Wednesday, 10 February 2010


I finally had the much-craved pizza. With four cheeses. And olives. And jalapeño peppers. Oh, but it was nice.

But now it's back to versions of rationed foods before rationing kicks back in in a week and a half. So today it's fish (and faux fish for me) made using the recipe from last month - baked white fish in bacon breadcrumbs.

This recipe won't be possible under the 1945 rations: 8oz of bacon a week becomes 4oz, effectively 4 slices. These 4 slices will feel slightly wasted if two are used just as a breadcrumb flavouring. However, if I ate meat (or fish, for that matter) it'd make more sense: this recipe produces a huge helping, enough for two if you ratchet up the vegetable sides a bit.

This recipe does make very good use of the fat in it - a knob of marg and that in the bacon - by soaking it into the bread and then releasing it into the fish as it bakes. Rationed food often tries to make a lot from a little when it comes to fat. The majority of people in the Western world are either carefully watching their fat intake or should be. Manufacturers also watch fat carefully, trying to get as much in as possible into most foods, often in hidden (and dangerous) ways.

Rationing has had me look at fat from the opposite direction: instead of fearing it, counting its calories or failing to notice it, I have (and this metaphor doesn't work) embraced it. With a need for some fat, if only to start off most recipes, but almost none available, I use it carefully, wisely even, and get pleasure from using the least possible and reusing it whenever I can.

I'm now carefully watching my fat intake, but in order to eke it out or even increase it where possible. This is actually a luxury; but anyone wanting to lose weight should consider such a different view. It'd make a change from the sight of larger people filling a trolley to bursting with "diet" and "low fat" foods: if you buy and eat 5 "low fat" cup soups in one go, you don't lose weight - you still get a lot of fat and don't get filled up. So you snack, getting a still greater fat intake; and next week you buy even more "low fat" food and eat more of it... all without losing weight.

I suppose this is really an argument for cooking from fresh rather than buying ready meals. I know not everyone can cook; and not everyone has time to cook. But food isn't just a refueling exercise. Learn to cook just one meal well and you've learned to cook anything. 90% of cooking is confidence (and the other 10% is presentation).

If only we in Britain hadn't got rid of home economics lessons to save money. It has cost us so much more.

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