My Liberation Day / VE 75 High Tea
As I am researching for recipes for my Liberation Day / VE 75 High Tea, we are currently in lockdown from the Covid-19 virus. It is not a particularly onerous hardship. With access to mobile phones, online movies, and the ability to buy anything on the internet and have it delivered to your doorstep. So in the run-up to celebrating the seventy-fifth anniversary of Liberation Day. I wanted to point out just what was available to a far less fortunate generation. Liberation Day is celebrated one day after VE day. The British government could not spare the troops required to free the heavily fortified Channel Islands. So Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark and Herm were not liberated until after the D-day landings.
In the UK some food was rationed from 1940. By 1942 everyone carried a ration card and there were limits on much of what you could eat. A weekly ration included the following; Bacon & Ham – 4 oz, Butter – 2 oz, Cooking fat – 4oz, Cheese – 2 oz, Margarine – 4 oz, Milk – 3 pints, Sugar – 8 oz, Jam, and preserves – 1 lb every two months, Tea – 2oz, 1 fresh egg plus an allowance of dried egg and 12 oz of sweets every two months.
As a chef, I’m humbled by the fact I can now throw two ounces of butter in a pan to fry some fish or as the base for a sauce. Everyone was encouraged to dig up their front lawns and grow vegetables to supplement their diets. If you lived in the country you might be lucky to shot a rabbit to go in a stew. A tin of salmon was an almost unheard of luxury. I now know why my Grandma always opened a tin for Sunday tea.
During the war, the Ministry of Food was in charge of the nation’s food supply. The resulting diet has been proved to be the healthiest in the nation’s history with low sugar, fat, and red meat. The Ministry controlled food supply and prices. It provided the countries housewives and cooks with recipes such as Condensed Milk Cake. Condensed milk was a popular ingredient used as a substitute for sugar. One of the most famous recipes was for Woolton pie. This was created at the Savoy hotel for the minister of food. It was made by the Head Chef from vegetables with a wholegrain pastry top.
Rationing in the Channel Islands
Because of the occupation by the German forces the people of the Channel Islands fared far worse than the UK. The most famous reference to this time is the popular book and film ‘ The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’. This tells the story of life in Guernsey during the occupation. There were many hardships. If you were caught dealing in the black market for food the punishments were quite severe. In fact, by Liberation Day apart from a couple of life-saving Red Cross shipments, the people were starving. The German soldiers increasingly commandeered more and more of the island’s scant resources.
How to celebrate Victory in Europe and the Liberation of the Channel Islands? The girls and I are going to tuck into a selection of great British tea time favourites on Saturday the ninth of May. A sugar-laden tribute to all those people who struggled through unbelievable hardships. I hope you will raise a cup of tea in celebration too.