ministry of foodPosted: March 15, 2010
last week, i had the pleasure of visiting the imperial war museum with my grandma. we had both never been there before but i was intrigued by a recent exhibit called the ministry of food, detailing what life was like in a british kitchen during world war two. specifically, it focused on the importance of farming and growing your own produce, as well as rationing and making do with what was available.
nonna (that’s what i call my grandma) was a great companion as we walked through the exhibit, pointing out bits and pieces she remembered from her own experiences. she lived through world war two with her family near london, and had to sleep in a bomb shelter in the back yard for over a year – playing monopoly every night by candlelight!
the exhibit was absolutely brilliant. they have a great collection of wartime posters and film reels, including one that we noticed from our hometown of lytham st. anne’s!
i just love the poster above (and all of the beautiful illustrations on show) – this was a horrific time to endure for most british citizens and they made the most of it with these wonderful and hopeful messages.
a lot of the content of this exhibit rings true today – there is a major emphasis on eating and thinking locally. obviously, we have different reasons for doing this now. but the impact on cost and environment remains the same. there are a great number of crops to be grown in your own back garden – planning is the key, and this is something everyone learned during the war.
and for all the other particular eaters out there – the diet during the war was largely influenced by availability, so many people weren’t eating fresh dairy, fresh eggs, and soy wasn’t even a question. nonna mentioned that her mother used to make a chocolate cake using liquid paraffin (a strong laxative used for medicinal purposes). sounds DELICIOUS!
so substituting for certain (what we now consider to be) essential ingredients has been around for ages. i picked up a copy of the ministry of food book after we exited the exhibit rooms and am loving all of these recipes (many of which have been updated for present day). for example, there’s a recipe in there for a fat-free sponge cake, using no butter or magarine, only eggs, sugar, water, baking powder, and flour. i might have to give this a go, substituting for the eggs of course.
if you’re in london, and you have a grandparent who was alive during the war, please please bring him or her to this museum. it’s an inspiring day out – brings you back down to planet earth and puts things in perspective. it is so easy to take things for granted, not just our abundance of food, so i think it’s important (or even necessary) to visit museums such as this one every once in a while for a reality check. appreciate where you came from and what your relatives went through for you to be here today!
/end preach 🙂