Monday, 29 April 2013

Why I'm Dancing To Victory

Today is a vintage inspired post. As you may know I’m a real vintage lover and even more so when it comes to cooking. We may have the creative chefs of today knocking out amazing dishes that look like they should be hosted in an art gallery, but for me I shall never fail to be impressed with the efforts from the everyday household cooks from the second world war. Those cooks had to make dried egg seem appetizing – try that one Masterchef! And rationing. Jeepers – I’m ALWAYS hungry and love thinking about what I’m going to make for my next meal. I can’t think of anything more bleak than having to divvy up 100g of bacon between a family for a week and go without a large claret.

But really, I tip my 1940’s veiled hat (with a feather – stunning) to the mighty Land Girls or officially known as the Women's Land Army. They were hardcore women who grafted relentlessly to provide nutritious food for our nation in WWII in tough conditions, heavy manual labour and long hours. And I moan about motorway driving and sitting at a desk to earn a living. I know. (Slaps one’s own wrists). They produced 70%  of food in Britain so I never fail to be blown away by these gals’ efforts to feed the country. The Spice Girls didn't invent Girl Power. The Women's Land Army did and then some.
EM Arts & Vintage Photography
Yesterday I bought tickets for an exciting event Dance To Victory which not only looks awesome but the cause is truly important. Organised by the gorgeous Lisa Oakley of vintage fabulousness Lotty Blue of and Sharon Taylor of Always Red Events, these creative ladies are supporting the Staffordshire branch of the Women's Food and Farming Union. Funds raised will pay for a well-deserved memorial for the Women's Land Army and I feel proud to be there supporting the event. It's an evening of music and dance entertainment including the beautiful and talented Lola Lamour. I will feel in Vintage heaven. I’d love to go to the day event Pitch In For Victory too but I’m otherwise engaged but I strongly recommend you check it out and get your tea dress clad butt over there pronto! 18th May, Stafford.
Gorgeous Lola Lamour

I hear the food will be WWII inspired which I will look forward to. So what did families eat during those tough years? Well due to rationing which began on 1940, cooks had to begin to get used to less butter, eggs, milk, meat, sugar, rice, wheat – ok practically everything. Yes chocoholics – the mighty cocoa bean too! Rabbit, game, chicken and fish thankfully weren’t rationed but fish was increasingly difficult to buy as the war continued and families were offered whale meat and tinned snoek (a type of fish from South Africa) which went down like a lead balloon.

EM Arts & Vintage Photography
Therefore tinned meat such as spam and corned beef, dried eggs and home-grown produce were an absolute godsend. The Dig for Victory campaign saw the country making veg plots out of any spare patch; including tennis courts! Some even kept chickens and goats and bred rabbits and self-sufficient living became the norm.

 I’m astounded at some of the make do recipes when forced to go without; mock cream (cornflour, milk, butter) eggless batter, boiling fruit peel to glean sweetness in the absence of sugar.The Government’s Ministry of Food ensured that rationing met nutritional standards and produced leaflets and booklets to teach the nation how to get the best out of the meagre rations. Marguerite Patten was part of the MOF and her popular radio show “Kitchen Front” used her creativity to show British households how to whip up delicious meals using very little. Some of Margerite’s recipes included tripe mornay, bacon and potato cakes, lemon sponge, cheese pie and 8 minute doughnuts.
EM Arts &Vintage Photography

Although some people found the Ministry a little nanny state-ified, many a person had big love for Lord Woolton who was the MOF Minister, so much so he has a pie named after him. What an accolade! This pie was made with veggies such as carrot, swede and since flour was rationed, pastry was made with flour and potato; a crucial ingredient to top a variety of pies as well as the LW variety.

Soups and casseroles were frequent meals since they stretched out slow cooked meats and the veg would bulk the meals out. Yet over time, as men and women served in the armed forces, they began to learn more about more exotic cuisine. The nation became more adventurous with their menus serving up hamburgers, curries, goulash and moussaka. I was surprised about this as I thought they were “modern” dishes but those spices were a godsend to pimp up otherwise bland ingredients.

As horrendous as the war was, it’s played a huge part in how we eat today in terms of food technology ie canning, preserving and also nutritional science. Let’s never take for granted the abundance of food we have today and forget the tremendous efforts of our wartime sisters the Land Girls. If you’re around on the 18th May it would be fantastic so see you at the Dance To Victory event or do pop along to the day event and pay tribute to these amazing women.
EM Arts & Vintage Photography

1 comment:

  1. This is a fantastic write-up for the Woman's Land Army Tribute event thank you so much for featuring the story on your blog
    Much Love