You must remember this tin (pictured above) if you were a child in wartime England. I remember standing in long queues (lines) with my grandma waiting for our tin when I was about 2 or 3 years old. We got one tin of milk, cod liver oil, and one small bottle of very concentrated orange juice per week. I loved this milk so much that I couldn’t drink fresh milk after the war.
The government of the day worried that the British population would suffer bad health consequences as a result of food shortages and the lack of non-essentials such as fats, sugar, and meat; and also because a large number of doctors were sent with the armed forces to look after the fighting men. Apparently, their fears were in vain as the people were actually healthier than before. Here’s an interesting web site about why that could have been. http://www.cooksinfo.com/british-wartime-food
Because it’s been Holocaust Remembrance week and there have been lots of articles about reminiscences from the past, my memory was jogged and I remembered a few things, too. I remember waiting for my dad to come home on leave, so I must have been very, very small. I would wait at the corner of our street until I saw him in his uniform cresting the hill at Hyde Park Corner at the top of Victoria Road. I remember him picking me up and swinging me up on his shoulders and how rough his uniform was. It scratched my legs. I guess the army didn’t use high quality material for the millions of uniforms it had to make in a hurry.
It only happened a couple of times that he came on leave because he was in India and Burma during the war. He came home when he was demobbed in 1946 and I remember grandma made him egg and chips, his favourite meal! We weren’t gourmands in those days. Grandma cooked the chips in dripping fat (see post in Recipes about bread and dripping) and my mouth watered to see him eating them. The egg was cooked in fat that was too hot, so the egg white bubbled up and the edges turned brown. Served with several thick slices of bread and marg, dad thought it was wonderful. Just shows you.
Recently I was thinking about how people in England eked out their food rations to put nourishing meals on the table. Talk about living on a shoestring! I think the only things in abundance were cabbages. I’m going to be posting some of those recipes on this site for those who hanker for bread and dripping and other goodies.
While thinking about what we ate, I remembered some of the stories my mother told me. I was born during the war and apparently, when I was about six weeks old (August 8, 1942) my city, Leeds, was bombed. She lived with me on the top floor of a two-storey flat (apartment). When the sirens went, she grabbed me and ran out of the building and down the street to her mother-in-law’s house because grandma had a cellar. People were told to go in their cellars or to a bomb shelter during air raids. As mum was running down the street in her nightdress with the shrapnel clattering around her, an air raid warden stepped out of a doorway and grabbed her saying, “Where the bl***y h*ll do you think you’re going?” When she stammered out that she was going to her mother-in-law’s he took issue with her in colourful language, knocked loudly on the door inside the door nook where he was standing, and handed me to the woman who answered the door. Mum was then free to go to her mother-in-law’s, which she did!
When mum would tell this story during her reminiscing periods at family gatherings, I can only have been half listening or I would surely have asked her a few pertinent questions. What would have happened, I wonder, if she’d been hit by shrapnel and killed on her flight to grandma’s? Would the woman I was handed to have known who I was and whom I belonged to? I mean, I could have been a totally different person now raised by strangers!