I love collecting books. There’s a lifetime of escaping to alternative worlds within the covers of a good book. One of the attractive things about reading is inhabiting other times and places and sometimes the facts are stranger than fiction. That’s certainly true of Patsy’s Reflections, a cook book from 1949. Food rationing didn’t end in the UK until 1954, despite hard-fought elections on the subject. Here, then, are recipes your ancestors would have followed, drawn into cartoon strips.
It’s as patronising as you might expect:
“When Patsy got married to Peter in 1946, she hardly knew how to cook an egg, and she little dreamed that three years later hundreds of thousands of readers of the Daily Mirror would be looking forward each day to see what she would be up to in the kitchen.”
The recipes are meat and two veg style, with dried reconstituted egg, and phases like, “…if you could spare a bit of cheese…” There’s hardly any sugar and very little fat used, so it would be perfect if you eat meat and fish and want a low fat, low carbohydrate diet. It’s hardly surprising people were thin then, is it?
There’s the occasional mention of garlic as the most exotic thing you could possibly add to a meal.
Of all the things that weren’t rationed, whale meat and canned snoek fish from South Africa failed to become popular. People ate rabbits and pigeons and biologists even ate their laboratory rats. Patsy tried to encourage Daily Mirror readers to eat more whale.
Here’s Peter, being the provider, bringing home the whale to be fried:
And here to be stewed:
“Unrationed and no points either.”
Unrationed isn’t even a word now.
There are plenty of reasons why we shouldn’t eat Whales: They’re wild, not domesticated; They’re awe-inspiring mysterious creatures; We don’t need to eat them; We could just enjoy them; Many are threatened and have been extirpated from their territories; They’re no use roasted, but only good for boiling or frying. Seriously, I’m delighted that we’ve changed our eating habits slightly in the UK. What a shame we still have many other ways we need to change. We’re destroying the natural world one mouthful at a time.
In 70 years time, what do you think people will look back on in horror, when they see a copy of Delia or Stein or any of the others, in their books full of people glorying in eating extinct species?