Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A diet imposed by necessity?

The economic picture may be grey but for those of us who seem to struggle endlessly to shed a few pounds, having to tighten our belts could be a blessing in disguise. Perhaps, at the end of the impending recession, our tightened belts will be most becoming. (One must live in hope!)

It is said that the nation was really healthy durin
g the years of rationing and food shortages, so I've picked out this book of wartime recipes and advice to see what we might live on for the next year or two.
I'm afraid there isn't a recipe for potato peel pie but potatoes feature a great deal in the book. There is even a character called Potato Pete who gives the occasional pep talk, sometimes in verse:
Song of Potato Pete
Potatoes new, potatoes old
Potato (in a salad) cold
Potatoes baked or mashed or fried
Potatoes whole, potatoes pied
Enjoy them all, including chips
Remembering spuds don't come in ships!

As you can see, people were encouraged to use oatmeal to supplement the flour ration. The government subsidised oatmeal and oat flakes so that they cost the equivalent of less than 1p per pound in today's currency.

This was the weekly food ration for adults. According to the introduction to We'll Eat Again, not all items were available in all areas so having a coupon for foodstuff was no guarantee of obtaining it.

I am going to try to live on recipes from the book for the next week. I am just off to do the shopping, stocking up on potatoes and oatmeal for the most part! I'm not sure that I want to try dried egg, perhaps I could pretend I have my own hens to provide fresh eggs? I'll let you know how it goes.


  1. I'm fascinated to here how it goes. Recently read 'Nella Last's War' which was a real eye-opener on wartime conditions and cooking. BTW she did have hens! AliB

  2. I saw the dramatisation of that on television with Victoria Wood playing the part of Nella brilliantly. I hadn't realised there was a book as well, I must look it up.
    I'll be writing something about my 'wartime diet' tomorrow.

  3. Found the book very different to the TV thing though I didn't watch it all - a fascinating character in the writing who leaves us with some intriguing gaps to fill.

  4. My, this takes me back to my childhood. My gran kept chickens in the back garden and they dined on boiled up potato peelings and oatmeal.

    Suet pudding was the big thing - savoury with bits of pork from pigs' hocks or trotters - and sweet with prunes, raisins in spotted dick. If any were left over, it got fried.

    Bread and dripping was a standby in lean weeks, as well as "pobs" - a mixture of bread chunks soaked in hot milk and sugar.

    I remember well the dried egg. Frizzets was the brand name and it made fab omelettes.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  5. Hello Ladyluz and welcome. I had forgotten all about 'pobs'. I have never heard it mentioned by anyone outside of the family so I thought my mother had invented it. Thank you for that little trip down memory lane.

    I was born in November 1945 so my memories are of the 'austerity years.' My mother always said that there were far more shortages in the 8 years or so following the war than during the war. I'll be considering that and a few other aspects of my week's experiment tomorrow when I do a summary of my experience.


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