Popular Dishes That Owe Their Origin To The Great World Wars

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These are great times, and like ‘warboy’ we can totally walk out and shout ‘Oh, what a lovely day’. These are times where we can appreciate food and not use it as means to stay alive. These are times when we can we afford to have the luxury of critiquing and not stuffing our mouth with just about any thing to counter hunger. These are times where a steamed chocolate pudding effortlessly passes as ‘gourmet’ and not a compromise for a dessert. Yes, we are talking about wartime food and food that owe their origin to the great world-wars


Steamed Carrot and Chocolate Pudding  

In 1941, sweets and chocolate were rationed. And combined with the non-availability of butter, margarine and lard, cooking pudding became a kind of challenge. Slowly, more and more recipes started using vegetables such as carrots and beetroots as substitute for sweetness and moisture. Steamed carrot and chocolate pudding is one recipe that adapted to the change well and one that quickly became popular.

Woolton Pie or Lord Woolton Pie

What a fantastic example of how a war stricken nation would cope with rationing. Because fats were rationed, and the appetite for pie drooped no less, Francis Latry, the then Maitre Chef de Cuisine of Savoy Hotel in London whipped up this inexpensive pie which used potato pastry and seasonal vegetables. The clever use of potato pastry eliminated use of extra fat and yet gave the pie a crispy top.



Carrot Flan

What graces the racks of superior patisseries these days is in truth a bitter sweet testimony of the dark days that has passed this earth. During the war there was an abundance of carrots. To encourage consumption of it in various forms, the government started certain feel-good campaigns and advertisements- owing to which various new recipes popped up, including carrot flan and carrot lollies.

Organ Meats/ Ox-Tongue/Liver Creole

What you deem today as gourmet was once a section of food only poor men touched. While tenderloins were reserved for well to do families, offal or internal organs and parts were the food of the poor. But the dice soon rolled with the onset of war where meat was eventually rationed. This disrupted the common diet and sent people to an absolute frenzy. To counter disappointment, the government started to encourage people to have offal through various witty campaigns. Slowly, it became food that patriots ate and not the poor.



Rabbit Stew

We’ve heard several stories about the horrors of war, and the difficulties in getting fresh produce. While frequent air raids would make it difficult to make a hot meal, the no replacement policy of ration would need to be addressed as well by making good use of whatever there was. Taking cue from the farm workers who used to keep food in a hay box to cook food slowly {hay boxes are warm and continues to cook food by keeping the temperature intact} families would keep stew or soup packed tightly in hay and leave it in a box which would cook slowly and keep it hot as well. Rabbits were cheaper and more abundant in number so a Rabbit stew became a war time delicacy. Because cider was not rationed, people would use grated apple to cook as well.

The slow cooked Rabbit Stew that we today relish was born out of bare necessities!