Wednesday, 25 June 2008

The Menu: Wartime Fare

Image taken from 20th Century Sparks

This week I wanted to take the time to talk about the bride on a budget and how to realize the perfect day without breaking the bank-and what with the credit crunch, it's always good to be savvy. 

When I plan a vintage wedding for a client, one of the best ways to draw from the era is to bring those elements into the menu-what was popular to eat at the time? how was the meal served and at what time etc.

The 1940s is an absolutely fascinating time from many different view points. As a keen cook, I love to read and try the various recipes the 40s housewife made in her kitchen during rationing. The period of rationing spanned from 1940 to 1954 and all meat and dairy products were heavily restricted with a weekly adult allowance of:

100g of bacon, ham and other meats
50g cheese and butter
3 pints of milk
225g sugar
1 egg a week (dried was also available in packets)
50g of tea

I could go on but you can get an idea of what they were up against in the kitchen. The best part of the war effort on the food front however, was the sheer abundance of fruit and vegetables which weren't rationed and therefore you could 'Dig for Victory' and eat as much as you liked. 

Image taken from Home Sweet Homefront

The numbers of couples marrying increased between 1939 and 1945, indicating that life was lived for the moment in very uncertain times. Weddings were kept incredibly simple (often arranged at the drop of a hat) and receptions were kept to a small celebration, perhaps with a little cake and wine. 

If you want to inject a 40s feel into your wedding breakfast, you needn't stick exactly to the rationing rules, rather take inspiration from it. If you can find it, get hold of a copy of Marguerite Pattern's 'We'll Eat Again' published in association with the Imperial War Museum. Packed full of popular recipes and government advice, you really are spoilt for choice and what works well is that everything is easily achievable on a shoe string-perfect for the budget bride.

Opt for a V.E Day style street party with a finger buffet. A typical party for adults and children would include:

A selection of sandwiches-cheese and dates, cheese and carrot and egg mayonnaise.
Cakes, tarts and biscuits-ginger honey buns, chocolate cake.
Jellies, trifle and sometimes ice cream.
Beer, cider and orange and lemon squash.
Good old fashioned tea!

Tea party wedding receptions are really popular at the moment with this explosion of vintage. They allow your guests to mingle and chat while indulging in the communal act of eating and the abundance of choice means there's something for everyone. Collect or hire vintage china, hang some bunting and choose some floral or lace tablecloths to decorate your tables.

I hope you've found this piece inspiring enough to help with your own wedding plans!

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