Friday, 8 July 2011

Healthy eating

The Old Bat does her very best to see that we eat a balanced diet. Breakfast consists of a bowl of cereal plus, for her Ladyship, a banana. I do like plenty of full cream milk (none of this skimmed or even semi-skimmed for us) and I will admit to being fairly liberal with the sugar on my cereal. However, I take little sugar otherwise: none in tea and just one teaspoon in coffee. Lunch is usually a couple of bread rolls (home made) with cheese, eggs, tuna, salmon or cold meat. For dinner we will eat a variety of meat or fish with, usually, two vegetables as well as potatoes (never chips). Very rarely do we eat fried food. Dessert is often fresh fruit.

A book I read recently made me wonder just how housewives coped during the Second World War. With food rationing so strict and some foods only occasionally available it must have been almost impossible to plan any sort of a menu more than ten minutes or so in advance. I have heard that the wartime diet was actually healthier than that of many people today but I have to wonder. By the end of the war, the weekly ration per person was:

Bacon and ham - 4 oz
Other meat to the value of 1s 2d, which bought just over 1 lb.
Tea - 2 oz
Sugar - 8 oz
Cheese - 2 oz (it had for a time been only 1 oz)
Butter - 2 oz
Margarine - 4 oz
Lard - 2 oz
Preserves, eg jam - 8 oz per month
Eggs - 1 per week when available, otherwise 1 packet egg powder per month (made 12 "eggs")
Milk - 3 pints, plus 1 tin milk powder (equivalent to 8 pints) every eight weeks

It was only after the war that bread and potatoes were rationed which must have been particularly gruelling. Of course, many fruits virtually disappeared during the war; oranges, bananas, lemons, pineapples, peaches etc being rarely found.

Which reminds me of the first orange I ever saw. It must have been about 1947, when I was 5. I was in hospital to have my tonsils removed and I, along with another boy a few years older than me, was in a ward of mainly elderly men. One of the nurses took pity on us youngsters and gave us each an orange. Never having seen one before, I didn't know what to do with this strange object but the boy in the next bed knew. He showed me how to bite a hole in the skin and suck out the juice inside before eating the pulp. I thoroughly enjoyed my first taste of this exotic fruit, but the nurse wasn't happy. She had intended us just to play with the fruit as if with a ball!

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