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The Food of WWII

Discussion in 'WWII Activities and Hobbies' started by Jack B, Jan 29, 2020.

  1. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    I'm on a roll here...no pun intended. Today I tried out the “Oslo Meal”.

    I first encountered the idea of the Oslo meal when reading through a British Ministry of Food pamphlet prepared by the Ministry of Information: Wise Eating in Wartime



    It is a small collection of essays based on a wartime radio program, Kitchen Front, broadcast by the BBC during the war, featuring “The Radio Doctor”, Dr. Charles Hill

    [​IMG]



    He goes on to say:

    “Then, there’s the Oslo breakfast. It isn’t really a breakfast; it’s a meal you can take for breakfast, dinner, or tea. And it’s only connection with Oslo is that it was first tried in an Oslo school.”​

    Not quite, right.

    “The Oslo Breakfast had been designed by professor Carl Schiøtz to be as healthy as possible, with widely reported studies suggesting it delivered excellent results for the children's long-term health. During the 1930s the Oslo breakfast became famous and was copied by programs in Scandinavia, Europe, and the wider world.

    While there was some variation in the meal, its typical ingredients included:

    • Two slices of wholemeal bread (Kneippbrød) spread with margarine
    • A slice of cheese
    • Half a pint of milk
    • Half an apple and half an orange
    Extra ingredients might include slices of raw uncooked vegetable, such as carrots or swedes. Between autumn and spring, a dose of cod liver oil could be included.”
    — wiki​

    The War Cabinet was addressing the idea back in 1940:
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    War Cabinet Memo, 02/09/1940

    This meal was originally designed to provide undernourished children with a nutrition-filled meal at school. The meal proved effective in improving some children's health and was picked up by other school programs. The Oslo meal was featured at the 1939 World’s Fair on Treasure Island in San Francisco in the Norwegian Ski Lodge exhibit.

    [​IMG]


    The concept of the “Olso Meal” (note the shift from just breakfast to a meal for anytime of day.) evolved into a meal of milk, whole grain bread, cheese, fruit, and veg. All very ration friendly.

    [​IMG]


    Dr Hill helps us understand:

    “The Olso meal is good British food — none better.

    Here it is. National or Wholemeal bread, milk, cheese, butter or margarine, and uncooked salad vegetables.

    How’s that for a meal?”

    “There’s no meat in it; but all the builders you can possibly need are in the cheese and milk and bread.”

    “The Oslo meal is precious near the ideal meal.”​


    I’m sold.

    So were many Americans, British, and Australians. Even as late as 1944, the Ministry of Food kept the idea of the quick and easy Oslo meal alive:


    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    The Manchester Guardian, 10 April 1944
    (The Herring was added to increase the Vitamin D content, especially during the darker days of Winter.)​


    I cheated a bit with the salad dressing and made my own from Olive oil, lemon juice, a spoon of mayo, salt & pepper, and a dash of celery seed.

    For the salad:
    • 2 cups chopped cabbage
    • 1 shredded carrot
    • 1 stalk celery, chopped
    • 1 apple, diced
    Mix and toss with dressing.​


    For the bread & cheese component I used some homemade wholemeal sourdough bread, a little butter, and some sliced cheddar cheese. Good British food — none better.

    [​IMG]



    In the end, I’m calling this another win for the MoF….and Norway. This made a great little lunch. It was tasty and filling and I feel I got plenty of builders for the rest of my day. What’s not to like?

    Mrs Jack loved it; she requested that we have this again. She’s now warming up to this wartime meal experiment. (note that she didn’t try my New Guinea Bully beef & Rice offering.)

    How’s that for a meal?
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2020
  2. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Gosh you weak stomached spam...

    The Eighth army fought for three years in the western desert on a diet of biscuits and cored beef/dog. You are right to believe that Tabasco helps. A well organised detachment will have a good selection of condiments, spices and sauces.

    You can buy corned dog, I mean beef, in shops. I had some for lunch the other day. Very tasty with pickle as a sandwich.

    No one seems to have the definitive answer about why tins of corned beef became known as bully beef. Beef preserved in salt dates from the middle ages. It may have been produced by some French company as boiled beef - Bouf Bouilli - bully beef. Or it may not....

    For over 100 years it was a stable part of British Army rations - from the Boer war to Afghanistan in 2009. Good on a biscuit or slice of bread. With biscuits - British army not spammy cream crackers, it has the core ingredients of a meat pie. Meat and pastry. Excellent as corned beef hash with potatoes. OK as the meat ingredient in stews or curries. It is finest as the protein element of the piece de resistance of any gun detachment feast the "All in Stew". The ingredients are, as it says on the tin. Everything mixed together in a big dixie: Corned beef, rice, mixed vegetables, peaches, pudding mixed fruit, apricot jam and margarine.
    Somewhere in the BBC sound archives is a recording of the BBC Radio 4 food program circa 2000 made on Munsterlager South Ranges with exactly this culinary delight cheerfully described by the gun No 1. The MOD decided that this was taking the piss and shortly afterwards announced that rations would henceforth be delivered in individually prepared meals depriving soldiers of their limited opportunities for culinary creativity.
     
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  3. Jba45ww2

    Jba45ww2 Active Member Patron  

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    I am thinking of making some kind of dessert for Valentines Day for my wife from the cookbook. They have some interesting old school candies. I unusually make some type of home made chocolate but there is a war on you know and with rationing. Not sure if that will end the 29 years of wedding bliss... well lets just say 29 years.
     
  4. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    Are you taking the Mickey?

