Wartime Rations – Day Fourteen

Apologies for not putting up the final post in this two week experiment yesterday. My hay fever exploded last week and I started taking an OTC ‘non-drowsy’ anti-histamine. Well, neither the anti-histamine nor the non-drowsy seemed to work as I’ve spent the last few days wandering around like zombie, barely knowing what day it is, with my eyes streaming.  I stopped the pills on Friday, and now, although my eyes are still streaming, I’m at least finally awake!

With Sunday being my last day of rationing, I treated myself to a proper bacon and eggs breakfast. After such a hearty start to the day, some soup, a sandwich and fresh fruit was all I needed to satisfy me for the rest of the day.

Baconandeggs

So what have I learned from my two weeks of rationing?

1) The food was healthy, but very – very – time time consuming.  With lack of cold storage, no modern microwaves, endless queues at the individual shops and rations not always being available, it must have been extremely hard for the working married – or single – woman to find the time to cook a nutritious meal at the end of the day.  Factories and the workplace often supplied a hot meal through their canteens, so I’m sure the temptation must have been to eat lunch as the main meal and then come home to a sandwich or slice of toast.

2) Although I was born well after rationing ended in the UK, many of the meals these past two weeks have been very familiar from my childhood.  Which makes sense.  My mother was married in 1938 so out of the first 16 years of her married life, 14 of them were spent under full or partial rationing. These were the foods – and recipes – she would have used.

3) I don’t remember ever seeing Mum throw food out (nor paper nor empty jam jars) and I’m sure that was as a result of the war.  I have a friend whose mother was the same age as my own. Although my friend grew up in Canada, her British mother kept a closet packed with tinned food – just in case. Both of us found our mothers’ actions a little – eccentric – but they are a clear reminder to the writers out there that a character’s current behaviour and attitudes are influenced by his or her past experiences.

Another example: My mother-in-law was a real tea jenny. The teapot sat on the stove from the moment she woke up till the moment she went to bed.  If it got cold, she simply added water and boiled it up again. Once more, I’m sure that was a throw-back to the shortages during the war.

So am I going to continue with the rations? In a scaled down form, yes.  There are some recipes – carrot and apple jam for example – that I would like to try, and I’ll write about them in weekend blogs, but for the next little while, I think I’m going to go back to writing about writing.

 Some last thoughts from Anne about life after VE and VJ Day.

As the US troops withdrew and went home, they left behind plentiful supplies of tinned food, so that was the first time I tasted sweet corn. Then we were introduced to Spam, but that Spam tasted really good and was a real treat – can it be that it was a better quality for their forces, compared with its lowly place on food favourites now? But there were all sorts of veg and fruits (first time for lychee, too, for me), and tins of stews and even butter. I can’t clearly remember which tins were subject to the Points system.  All the tins were covered in khaki paint with the name stencilled in black.

Some friends of mine lived in Ealing then, and Alan discovered that many tins which had illegible or non-existant description found their way, very cheaply, to city street markets. Some of the cheapest were the very large tins, about 10″ high and 8″ diameter – remember there were no fridges – so too large for most people. My friends had four young children at the time so Alan used to get a couple or so of these anonymous large tins every week. He knew that the contents of most of them would be eaten quite quickly at home; those that were not to their taste… well… that’s when he took up winemaking, and in a big way. Anyway, we were glad the US had abandoned such bounty – and wished it could have lasted longer.

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2 thoughts on “Wartime Rations – Day Fourteen

  1. Oops, sorry Diana, my fingers obviously typed ‘supermarkets’ while I was thinking ‘street markets’ – it’s not the first time I’ve done that. A

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