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Jim_Grundy

Three Course Meals

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Jim_Grundy

I am fascinated by the extent to which the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) regulated so much of ordinary life during the war. I thought I'd share this newspaper article reporting the introduction of controls on three course meals from 18th December 1916:

“MEATLESS DAYS COMING

“Board of Trade Announces Early Issue of Order

“THREE-COURSE DINNERS

“The Board of Trade has made an order under the Defence of the Realm Regulations regulating meals in hotels, restaurants, and other places of public eating.

“Except with the express authority of the Board of Trade no articles of food shall be served or consumed in any:

Inn, Refreshment house, Mess,

Hotel, Boarding house, Canteen,

Restaurant,Club,Hall,

or any place of public eating in the form of or as part of a meal consisting of more than three courses if the meal begins between 6 p.m. and 9.30 p.m., or of more than two courses if the meal begins at any other time.

“Plain cheese shall not be regarded as a course and hors d’oeuvres (not containing any preserved or freshly cooked fish, meat, poultry, or game), dessert (consisting only of raw and dried fruit), and soup prepared in the ordinary way which does not contain any meat, poultry, or game in a solid form shall each be computed as half a course.

“Any person eating in contravention of the above provision is guilty of a summary offence against the Defence of the Realm Regulations.

“The order will apply to Great Britain and Ireland and will not come into force until December 18th 1916 [next Monday week].

“It is proposed shortly after to make a further order prohibiting both in places of public eating and in private houses, the consumption on certain days of meat, poultry, and game.”

‘Nottingham Evening News’, 6th December 1916

I wonder how many people accused diners of having FOUR courses?!

Cheers,

Jim

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Magnumbellum

For the unwary, it should be made clear that this is obviously a spoof.

As a rider, I would add that not even the spoofer clalmed the authority of DORA, but only a (necessarily unspecified) Regulation purportedly made under a DORA.

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Jim_Grundy

A spoof? Really?

Perhaps I should post the photograph of the original article.

The point is that this was just part of the measures introduced before rationing proper was introduced. The Government didn't want to intervene in free trade and asked that people voluntarily cut down consumption, supported by the introduction of some controls on eating out - it was probably no more than an attempt to ward off accusations that the rich were bypassing the request for moderation because they were able to afford to eat outside of the home, so 'controls' on the scope of meals available were introduced. Silly? Unlikely? We have the same thing today - 'we're all in it together'.

As hard to believe as it might be, at the same time it was far from a spoof that buying rounds was banned. Unenforceable? Ludicrous? Nevertheless, it happened.

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Scalyback

Yet no restriction on the hunting of rabbits?

If a ration was to be imposed, then surely you would ration the supply to start with?

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centurion

If a ration was to be imposed, then surely you would ration the supply to start with?

Rationing is introduced when supply is already restricted and is intended to ensure that the well to do not get an 'unfair' share and suppliers do not make large windfall profits due to the restriction of supply.

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Scalyback

Rabbit meat is easy to come by. DORA makes no mention of restrictions of shooting rabbits.

Why have the non meat days when there is an easy source that has not been restricted?

Understand rationing and mechanics of it.

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centurion

Rabbit meat is easy to come by. DORA makes no mention of restrictions of shooting rabbits.

Why have the non meat days when there is an easy source that has not been restricted?

Understand rationing and mechanics of it.

Even by 1916 the majority of the population was urban and could not shoot rabbits. The supply of rabbits was not limited by submarine warfare. Rabbits were not in anycase plentiful everywhere in the countryside at that time. Rabbits were by and large irrelevant to meal restrictions (which are not the same as rationing). Why are you rabbiting on about them?

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John_Hartley

For the unwary, it should be made clear that this is obviously a spoof.

I'm very wary. I'm unsure if you are suggesting that the spoofer is Jim or the newspaper. Could you clarify please.

Assuming that you meant the newspaper, you make the statement with what appears to be absolute certainty and, having an interest in food during the war, am interested to know the evidence for your conclusion. It is not as though this was an April 1 article in the newspaper.

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centurion

I'm very wary. I'm unsure if you are suggesting that the spoofer is Jim or the newspaper. Could you clarify please.

Assuming that you meant the newspaper, you make the statement with what appears to be absolute certainty and, having an interest in food during the war, am interested to know the evidence for your conclusion. It is not as though this was an April 1 article in the newspaper.

I have a feeling that unless it was in Punch or similar obviously humorous publication publishing a spoof purporting to be an official announcement would have landed an editor in very hot water indeed.

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Magnumbellum

I'm very wary. I'm unsure if you are suggesting that the spoofer is Jim or the newspaper. Could you clarify please.

Assuming that you meant the newspaper, you make the statement with what appears to be absolute certainty and, having an interest in food during the war, am interested to know the evidence for your conclusion. It is not as though this was an April 1 article in the newspaper.

Albeit that the date is not 1 April, it is still significant. As any student of British involvement in the Great War is likely to know, 6 December 1916 was the date of the second significant change of government during the war, when, after manoeuvring Herbert Asquith out, David Lloyd George became Prime Minister. With the consequent reshuffle of the government, including the creation for the first time of an inner War Cabinet, it is a most unlikely date for a detailed regulatory innovation of the kind purportedly indicated.

