Michelle Ann Kratts

An Invitation to a Wartime World

In Recipes, Uncategorized, World War II on February 24, 2016 at 4:34 pm

Maybe it’s time we look back and remember the darkest days of World War II.  We have seen all of the movies.  We have read so many of the books.  We have spoken with the older people who remember it well.  The fear, the deprivation.  Times were so very difficult and yet…don’t we all sometimes wish that we could go back to the war years? We want to experience it ourselves.  There were also so many really good things about the era.  People pulled together for victory.  There was something greater than just themselves at stake.  They bravely accepted the sacrifices they were asked to make.  They went without so much.  They recycled.  NOTHING was wasted.  They helped their neighbors.  They pulled together and in the end they were the winners.

Jean and Henry

My grandparents, Jean Fortuna and Henry Borgatti at Niagara Falls, about 1943.  My grandfather served in the Royal Canadian Air Force and my grandmother worked for Bell Aircraft where she made bomb kits for the war.  

Over the next couple of weeks I am inviting you to step back in time with me.  It will not be March of 2016 anymore.  It will be March of 1943.  We will look back upon the news, fashion, entertainment, rationing and most importantly:  wartime recipes.  For what is more critical to our daily life than our daily bread?  For seven days we will not only immerse ourselves in real daily life of March 1943…we will also prepare wartime inspired meals three times a day.  We will see if we have what it takes to live during wartime.  And we will not just stop in wartime Niagara Falls.  We will also slip into Canada and England, too.  Some of our day’s meals will be the average rationed foods enjoyed by our allies.

Ration book

Until I began to seriously research the English diet during WWII, I hadn’t actually realized the extent of the hardship these people experienced.  Along with the very real threat of bombings (by May of 1941, 43,000 British citizens had been killed at home and 1.4 million made homeless) the British were hungry.  Very very hungry.  Before WWII, Britain imported 50% of its total food and much of this came from Europe.  They were cut off from much of the world during the war.  As a result the Minister of Food, Lord Woolton, oversaw a rationing system that would get the British through the hardest times.  In June of 1941, Lord Woolton appealed to American women to sacrifice to an even greater extent in order to help their British allies.  Americans were asked to go without even more in order to allow the United States government to ship food to Britain and thereby bolster food supplies as well as morale.  Could we do it?

ww1645-51

March of 1943 brought even harder times.  German u-boats sank twenty-seven merchant ships on the Atlantic Ocean between March 16 and March 20.  Food rationing greatly expanded.  In the United States ration stamps were now required to purchase meats, cheese, canned milk, butter and other fats and all canned and processed foods.  It didn’t matter how much money you had if you did not have enough points leftover to purchase the items you required.  The way we fed our families changed.  Waste was a crime.  Every morsel of food was ingested.  Fruits and vegetables were the staples of our diet and the government promoted widespread canning–even giving more sugar out to those who canned.  Victory Gardens were integral to the war effort.

Victory

From the Niagara Falls Gazette 

Can you imagine a world like this?  Strangely, the people of Britain actually became healthier during their darkest hour.  Their lack of sugar and meats coupled with their uptake in whole grains and fruits and vegetables made them stronger and more vigorous.  I started thinking, maybe we can enter their world for a short time as a sort of experiment.  Truly feel what it was like to live in March of 1943.  Maybe coming back to 2016 we will find we are also better and fitter having experienced a sliver of life during wartime.

russian family

Niagarans were asked to help the Russians during March of 1943.  

So will you take the challenge? Get out your reddest lipstick ladies and fix your Victory curls.  We are heading back to 1943.  Bring an apron, too, as we will be doing a lot of cooking.

Cookbook ww2

 

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