Eating Well in Wartime
The British government was worried about the country running out of food during the war, so it brought in food rationing in January, 1940. Small amounts of sugar, meat, butter, bacon, tea and cheese were available each week, but only if you had the correct number of coupons in your ration book (the photograph below shows a week's rations for one adult in 1943). Eggs, milk, fish and chicken weren't rationed, but were in short supply. Later a points system came in, which allowed people to choose tinned meat, fish and beans, cereals, dried fruit, biscuits, lollies and canned puddings, based on the number of points they had saved. There were special allowances made for pregnant women, small children, vegetarians and those who had particular dietary requirements (for example, Jews and Muslims could exchange their bacon rations for cheese).
The Ministry of Food also provided information, in the form of recipe booklets, short films and a radio programme called The Kitchen Front to teach people how to cook creatively with such limited supplies. Recipes included 'mock goose' (made from potatoes, apples, cheese and vegetable stock), 'mock apricot tart' (potato pastry and carrots, with a few spoonfuls of plum jam) and 'mock cream' (margarine, milk powder and sugar). The most famous wartime recipe was for Woolton pie, named after the popular Minister of Food, Lord Woolton.
I did attempt to make a few of these wartime recipes myself. Carrot cookies were a success, but I was stumped by Spam. However, in recent times, some people have resolved to eat nothing but wartime food, either to lose weight or to save money or as part of a 1940s re-enactment. The Imperial War Museum in London also had a very popular exhibition in 2010, which included a café that sold meals based on wartime recipes.
Tomorrow: The Blackout