We couldn’t post a blog on the 75th anniversary of VE Day without acknowledging the importance of the day.
Pre-Coronavirus (do you remember life before Covid-19?) there were big plans to celebrate over the bank holiday weekend, but unfortunately the lock-down has put paid to this.
However, we’ve always been a resourceful nation, the way we responded during World War Two being a perfect example, so we’re certainly not about to let a global pandemic prevent us from remembering the sacrifices (and in many cases the ultimate sacrifice) people made in defence of their country.
So, it’s been pleasing to see how we have adjusted since discovering that the VE Day celebrations would need to be observed in a social distancing and safe way.
Whether it’s virtual street parties using video conferencing, online World War Two cookery classes, themed activities for children to do at home, or just watching programmes on TV, there’s no reason why you can’t still have a great time celebrating such an important milestone in our history.
Food, and no doubt a drop or two of alcohol, as always will play a big part in the celebrations, after all it is a bank holiday, so we thought we would look at some of the food that was eaten at VE Day celebrations in 1945.
Like all parties, sandwiches were the order of the day on 8th May 1945, but rationing mean fillings were rather scarce, so many people made do with dripping sandwiches. Yes, you heard us correctly, that was bread smothered in the white and brown sludge left in the pan after you had cooked some beef. Those ham and cheese sandwiches no don’t look as boring as you thought do they?
Offal was also common in war-time dishes, again because meat was fairly scarce, so a popular dish were faggots served with mash and vegetables, the latter two being in abundance due to all the home gardening taking place during the war. It’s funny that offal has now become a staple at top Michelin starred restaurants; you just need to pay more for it than in 1945. A lot more!
So there’s a starter (sandwiches), main (offal) but what about dessert? how about an egg-free fruit cake? No, this wasn’t because people were following egg-free diets back in the good old days; it was simply because they were also rationed so you had to learn to bake without them, oh and often sugar too; hence the use of the fruit to sweeten the cake.
Hang on, we hear you say, wasn’t May supposed to end with a Mexican recipe? How are you going to link VE Day with Mexico then? Well, thanks to the wonder of Wikipedia, we’ve discovered the surprising role Mexico played in the war supporting the Allies and with many Mexican men joining the US Army to fight in Europe. They brought with them recipes from home, which obviously stuck when they returned, so thank you Mexico for your service and your food!
- Sunflower oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 500g beef steak mince
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp hot chilli powder
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 x tin kidney beans, drained
- 75ml beef stock
- 4 tbsp chopped coriander, plus extra to garnish
- 8 x flour tortillas
- 200g Cheddar cheese, grated
- Heat the sunflower oil in a saucepan over a medium-high heat ans cook the onion and garlic until soft. Add the beef mince and cook until browned
- Stir in the cumin, paprika, chilli powder and tomato purée. Add the chopped tomatoes, kidney beans and stock, stir and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 30 mins until thickened.
- Stir in the coriander and spoon the beef filling into the centre of the tortillas. Scatter half the cheese down the filling, then fold the sides of the tortillas in to create the burritos. Arrange them closely together on a baking tray and top with the remaining grated cheese.
- Grill for 1-2 mins until the cheese has melted and the filling is hot, Serve with soured cream or creme fraiche if you wish.