using seasonal, fresh ingredients when they are at their best and cheapest. The story of food during the Second World War shows what can be achieved when the government and the population have the same goals and share the will to achieve them.   

The Ministry of Food – Thrify Wartime Ways to Feed Your Family by Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall, published by Hodder & Stoughton, is available to purchase now from the Imperial War Museum Online Shop.