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On Saturday I headed south to the Imperial War Museum to view the Ministry of Food exhibition and attend a cookery demonstration from Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall and Sophie Grigson sponsored by the Company of Cooks.
During the 1930s, Britain was very reliant on imports to feed the nation and the Ministry of Food was the key organisation in encouraging the nation to eat well (for strength and vigour!) and manage food stocks in war (and post-war) Britain.
The art works are fabulous, Dig for Victory really was an inspired campaign, as are all of the examples of foodstuffs from the period; whether sweets or soapsuds.
The introduction of rationing and instruction on health management through eating well actually improved outcomes for a range of health indicators. To me it’s just all so relevant now with obesity and other health issues on the rise and the credit crunch putting pressure on the family wallet.
I’d also spent a couple of hours making my way through the holocaust exhibit, so it was good to cheer myself up with someone cooking a potato and herb floddie, the equivalent of a British rosti . The demonstration was an amusing hour and a half as the two cooks meandered their way through a split pea and ham soup with a very long French name (having been served at The Dorchester – how posh), the aforementioned floddies and sorrel salad, and some jelly mastery with leaf gelatine, juices and egg cups.
Jane was born just before the war in 1939 so grew up in the rationing period through til the early 50’s. She’s the author of the Good Granny Cookbook, and other similar volumes and was tasked with producing the accompanying book for the exhibit. Sophie is a well known TV chef with several cookbooks and obviously loves her veggies!
The last of the three demonstrations is on Saturday 19 June with Allegra McEvedy and Henry Harris and focuses on finding free tasty treats for the dinner table. After a long discussion on Saturday about the merits of making ones own elderflower cordial I should imagine it will be an entertaining and informative hour!
Ministry of Food is at the Imperial War Museum until January 2011. £4.95 for adult ticket