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Wildfood.info • View topic - A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Out of the main bustle of the Coffee shop this is where people gather to share recipes and tips/tricks.

A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby suffolk » January 12th, 2020, 11:54 am

This article is in a local newspaper https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/st-peters-s ... -1-6461933

Given that food rationing in some form was in existence from 1940 - 1954, what items would you expect to see on the menu?

Do you think the project will be a success?
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby scullion » January 12th, 2020, 12:01 pm

salty, hard, utility bread - and margarine? acorn or chicory coffee?

i think the decor will be 40's - but i think the food and drink may be a little less authentic!
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby StokeySue » January 12th, 2020, 12:14 pm

The National loaf was grey...

Parsnip jam?

Coffee was actually available throughout the war, rationed only by price, a friend’s mother didn’t drink tea but being reasonably flush drank coffee for the duration.
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby Herbidacious » January 12th, 2020, 12:21 pm

Gosh hard to tell if it will work or not without knowing Ipswich. It might work better in a 'tourist town'. Is Ipswich a tourist town?

If it opens, I would go if/when I am next able to get there to go ancestor hunting :)

Googling, there are a few such places in the UK at the moment, but their menues don't look terribly authentically 1940s. I suspect an inevitable morph into things that suit more modern expectations is almost inevitable, if money is to be made. They have opened various English teashops near our house in France, over the years, and the only one that's survived is the one that began to include French meals on it's menu i.e. people want what they can normally have. But that's France (or rural Normandy) for you, perhaps.

The Home Front tearoom in Ramsgate sound more '40s than some other such establishments:

"We serve sandwiches, including spam, corned beef and other popular fillings, jacket potatoes and items on toast, pilchards being our best seller. Our tasty treats include jelly, fruit cocktail or peaches with either ice cream, custard or evaporated milk. We also serve scones, crumpets and teacakes, 17 different teas, various coffees including camp coffee, Ovaltine and Bovril. Our range of cold drinks include Lemon Barley water, Vimto cordial, Tizer and lashings of Ginger Beer."

But... I am not saying that this place embodies this, but I think most people don't really want the past served up in an authentic form. They want a contemporary version of the past. A pastiche. Fabrics in the 70s were not, I think, as swirly, and certainly not as colourful, as young people going to 70s parties think they were. etc.
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby StokeySue » January 12th, 2020, 12:31 pm

I found a 1941 menu for a Woolworths restaurant

Remember, the portions would have been small by 2020 standards

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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby suffolk » January 12th, 2020, 12:38 pm

I suspect you’ve hit the nail on its head Herbi ... the last thing folk want is authenticity ... they want a prettied up version ... I doubt the café will be serving tinned pilchard sandwiches.

Ipswich has some fine tourist attractions and is surrounded by glorious rural scenery and coastline, but historically it’s very much a port town and very mixed ... gentrified agro-industrialists (millers and brewers etc ), former village families who moved to the town for work when jobs for farm workers became scarce, folks who resettled from London after the war, a high proportion of folk like SSIL’s family who arrived as part of the Windrush generation, lots of folk from Holland, Belgium etc and quite a high number of Portuguese and Romanian and Hungarian Roma compared with surrounding areas.
Last edited by suffolk on January 12th, 2020, 1:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby aero280 » January 12th, 2020, 1:04 pm

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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby earthmaiden » January 12th, 2020, 1:16 pm

I think the whole thing is a bit of a shame. Herbi is right, people will only want a sanitised version and the realities of history will be lost. In the worst part of the '40s there was no dried fruit, eggs only if you had chickens etc. If I am paying to go out to tea I want something that's a bit of a treat, not powdered egg and National loaf. I do like pilchards on toast though :). I hope it works for them.
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby cyprusmoira » January 12th, 2020, 1:55 pm

The Woolworth's menu shows that lobster was more easily available then even allowing that Blackpool is on the coast.

When I worked in the book swap I remember browsing through a memoir written by a genuine wartime Eastender. The family was partially supported by an uncle who ran a genuine Cafe, their main dish was usually Liver & Bacon, liver being offal was off ration. It was mainly patronised by those who did not have cooking facilities or who could not cook.

