Warfare is pretty brutal. World War II, in particular was one of the worst in human history, and resulted in millions of unnecessary deaths. One of lesser talked aspects of WWII was the food shortages that arose when the Germans attacked ships carrying food, with the goal of weakening the enemy by starving its civilians. The US and UK combated this problem by rationing what little food was left and finding some creative ways to recreate old recipes. It didn’t always work out as planned though. Here are five examples of insane WWII food substitutes.
1. National Loaf
In 1942, the British government flat out banned wheat coming from Canada in order to make cargo space for more important things like ammunition. White bread was no more, so they created the national loaf using their own wheat which was less refined. They even left in the bran that would otherwise be removed, giving the bread a really gritty texture like sawdust, a tough crust and an ugly gray appearance. Gross would be an understatement to describe how awful the national loaf was. Civilians hated it so much that they nicknamed it “Hitler’s secret weapon.”
2. Powdered Egg
Rationing was a big deal during wartime, and the average Brit was only able to receive one egg as part of his weekly ration. If they had their own chickens, then the egg would be replaced with chicken feed. But as food continued to dwindle, the British government started importing powdered eggs from America. The problem? It was awful – the public absolutely detested it and just about everyone struggled to adjust to the weird texture when it was mixed with water. People managed to incorporate it in the omelets, cakes and custards, but it still paled in comparison to the real thing.
3. Eggless Mayonnaise
As mentioned earlier, eggs were one of the many foods that were hard to find. This made it difficult to produce many of the dishes that we take for granted today. People simply made do with what they had available and it gave birth to some rather strange alternatives. Like eggless mayonnaise made with none other than potato, oil and fat seasoned with strong flavors like vinegar and mustard. The ingredients were mixed into a smooth sauce that barely resembled mayonnaise. Still way better than eggless mayonnaise!
4. Potato Pastry
Potatoes were one of the few ingredients that were widely available during WWII because they were so easy to grow. The British government was keen on not letting their citizens starve to death, so they sent out leaflets containing various recipes from simple baked potato to weird dishes like potato pastry. Ran out of flour? Using only potato, salt and fat, you could have your very own pie crust alternative. The downside was that reheating it meant the pastry would become dry and flaky.
At the time, German U-boats dominated the seas and made importing cooking fat from East Asia and Africa extremely difficult and what little they did get was used to make gunpowder. The government tried to make their own margarine and like the national loaf, the national margarine was a total miss. So people started saving fat wherever they could, including the leftover fat that was released from the joint of meat during cooking. This was called dripping and it was a staple in British kitchens for several years. Nothing was spared, not even the thick layer of fat in American tinned sausage meat.
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