Stretching the Bacon Ration

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From what I can gather, this is a weeks bacon ration for one person in the UK in WW2. Even this miserably small quantity is the very, very best I can find. Other sources I have read suggest the ration was only half this amount. The reader should realise this is what could be taken home. That doesn’t necessarily mean that there would even be this much available to buy. There were other options though. For example, restaurants, for those who could afford it, went un-rationed in terms of quantity although they were rationed by price. In turn, they also had restrictions and could only buy in what was available. For those engaged in war work also had other options such as the workplace canteen. Then there was the British restaurant. These “communal feeding centres” were created for those bombed out of their homes, run out of food stamps or otherwise needed help. Another option, I’ve been told about from those who were there at the time, was to keep a pig. This could be done individually or as a community co-operative of some kind. However, anyway you look at it, bacon, like many foods, was a scarce resource.

I recently came across a book called “Eating for Victory”, “Healthy home front cooking on war rations” (ISBN 978-1-78243-026-1). This book describes itself as “Reproductions of official second world war instruction leaflets”. Inside this book I found this:

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So then, this is it:

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Well, from our time, it doesn’t look very promising does it? But then, it is what it is, and you just have to make do with what you’ve got and get on with it. What else is there to do? After all, there is a war on you know.

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I’ve pre-cooked the bacon as lightly as I dare. Even this has reduced the weight from 8oz to 5oz. Imagine if you only started with 4oz? One thing I will not do is clean out the frying pan. I need to extract every minimal amount of flavour I can get.

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And here it is. Frankly, the potato completely swamps the bacon. If what I have done here in any way represents the reality of the time then I think I would have despaired. There was always the black market option I suppose. If it were me, back then, I think I would have used the ration as a flavouring. Fried to nearly crispy, very finely diced and sprinkled onto other things to make them more palatable. How lucky we are.

This posting is dedicated to the good work of the Women’s Institute (soon to celebrate it’s centenary) the W.V.S. (later R.W.V.S) and the late, great Marguerite Patten CBE.