For the record , my Mother maintained that you could make a decent omelette from powdered egg but only if you followed the instructions on the tin,

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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby aero280 » January 12th, 2020, 1:57 pm

A 1940s cafe might turn out to be a gastropub, if the only alternative is chlorinated chicken!! :o
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby Busybee » January 12th, 2020, 2:15 pm

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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby Seatallan » January 12th, 2020, 2:19 pm

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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby suffolk » January 12th, 2020, 2:20 pm

I like tinned sardines and pilchards in oil or brine or in a mustard sauce, but can’t abide the ones in tomato sauce :sprout:
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby Pepper Pig » January 12th, 2020, 2:45 pm

My earliest memories of sandwiches would have been around 1958. Banana featured, as did Golden Syrup. Fish paste was a staple. Hot Bovril was a treat after early morning swimming,

When was Sandwich Spread invented?
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby Suelle » January 12th, 2020, 3:10 pm

Pilchards in tomato sauce was a Sunday treat for us, with bread and marge. It was usually a choice between that or tinned fruit and cream - having both wasn't an option.

A 40s café could be very traditional with the cake options, and might prove very popular - scones, shortbread, flapjacks, Victoria Sandwich, fruit cake, Battenburg. What do they all have in common? They're not topped with the tons of buttercream that double the calorie content without improving the substance of the cake.

It could easily be a vegetarian restaurant too, serving all the wartime options for when meat was on ration - Woolton Pie? - and make a feature of not wasting anything.

I suspect
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby suffolk » January 12th, 2020, 4:00 pm

Our Sunday tea for visitors in the fifties could have included fish or meat paste sandwiches, tinned salmon and cucumber, egg and cress, pressed ox tongue and mustard or sliced liver sausage in sandwiches or buttered bridge rolls.
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby Prettykiwicrazy » January 12th, 2020, 6:24 pm

I think it’d be quite cool to do 1940s with a modern spin . Homemade fish pate instead of fish paste , spam croquettes instead of fritters , some more modern flavours of scones , fresh sardines in tomato sauce on bruschetta , maybe a varied range of tea , all served in china teapots
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby wargarden » January 12th, 2020, 6:37 pm

will the staff dress in faux 1940-54 clothes and hair styles.
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby Suelle » January 12th, 2020, 10:09 pm

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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby Herbidacious » January 12th, 2020, 10:11 pm

I think that would be essential, Wargarden :D

And what about the music...?
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby wargarden » January 12th, 2020, 11:53 pm

Herbidacious music will be essential. hopefully the recipes are similar.
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby wargarden » January 13th, 2020, 5:28 am

will the cafe serve the much bandied about milk pudding and other food facts 1940-1954
Uk delicacies. will they serve food that uses dehydrated ingredients like powdered milk, eggs and etc.
spam or salted fish as proteins. Limit the vegetables to the only three reported to be available:
cabbage potatoes and cabbage . will meals or dishes cost period prices. will they have air-raids,
black-outs and bilz reenactments. Just curious.
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby StokeySue » January 13th, 2020, 8:50 am

Hopefully they won’t serve tinned snoek, a South African mackerel-like fish that was apparently unpleasant in its canned form though fresh smoked is delicious

And they won’t be able to serve whale meat due to restrictions.or authentic margarine as the kind eaten during WW2 is no longer made

I’m not sure I really see the point of a café that harks back to a notoriously low point in our food history, great to do it as a one off for VE Day or similar, but for more than a week long pop-up?
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby earthmaiden » January 13th, 2020, 9:06 am

As others have said, I suspect it will be the decor rather than the food. People's expectations are so different nowadays. It would be nice if wartime rations were highlighted in some way though, even if only the occasional 'educational' day.
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby Pepper Pig » January 13th, 2020, 11:23 am

Egg and bacon pie.
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby StokeySue » January 13th, 2020, 12:22 pm

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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby Herbidacious » January 13th, 2020, 12:26 pm

The clothes were nice! :) Not so sure about the music. Evocative, but might get on one's nerves after a bit.
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby suffolk » January 13th, 2020, 12:33 pm

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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby Pepper Pig » January 13th, 2020, 1:03 pm

It's a bit like the cat cafés that have sprung up around London. Very niche. Probably too niche.
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby earthmaiden » January 13th, 2020, 4:09 pm

DD has been to a cat cafe.