    Thanks for the extra notes. Even today, guys will tear apart their MRE's, swap bits, mix components, and come up with unique meals. I have seen a reference to 'curried bully beef'; if I can find some details on that, I'll give it a try.

    added: One theory about the origins of the name "bully beef" came from a label from a tin of corned beef that featured a bull's head as part of the brand. Plausible, I suppose.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2020
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  5. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    Heheheh..... Pick an early American recipe....before rationing went full-scale.
     
  6. Jba45ww2

    Jba45ww2 Active Member Patron  

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    I have to give you two thumbs up. Great eye appeal and the fat from the herring in the winter is a ++. That is another old school item you don't see here back here in the East. Years back when I first started working in the Pantry (salad area) we use to make pounds of Pickled Herring in the winter. Very basic with a home made mayo and capers. Back then everything was made in kitchen including the mayo. Now you could not give away pickled herring.

    The other thing I give you credit is that you also have given your pallet different textures. It fools your mouth in thinking that you have sometimes more than what you might really have. I might try this with my sour dough bread and see what my wife says.

    I know that obviously war is a very serious and in the end a sad and brutal thing. I will say I have never had more fun with a subject and hope more people keep trying. Don't be embarrassed and post what you try. The old saying goes " You cant make an omelet without breaking some eggs"! Outstanding job and great background history
     
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  7. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    Thanks, jba, but I can take no credit! :)

    Dr Schiøtz brought us this one:

    "Carl Schiøtz (2 November 1877 – 20 September 1938) was a Norwegian physician and professor of hygiene and bacteriology at the University of Oslo." -- wiki


    And you are right, of course, the Second World War was a dreadful event. But I do find this subject both enlightening and fun. I have to respect those who lived through this calamity, many of whom did so with grace and a smile and some ingenuity. :poppy::salute:
     
  8. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Not sure about the beef head. Was this the master contractor for the British Army and Navy?
    There are a lot of references to "bully" in Sea shanties.



    Curried corned beef is easy.
    Tin of corned beef, tin of mixed veg, tin of peaches, generous scoop of curry powder. Serve with a portion of rice. My signaler, Gunner Reed, taught the best way to cook army rice. Tip the rice into the BV (Boiling vessel- standard on most British AFVs: Big kettle cum deep fat fryer). Add water to cover the rice and a couple of spoons of margarine and salt and pepper to taste. Doesn't stick. <s> Reedus: probably ended his service as a WO2.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
  9. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Bully beef is another name for canned minced corned beef.
     
  10. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    The Oslo meal isn't that new. In the C17th Civil Wars bread and cheese was a staple military ration, replace the milk with beer...

    For much of its history the British army breakfasted on porridge - known pre C20th as "burgoo." Until the end of the C20th breakfast rations included an oatmeal block that could either be eaten as a biscuit or crumbled into a mess tin with powdered milk and, or chocolate powder or apple flakes. Breakfast of champions.

    Access to real eggs and bread opens the kitchen door to that finest of snacks the EGG BANJO. A fried egg sandwich which has its own literature.
    Egg Banjo - ARRSEpedia
    EGG BANJOS..it's official
    Snax Of The Gods
    arrse.co.uk is not safe for work. 1) profanity can offend and 2) excess mirth can attract unwanted attention

    Despite the explanation in this clip
    Ever Wondered Why It’s Called An ‘Egg Banjo?'
    The term is probably a corruption of the Indian word bhaji a fried snack
     
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  11. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Doing a bit of research for a battlefield study next month to Waterloo.

    Scene. Morning of 18th June 1815 Battlefield of Waterloo after a night of heavy rain with little shelter.
    According the account by Captain Mercer RHA, his gunners found a wagon with food and rum. They made what they called "Stir-about" - porridge from oatmeal.
    Captain Kincaid of the 95th Rifles mentioned a big camp kettle full of hot tea with plenty of milk and sugar made over a fire in the ruins of a cottage near the Mont St Jean Crossroads. All the senior officers from the Duke of Wellington and Earl of Uxbridge down the chain of command stopped by for a brew.
    Private Tom Morris of the 73rd was issued a double ration of gin. No one had deducted the rations for the men killed or wounded two days earlier at Quatre Bras
    Sergeant Wheeler of the 51st on the right of the allied line with no fires allowed. He spent the night sitting on his knapsack smoking tobacco.

    Porridge, tea, gin ,rum and tobacco.
     
  12. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    Sounds like breakfast to me....... ;)
     
  13. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper Patron  

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    gin is interesting. always thought it was rum.
     
  14. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I did a paper on the diets of the Spanish Armada and the English fleet when I was an undergrad. The Spanish had better food but prepared it less effectively.
     
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  15. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Waterloo is in Belgium where they make Genever Gin.
     
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  16. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    Not exactly WW II, but I am curious to know what you mean by "less effectively"?

    It ended up being less nutritious? More prone to spoilage? Less edible and/or appetizing?

    Hard to imagine English food being superior to Spanish food. The Spanish had a decent amount of experience sending fleets out to roam the seas in the 15th and 16th centuries. Not that they (and the English) didn't die like flies on long sea voyages, but they weren't exactly novices.....
     
  17. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I'm working from 1990s memories here. Nutritionist I consulted for the paper told me that the Spanish shipboard cooking was aimed at flavor rather than nutrition. It leaned toward more toward "foodie" than food. The Brits applied the KISS principle and the crews benefited.
     
  18. Jba45ww2

    Jba45ww2 Active Member Patron  

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    I wonder if that was also connected to the spices that were available to the Spanish Crews vs the English?
     
  19. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Spices were important in both camps, to cover the flavor of borderline spoiled meat.
     
  20. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    Spam don't need no spices.
     

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