I think queues were invented in the UK. We queued for everything and even though I was only about four-and-a-half years old, I remember queuing with my mother. One time, when she was heavily pregnant with my brother, she sent me into the shop to keep her place, whilst she rested on the wall outside.
I marched in, went straight up to the front of the queue and stated my order…….I remember very well, the smiles and laughs, but I got my order right away and, once outside, instructions from Mum on the correct way to queue. My Mum told me that ‘food was all we thought about’ how to get it what to make with it, how to stretch it.
We ate everything from the animal. Called ‘offal’ it included heart, kidneys, brain and stomach–all made into quite tasty dishes. I don’t know if I would have eaten the dishes, had I known what I was actually eating!
¹During rationing, 1 person’s typical weekly allowance would be: 1 fresh egg, 4 oz margarine, 4 oz bacon (about 4 rashers), 2 oz butter, 2 oz tea, 1 oz cheese and 8 oz sugar.
Meat was allocated by price, so cheaper cuts became popular. Points could be pooled or saved to buy pulses, cereals, tinned goods, dried fruit, biscuits and jam.
We used to have a dish called ‘tripe’ boiled animal stomach with onions. Or liver and onions still popular today. If you got a tongue at the butchers you could make many meals with it. Fried, or pressed in aspic to make ‘brawn’ then cut up to make sandwiches with or add to salads.
A favourite after the Sunday roast was “bubble and squeak” which was the left-over potatoes and greens cut up small and fried to a crisp with cold meat and pickled onions, usually fed to us on Monday as the family laundry was done on that day. Corned beef hash was another dish mixed with cabbage and potato and fried.
Chitterlings (intestines) were sometimes eaten cold. Pigs trotters added to a hearty mix of vegetables made a wonderful meal with dumplings. Many people made their own blood puddings.
Gran’s beef olives was a favourite meal. That was skirt steak, when we could get it, beaten to death with a rolling-pin cut into strips and the strips stuffed with sage and onion stuffing rolled up and secured with a tooth pick and roasted for hours on end.
Dripping’ was the various fat from animals carefully preserved (no refrigeration in those days) in a crock and kept on the cold, stone floor in the larder to spread on a piece of bread sprinkled with salt – very tasty!
Most people had an allotment and grew as many veggies as possible. Wasting food was a criminal offence during the war my Gran told me. Too bad that does not apply today!
²The Ministry of Food produced leaflets and posters advising housewives to be creative and one of England’s best known cooks, Marguerite Patten gave cooking tips on the radio.
‘Mock’ recipes included ‘cream’ (margarine milk and cornflour) and ‘mock goose’ (Lentils and breadcrumbs). Powdered eggs and Spam from the US were mainstays of wartime and after. Kippers and Sprats were a fish easy to obtain in Plymouth Devon, a Royal Naval fishing city where I was born.
This is an example of a ‘Government Recipe’ taken from the book ‘Ration Book Cookery Recipes and History. Published by English Heritage, London 1985.
150 g (6 oz) split red lentils
275 ml (1/2 pint) water
15 ml (1 tbls) lemon juice
salt and pepper
For the ‘stuffing’
1 large onion
50 g (2 oz) wholemeal fresh breadcrumbs
15 ml (1 tbls) fresh sage, chopped.
Cook the lentils in the water until all the water has been absorbed. Add lemon juice and season. Then make the stuffing. Sauté the onion in a little water or vegetable stock for 10 minutes. Drain, then add to the breadcrumbs. Mix in the chopped sage and mix well. Put half the lentil mixture into a non-stick ovenproof dish, spread the ‘stuffing’ on top, then top off with the remaining lentils. Put in a moderate oven until the top is crisp and golden.
I have tried this recipe, and it was really good, considering not much was in the ingredients.
Despite the stresses of wartime, it was reported that the health of the poor improved. Babies and pregnant women were allocated extra nutrients such as milk, orange juice and cod liver oil.
Post war, the orange juice we got for my baby sister was condensed in a small bottle and carefully measured out by the teaspoon and mixed with water. For all the hardships I was never hungry and I do believe that I had a healthy start to life, due to rationing.
This is an interesting slide show regarding rationing.