My mother went to a posh do at the Dorchester during rationing - wearing a very chic hat made from a sanitary towel.
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby suffolk » January 13th, 2020, 4:56 pm

“I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” —Winnie-the-Pooh
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby Amber » January 13th, 2020, 10:39 pm

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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby Badger's mate » January 14th, 2020, 9:10 am

Sainsbury's used to sell proper bacon and egg pie, it was always a treat I recall.
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby MagicMarmite » January 14th, 2020, 1:43 pm

My daughter and her boyfriend go to the cat cafe in Glasgow fairly often, she really misses living with our cats.
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby wargarden » January 14th, 2020, 4:04 pm

i have recipe from the 1930-49 for bacon and egg pie
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby Seatallan » January 14th, 2020, 5:48 pm

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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby wargarden » January 14th, 2020, 6:14 pm

i have recipes from both eras.
the world war 2 era recipe uses powdered eggs.
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby suffolk » January 14th, 2020, 6:20 pm

I like some whole eggs in a bacon and egg pie.
Powdered eggs would have produced a very disappointing pie, but according to Ma a lot of 40’s food was ‘disappointing’. :rolleyes:
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby earthmaiden » January 14th, 2020, 8:36 pm

I have never had bacon and egg pie. I had to look it up earlier to discover, once and for all, how the ingredients were presented. Whole eggs appear to be de rigueur or it would be a quiche with a lid.
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby wargarden » January 14th, 2020, 9:30 pm

suffolk 40’s food was to keep you alive it was not a fancy affair.
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby suffolk » January 14th, 2020, 9:51 pm

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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby miss mouse » January 15th, 2020, 2:25 am

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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby Gruney » January 15th, 2020, 6:40 am

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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby suffolk » January 15th, 2020, 7:19 am

Broken biscuits ... in compartments behind a glass counter in the food hall at Footman & Pretty (now Debenhams) in Ipswich. Scooped up with a metal scoop and put into brown paper bags.
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby earthmaiden » January 15th, 2020, 8:09 am

Woolworths biscuits.... :chops:
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby aero280 » January 15th, 2020, 9:24 am

I think that we were quite lucky in the 40s. My father was a credit trader and had a company car and travelled around Cornwall collecting money. The business was built in the inter-war years when most people had no car, so outlying farms relied on people coming to them. As a result we got a few things directly from the farms. Clotted cream was one, plus eggs, chicken and stuff. My grandfather had an office next to the fish quay in Plymouth and brought home random fish from time to time, usually the more expensive ones unsold at the end of the day. He also came from a farming family who would send the odd bit of game down from N. Devon on the bus.

But I remember being sent to the local shops with a 10 shilling note, a shopping list and a ration book. I still remember my mother's Coop number, and my grandmother's one too.
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby Seatallan » January 15th, 2020, 1:34 pm

Food, Felines and Fells (in no particular order)
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby Pepper Pig » January 15th, 2020, 4:03 pm

Was junket available immediately after the war? Am thinking of the dessert menu. My “afters” when I was small were either junket, or ground rice/semolina with a spoonful of nana’s jam in the middle. We had apple pie or similar on a Sunday.
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby earthmaiden » January 15th, 2020, 5:05 pm

This gives the rationing allowances: https://www.historic-uk.com/CultureUK/R ... d-War-Two/

I think if there was enough sugar and milk to spare and if you could get rennet, that junket would have been on the menu. I certainly had it from as early as I can remember but rationing ended when I was only a few months old. As you suggest, it felt as though it had always been around!
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Re: A 1940s café ... what would you put on the menu?

Postby miss mouse » January 15th, 2020, 10:11 pm

But even after rationing ended (1954 as I recall) the food was appalling for most of us. The UK was broke and struggling for a long long time.
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