Those of you who follow Delicious History on Twitter may remember that a few weeks ago I tweeted about Remembrance Day, which will fall next Sunday – 11/11/12.
This year I wanted to do more than just remember those who have endured the hardships war. I wanted to take it a step further by experiencing a small element of what they lived through.
I have done a great deal of research into the rationing and food restrictions placed on the Australian Home Front during WWII, and I can say that it certainly puts into perspective how indulgent and wasteful modern society is. As such, for the week leading up to Remembrance Day, I intend to live off these same rations and restrictions, utilize authentic 1940s rationing recipes, and to document the experience.
I am of course aware that this will in no way compare to the hardship and loss experienced by those who have actually lived through war. However, I thought that this small gesture would give me a more informed understanding and enlightenment into how their sacrifices enabled modern Australians to live such privileged lives.
I have done my best to be as accurate as possible when it comes to the rationing amounts per adult per week, although I’m sure that it won’t be 100% correct.
Here is a list of the foods that have finite restrictions that I will be utilizing over the next seven days:
Fresh Meat – 1.1kg
I have chosen bacon, chuck steak and sausages. The latter is due to the fact that sausages weren’t rationed, and the bacon and steak because they were cheaper and more readily available during wartime.
I should also mention that Spam was a common commodity during WWII, so I’ll be exposing my body to it in the name of historical enquirey. I haven’t tried it before, and I must say that I’m rather apprehensive/terrified. In addition, thinking about it makes Monty Python invade my internal monologue.
Sugar – 450g
I actually don’t have a great deal of sugar in my diet, so I can’t see this being much of a setback. However, I do plan on doing some baking so it’ll be interesting to see if any difficulties crop up.
Butter – 225g
Same as the sugar
Milk – 1.2L
Same as the sugar and butter, but to a somewhat lesser extent. I mostly use milk in my tea and coffee.
Cooking Oil – 50g
I’m unsure as to whether this is going to be much of an issue as yet. However, I do plan on utilizing the ‘save the grease’ principle of rationing which will help stretch my budget out.
Fruits and Vegetables
There were no ration restrictions placed on fruits or vegetables, however, they were subject to availability. In order to be as authentic as possible I ordered a seasonal fruit and vegetable box from Coles. I won’t know what I’m getting until it’s arrived and I will have to make do with whatever I get.
Flour and Bread
Again, these items weren’t rationed, but wholemeal was the standard fare so that’s what I’ll be using. My main challenge here will be with the bread. I can take a month to go through a single loaf and thus keep it in the freezer. I won’t have that luxury this week and will therefore need to think of creative ways to utilize the slices that start going stale. Afterall, one wasted nothing during wartime.
FYI, French Toast is out, because unless you had your own hens, you were only allowed one fresh egg per week.
It was highly encouraged that people kept herb and vegetable gardens (known as Victory Gardens) to supplement their diets and to reduce the strain on food demand. Luckily I have a herb garden, which will come in handy when I need to jazz up relatively plain recipes.
Tea – 45g
Tea was in short supply during WWII due to the blocking of trade routes from Asia. I’m actually quite worried about this restriction, because I drink an obscene amount of tea.
I hope you all follow my little culinary adventure through history – as I said, I’ll be documenting it daily. I’m really looking forward to the experience and hope that it makes me more appreciative for what I have, and the sacrifices made to enable my relatively cushy lifestyle.