Great War Cook Book : From Trench Pudding to Carrot Marmalade
During the First World War, Britain was nearly starved into submission, as so many ships were lost to German submarines. Basics such as butter, eggs, milk and meat were in short supply, so the British public had to find creative ways of making food go further. The Great War Cook Book gives us the flavour of life on the Home Front.
With over 500 wartime recipes, author May Byron offers unusual alternatives to traditional ingredients to produce tasty and nutritional meals. From Ox-Brain Fritters and Fish Custard to Shepherd's Pie and Trench Pudding, there is something for everyone. Some are outlandish and challenging and some familiar, but all offer the opportunity to make more for less.
In the words of author May Byron, 'If you cannot have the best, make the best of what you have.'
This facsimile reprint of 'May Byron's Rations Cookbook' was originally published in 1918, the year rationing was first introduced in Britain. This title is only mentioned once, in the rather platitudinous introduction, which reads as if written for those who know nothing about the Great War and (over) stresses similarities with WWII. Nevertheless it does provide interesting details about the development of the rationing system and the little known about May Byron.
The book itself follows the pattern of the time, with numbered recipes and several different ways of making the same dish. Byron writes in a conversational style, encouraging her readers with practical and sometimes humorous advice on how to deal with the current difficulties.
Naturally, alternatives for the foods strictly rationed - fats, sugar and meat - are a preoccupation. Several recipes for clarifying cocoa butter and making sugar-beet syrup appear. There was a shortage of wheat and Byron spends a long time too explaining 'How to Make War Bread of G.R. Flour in 1918', suggesting mixing this less refined wheat flour with other grains or bulking it out with potatoes. Trench pudding was made with rice boiled in milk and water, mixed with cocoa butter or suet, chopped dates and a little sugar. Carrot marmalade was made without sugar, the other ingredients being oranges, lemons and water or just lemons and water.
All in all this is a fascinating insight into the unknown kitchens of the Home Front.
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