Welcome to Week 3 of the Online Book Club discussion of Home Fires.
Much of this section centered on rationing. Wasn't it interesting to read about all the restrictions and things people did to grow more food? I enjoyed reading how people were so creative and industrious. I thought it was interesting that the rationing was the same for everyone regardless of social status or job. That probably helped to reduce tension because everyone was affected, not just the poor or the working class. The potato concoctions people were able to create surprised me, and I was shocked that people were so desperate to grow onions. I wouldn't think onions would be so important, but I can understand that they added a lot of flavor to otherwise bland dishes.
What did you think about the sections about pig slaughtering? All of the rules about how many pigs one could slaughter and when were a little confusing to me. I enjoyed the anecdote about the family that hid hams in bed with the wife so they wouldn't get in trouble with the Ministry of Food. What did you think of some of the pork recipes, especially the black pudding made from half of a pig's head? I love the idea of using every part of an animal, but I don't know if I would be brave enough to actually do it!
The Rural District Pie Scheme really intrigued me. Did you notice that one woman had to deliver 600 pies on her bicycle? That would be quite a trick! Hopefully, she had a big cart, so she didn't have to make 100 trips. Check out this blog post if you're interested to see some recipes for pies from 1938. Maybe some of these recipes were used by the people mentioned in the book!
Throughout this section, the villagers collected things to aid in the war effort. Collecting herbs for medicines made sense to me, but I was surprised by the need for animal bones. I had never heard that fats from the bones could be used in explosives or grease for guns. Did you notice that they also collected rags, paper, and insulation material? Does hearing about all the things they collected make you think about how much we waste?
The last chapter in this section focuses on jam. Preserving fruit was a great way to keep it fresh and usable throughout the year, and give people calories they needed. The Women's Institute gives some jam recipes you can try. Also, check out these posters from World War II that encouraged women to can and preserve. The artwork is pretty cool!
If you're having a hard time imagining daily life during the 1940's, watch the above clip about a modern woman who is living as if she were still in the 1940s. This video shows another British citizen who is doing the same thing. Do you think you could live like these two people? Do you think you could forgo modern conveniences?
If you're really intrigued by the idea of modern people living as if they were in the past, check out 1940s House, a British reality show that completely immerses a family in a World War II household. This series ties in really well with Home Fires. It even talks about raising rabbits for meat, just like this section did!
What other parts of this section really stood out to you? Were you amazed by the abilities of the women? Do you think you could do all the work that the women did? Please make sure to let me know what you thought of this section by leaving a comment in the comments section.
I hope you're able to finish the book for next week's discussion. I can't wait to hear what you thought.