Further Thoughts on Food
I got this response from an old friend, Barbara Collins, in response to my earlier post on childhood food. Barbara grew up in Swansea, and I know it’s not Openshaw, but the circumstances were similar, if some of the solutions were different. Cockles form Swansea bay, for instance, and laverbread. I think it adds to the collective memory, so here it is.
Interesting post of Derek’s on wartime recipes. Our small back garden didn’t produce much. It was one of the many terraced houses in streets built to support the tin and steel works really close by. Half the garden was taken up by an Anderson shelter – where I remember seeing the night sky blazing with the fires from the bombing of Swansea docks and the flattened town. I was six when war began but I am not sure which year that memory was from.
Thinking about meals at that time is not very clear. Soup, was a meal in itself, made with a marrow bone if the butcher let you have one, no meat with that, but I loved the root vegetables and split peas. Vegetables – always seemed to be dried peas cooked in a muslin bag with bicarbonate of soda, – cabbage and carrots. I can’t recall runner beans or broad beans but that may be my memory. Eggs were a luxury and mainly kept for my step grandfather who worked on the furnaces in the steelworks, cheese too. A relative kept chickens which helped with their diet but then they had to give up some of their food coupons I think.
I’m sure anyone from that time remembers Spam, loathed by some, but I liked it with home cooked chips when there was enough lard to cook them.
Rabbit roasted stuffed with chopped onions and sage I loved with thick dark gravy was delicious, but this may not have been in the war years. I seem to think bacon with fry(lamb’s liver) was in there too. The liver, an extra, was slipped into the wrapped paper bag by the butcher with the meagre meat ration on rare occasions.
Dried eggs were made into poor omelettes probably with herbs or onions. Didn’t like it but ate it. Rice pudding seemed a constant with stewed prunes or apples, sometimes with blackberries or dewberries.
I can’t find fish in the memory though it must be there, but I remember a huge washbasin of cockles in their shells sitting in clean water on a big slate slab in the back yard. They would be boiled and sprinkled with vinegar. Any left cold were fried with sage and onion the following morning with left over mashed potatoes and I loved red pickled cabbage with that. Laverbread too.