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.: May 2007 --> Feeding a family on WWII rations

Feeding a family on WWII rations

» In a nice piece of serendipity, Peacockharpy is doing her own experiment in feeding her family this month: Food is a munition of war.

I've always been interested in historical cookery, particularly because I feel it is a sort of time travel -- with some limitations, you can eat the same foods that the Romans did, or the medieval French, or the Elizabethan English. My husband has done World War II re-enactment, and I've joined him on occasion for a USO dance. So perhaps it's not surprising that when I said, "I think... it might be an interesting experiment to try and live on World War II rationing rules for a month," he didn't say, "Are you crazy?" but instead replied, "Hey, that does sound interesting. Let's do it."

She's right. One of the reasons I love cooking from other cultures—or even from other parts of my own country—is that I feel I'm engaging in that culture in an intimate way when I do. What people eat tells you so much about their everyday lives: what the climate is like, what is available in their area, how they spend their time, and then, over time, how those factors shape how they think about food. Food, for me, is one way to understand other people's lives.

She's using the rations laid out in a collection of U.K. wartime rationing recipes and plans to use some UK wartime recipes. What an absolutely fascinating project.

 [ 05.14.07 ]


Apparently the British diet was an awful lot healthier under rationing than afterwards. The nature of the rations forced a balanced diet.

You might like "Shakespeare's Kitchen" by Francine Segan. The recipes in it aren't 100% accurate, but the majority are reasonable approximations & seem like they'd actually taste good. Mace seems to be the most common spice; I'm not sure I've ever actually used it, and I'm not sure that nutmeg wouldn't be OK as a substitute. A lot of the recipes start with a "Renaissance Dough" recipe given in the book, and everything seems pretty savory.



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