Home cooking during WWII

by Betty Wrenn Day - Posted on May 22, 2013 - 12:36 PM

Photo: The new cookbook “Bullets and Bread” recalls food restrictions and uses during World War II, when fighting men on the front lines got the best of America’s supplies and those at home put up with ration books and short supplies. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day

The new cookbook “Bullets and Bread” recalls food restrictions and uses during World War II, when fighting men on the front lines got the best of America’s supplies and those at home put up with ration books and short supplies. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day

There are always new cookbooks on the market. Some seem to be repetitious, some are way beyond the average American kitchen usage, and some can be the most useful you’ve ever owned. They come in many colors, shapes and sizes. But the most interesting and unusual cookbook, with its many good old-fashioned recipes, to come on the market in 2013 is "Bullets and Bread," the World War II story of feeding Americans at home and on the battlefield. Besides the recipes the book give a deep insight into how all Americans, home or abroad, cooked, ate and survived during the war years.

World War II, 1941-1945, was a period in this country’s history when citizens bound together and battled on the home front in full support, in various ways, for the fighting men on the battlefield. This book covers the four years of victory gardens, rations on the home front, field rations in the Pacific and in Europe, foodstuffs on boats, battleships and subdued dining halls in Washington, D.C. It was a pulling together of every citizen in a concerted effort to win the war, an effort fueled by food. General George Patton said, "—the soldier is the Army and his well being was predicated on his receiving better food than the enemy." They did get the better food often because Americans at home did without.

The author, Kent Whitaker, captures that remarkable team effort and brings voices of the past from foxholes and battleships and under what conditions they often ate. He tells of those who fought the war in factories and on farms and by often doing without and standing in line, with their coupon book in hand, for staples such as sugar, butter and coffee. Meat was a real treat. Remember Spam? During a 1942 broadcast from London, Edward R. Murrow commented, "Although the Christmas table will not be lavish, there will be Spam luncheon meat for everyone."