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The Food of WWII

Discussion in 'WWII Activities and Hobbies' started by Jack B, Jan 29, 2020.

  1. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    An idea for a thread has been simmering away in the back of my mind…..

    I’d like to start a discussion here about the food and rationing of food during the Second World War.

    Napoleon’s old adage, "An army marches on its stomach” still rings true today, and food was a factor in the success and failure of armies during WW II. Moreover, the Second World War was a “total war” affecting civilians and soldiers alike. Food shortages affected everyone, and everyone had to adapt. Leningrad comes to mind as an extreme example.

    I’m curious about how that was accomplished on the plate. In an effort to understand what rations and rations were like during the war, I thought it would be interesting and educational to dig up and try out the recipes of the day.

    I hope members here will chime in with recipes, perhaps handed down from older generations or gleaned from other resources, and pass on the knowledge of a significant part of the experience of World War II.

    To start off, I dug up a copy of the US Army TM 10-405 from 1941.

    [​IMG]


    This field manual details the setting up of a kitchen, but then also gives recipes for food to be made. A recipe for Meatloaf caught my eye:

    [​IMG]


    I've made many a meatloaf in my day, but this one seemed a bit austere:

    [​IMG]


    Now, there was no way I was going to make 40# worth of meatloaf, so I scaled it down to a more reasonable size:

    1.5 pounds ground beef
    1 pound ground pork
    2 eggs
    1/2 an onion, finely chopped
    1/2 clove of garlic
    2 teaspoons salt
    1 teaspoon ground pepper
    2 slices bacon

    I made the referenced "batter" from beef stock and flour. I've never seen this done before.....and am not sure I want to see it done again......

    After the requisite 2 hour bake at 230ºF, the loaf looked a bit pale and I cranked the heat up to 425º for a few minutes to brown it a bit.

    [​IMG]


    OK, not a food shot to win a spot in Gourmet magazine, but this meatloaf turned out to be surprisingly good! I served it with some ketchup and a side of green peas.

    [​IMG]


    I can't say that I was 'transported' back to 1941, but I will say this meatloaf was fairly good. Compared to other meatloaf recipes I've used, it was a bit dense. Nevertheless, despite the lack of herbs and spices, it had a very nice flavor and was fairly moist, too. Mrs Jack really liked it: "I'd eat this again."

    I'd say the Army had a decent thing going here with this recipe; worth trying.
     
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  2. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    [​IMG]

    Give this a crack...
     
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  3. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    I think that's a popular dish in Kentucky, still. Served as a sandwich. Hard to find brains in these parts....uhh....no pun intended.

    Source for that?
     
  4. Takao

    Takao Ace

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  5. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    Thanks!
     
  6. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    [​IMG]
     
  7. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I had a Mess Management Specialist tell his LT that I had been complaining about the food on the chow line. The LT called me to his office, he was obviously ready to chew me out when I arrived.

    "Care to tell me what's wrong with our food?"

    "My only complain was that there was too much broken light bulb in the salad. I discovered a piece of glass in my mouth."

    He looked a bit funny then, the cook hadn't mentioned that part.
     
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  8. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    British food was driven by rationing. Here are some wartime civilian recipes
    182 Wartime Recipes
    British wartime food was light on meat and heavy on vegetables with soya replacing meat in sausages. It was a very healthy diet by modern standards and pretty much what your doctor would recommend.

    There are Army and navy cookbooks.

    You can buy Navy cook books. These include well known delicacies such as...
    S**t on a raft
    Train smash
    Cowboys
    Cheesy Hammy Eggy topside
    Babies Heads
    Prairie Chicken

    Some of the C19th Army recipes were included in Garnett Wolsey's pocket book. 1886 The soldier's pocket-book for field service : Wolseley, Garnet Wolseley, Viscount, 1833-1913. n 50051751 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive This includes recipes for company sized portions for
    Meat soup
    Irish Stew
    Beef and mutton pudding
    Plum pudding
    Vegetables - including Nettles - Wolsey was a fan of greens

    The British Army did not have a specialist catering corps until 1941. Cooks were assigned within units. The poor quality of food provided by regimental cooks. Here is an example of a hand written recipe book. Culinary secrets of Desert Rats revealed in World War Two cookery book
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2020
  9. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    That notebook by Cpl James Harrison looks fantastic. I hope it gets digitized at some point.

