My husband wasn’t exactly thrilled at the idea when I asked him to join me in my second week of eating wartime rations, but give him credit, he’s agreed to play along. It helped, I think, that I told him he could ‘pretend to eat at the Savoy’ every lunchtime when he was at work and rationing would be limited to meals at home. Still, he was a bit anxious when he walked through the door this evening to discover what his rations would be. Homemade burger, bubble and squeak, mashed carrots, followed by apple crumble.
Phew. Relief. He finished all his main course – “I don’t remember my mum ever making bubble and squeak” – and asked for seconds of the pudding. (And there’s still some left over for my lunch tomorrow.)
When I did my food shopping for the week this morning, I discovered two things: 1) my bill was a fraction of the usual weekly cost. 2) I only shopped the ‘perimeter’, which is the healthiest way to shop.
The one thing that put my bill up was the meat for one of my dogs. He’s very elderly (15) and reluctant to eat anything now unless it’s homemade. (He’s eating the equivalent of all my meat rations – and then some – in one day!) It got me to wondering what happened to pets during the war. When I did some research, it made for some very sobering reading. Over four hundred thousand dogs and cats were euthanized in the first few days of World War 2.
Humans aren’t the only ones to make sacrifices during wartime. If you’re ever in London, check out the Animal War Memorial in Park Lane close to the junction of Oxford Street and Bayswater Road. It’s a very moving tribute to those proud, beautiful animals.
To lighten the mood, and given my husband is lunching at ‘the Savoy’ all week, here’s an ‘eating out’ memory from Anne:
Restaurants were still open and supplied meals, but the plates were not well filled and if you didn’t get there early you would find most things scored off the menu, and were left with some sort of ‘savoury pie’ of mixed veg and herbs with a few breadcrumbs scattered over the top. Then there were the ‘British Restaurants’ set up by the Ministry of Food; I never ate in one but the word went round that the meals were barely acceptable. Fish & Chip shops got a quota of fish and queues formed well before they opened; after it had been sold there were only a few sausages (mostly of bread) or meat-or-fish-cakes of dubious content. After that it was chips with nothing. The shops sometimes didn’t open at all – days when there was no fish on the market. Fishing could only be done in near coastal waters and they didn’t always manage to catch anything.
I was still at school in 1939 and when I was evacuated the school was many miles away so I had to eat in the school canteen – not very inspiring. I can remember macaroni cheese without much cheese and being many times faced with a plateful of mash alongside a small piece of Cheddar and some over-boiled cabbage, often followed by semolina with a dab of jam in the middle. But we ate it all.