    I found the 182 Wartime Recipes site while cruising around the interweb. It looks quite promising, however, my one concern is that none of the recipes have a reference. Where do they come from, I have to wonder.....

    Still, they look fairly 'right'.

    Thanks!
     
  10. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Reminds me of a Darwin night back in the 80s...having a big party, the tables set up outside...everyone had brought a plate of amazing food and they covered the big table...just before everyone was about to tuck in the fluro light above explodes and sends tiny shards of glass into everything...they had to turf every plate : (
     
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  11. Jba45ww2

    Jba45ww2 Well-Known Member Patron  

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    So this is a thread that goes right to my stomach. Some might know me from my different groupings of WW2 collections but most don't know me a retired classically trained Executive Chef. One part of my collection is finding home front cook books and see what our women had to do to keep the families fed. Below are some of my favorite.
    Cooking for Victory! Little Johnny and the American Flag made from Apples
    Cooking for Victory.JPG

    This says it al. Delicious Wartime Meals. I had some of my "Chef" friends over one time and actually followed a few of the recipes a true as possible. Fortunate for me I had some very good IPA's and plenty of Jameson to wash it down. I explained to everyone that we were not in war time and that affected the taste. I tried contacting the College of Home Economics, Cornell University- I guess they have moved on from that department


    Women Victory.JPG

    I asked my wife for "Double Duty" for Victory and needless to say I lost

    Double Duty.JPG


    Does anyone even know what Okra is anymore? Who need Kelly Green glace icing when you have spinach.

    Food Coloring Ideas.JPG

    If anyone would like some recipe please let me know. I am more than happy to share. I think we should have a contest. You have to follow the recipe and even follow the Ration Cards allotment. Remember-People eat with their eyes before they taste.
     
  12. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    I love okra!

    And, yes, post up a recipe or two.....or more. I've already got a few more in mind to test out and try. I'll be posting the results.......
     
  13. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Okra, the veggie that makes its own snot.
     
  14. Jba45ww2

    Jba45ww2 Well-Known Member Patron  

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    I made a strawberry okra tart once and my staff stared at me as if I just landed from another planet
     
  15. Jba45ww2

    Jba45ww2 Well-Known Member Patron  

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    So here are the first recipes that I am putting out to try. I thought since we are having a special dinner we should begin with some appetizers. The first recipe seems rather simple in the fact that it just seems to be Cheese and olive canapes on bread. Well in this house we will start by making a sourdough bread that comes from a 5 year old sour strain that I have. Now I do not expect others to follow but during war time we must think outside the box to keep the family happy when it comes to food. and taste.
    Canapes.JPG

    One of my biggest weaknesses in lfe is Foi Gras and I was so excited when I saw this recipe...….until I saw that it was made with chicken livers. Well I will admit that I have used chicken livers when making pate, just never called it Foi Gras. So here goes appetizer #2 for those who would like to try.
    Foi Gras.JPG

    I also added a little incentive for those who might need help with a pretty picture of appetizers from a war time cook book.. Bon Appetite!
    Appetizer Pix.JPG
     
  16. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    That's some fancy wartime feasting!

    I'll give the cheese and olive canapé recipe a shot. Haven't seen chicken livers in the market recently. They must be going out of fashion. o_O
     
  17. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    As well they should.
     
  18. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ..I read where lobsters were not rationed in the UK during WW2 ..so I guess there was an abundance of them....?
     
  19. Jba45ww2

    Jba45ww2 Well-Known Member Patron  

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    What was also interesting that the lobster population was decimated in Germany because of British Bombing.
     
  20. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Anything that could be grown or produced at home was encouraged. Lobstermen reverted to sail, as I understand it, making them even more popular with the ration boards.
     

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