Corroborative evidence for the unlikel;ihood of its veracity is the fact that no minister is named as making the announcement, but simply the purported Board of Trade. The difficulty of naming an actual mniister, apart from the potentiality of a libel action, was that the Presidency of the Board of Trade was invol;ved in the reshiffle, Walter Runciman stepping down. Nor was it as simple as his successor making the announcemenr, as Lloyd George took the opportunity of the reshuffle to create a new Ministry of Food Control, with Viscount Davenport as Minister. This increases the unlikelihood of a any food regulatory anouncement being made by the Board of Trade instead of the new Ministry created for such a purpose, it was, indeed, the new Ministry which imposed food rationing shortly afterwards.

Further corraborative evidence is provided by the omission in the purported announcement of any title for the purported regulation. All such regulations have a defined title for ease of reference and identification among scores of statutory instriments.

Yet further evidence is the use of the cumbersome phraseology "the order will not come into force until" instead of the standard and straightforward, , "the order will come into force on".

All this is apart from the sheer nonsence that the puported order could be effectively enforced, let alone the stated intention of a further order prohibiting the consumption of meat in private houses on certain days, and the lack of reference to the purported order in any known accounts of the war.

The whole nature of it reads as a spoof, intended to be taken as such, and its relevance is as a commentary on the hated DORA and regulations made under it in general; part of the background may well have been speculation about the imposition of food rationing, and this might have been one persion's exaggerated impression of the working of proposed rationing.

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John_Hartley

Thanks for the response. It prompted me to nosy around a little more. The Times (of London) also carries the same story on 6 December, citing that it is the "Regulation of Meals Order 1916". There's a further article, on the 19th, reflecting on the first day of the new Order. I think I trust the Times not to be spoofing.

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Jim_Grundy

Thanks for the reference from The Times, John. Really useful.

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centurion

Albeit that the date is not 1 April, it is still significant. As any student of British involvement in the Great War is likely to know, 6 December 1916 was the date of the second significant change of government during the war, when, after manoeuvring Herbert Asquith out, David Lloyd George became Prime Minister. With the consequent reshuffle of the government, including the creation for the first time of an inner War Cabinet, it is a most unlikely date for a detailed regulatory innovation of the kind purportedly indicated.

Corroborative evidence for the unlikel;ihood of its veracity is the fact that no minister is named as making the announcement, but simply the purported Board of Trade. The difficulty of naming an actual mniister, apart from the potentiality of a libel action, was that the Presidency of the Board of Trade was invol;ved in the reshiffle, Walter Runciman stepping down. Nor was it as simple as his successor making the announcemenr, as Lloyd George took the opportunity of the reshuffle to create a new Ministry of Food Control, with Viscount Davenport as Minister. This increases the unlikelihood of a any food regulatory anouncement being made by the Board of Trade instead of the new Ministry created for such a purpose, it was, indeed, the new Ministry which imposed food rationing shortly afterwards.

Further corraborative evidence is provided by the omission in the purported announcement of any title for the purported regulation. All such regulations have a defined title for ease of reference and identification among scores of statutory instriments.

Yet further evidence is the use of the cumbersome phraseology "the order will not come into force until" instead of the standard and straightforward, , "the order will come into force on".

All this is apart from the sheer nonsence that the puported order could be effectively enforced, let alone the stated intention of a further order prohibiting the consumption of meat in private houses on certain days, and the lack of reference to the purported order in any known accounts of the war.

The whole nature of it reads as a spoof, intended to be taken as such, and its relevance is as a commentary on the hated DORA and regulations made under it in general; part of the background may well have been speculation about the imposition of food rationing, and this might have been one persion's exaggerated impression of the working of proposed rationing.

To quote Arthur Dent "what a load of dingo's kidneys" (presumably only controlled on Australian menus.) Any editor producing a spoof of this nature would be subject to prosecution under the 1915 DORA act regulation 27 "false reports likely to cause disaffection" as a number of editors were in 1915.

Parts of the DORA acts of 1915 and 1916 did indeed give responsibility of a number of controls on food and drink to the BoT.

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Jim_Grundy

...and the lack of reference to the purported order in any known accounts of the war.

If you read contemporary newspapers of the time you will find them full of accounts of 'meatless days' and the like from late 1916 onwards. Further, those who supported prohibition, for example, took that for their example and suppported 'beerless days'.

As unlikely as some things might appear to a modern audience, there is a difference between 'any known account' and only those accounts known to any individual.

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centurion

If you read contemporary newspapers of the time you will find them full of accounts of 'meatless days' and the like from late 1916 onwards.

Often referred to as Banyan days from the old nautical phrase (which has since changed its meaning). My grandparents still used the term when I was a lad to mean a meatless day.

"Banyan days are a British naval tradition that has changed meaning over the years. It originally was used to name that day of the week where no meat was served on board ship. It now is used to describe a picnic or cookout for the ship's crew)"

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centurion

The Smithfield marketmen were not overly amused.

post-9885-0-48877700-1324206995.jpg

London clubs responded. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F30A16FF395F1B7A93C1AB1789D85F438185F9

A popular song "My Meatless Day" was written and recorded in 1917 by Ernie Mayne . It is available for down load on a number of sites.

When she entered the war the USA followed suit US meatless

Books were publish with meatless days menus and recipies eg from "Foods That Will Win the War and How to Cook Them" (1918)

Breakfast

Baked Pears with Cloves and Ginger

Cornmeal and Farina Cereal

Coffee

Toast

Luncheon or Supper

Welsh Rarebit

Hot Tea

Fruit Muffins

Lettuce Salad

Dinner

Cream of Corn Soup

Baked Fish

Macaroni with Tomato Sauce

Whole Wheat Bread

Lyonnaise Potatoes

Orange Sago Custard

Breakfast

Dried Peaches

Fried Hominy

Marmalade

Coffee

Popovers

Luncheon or Supper

Bean Soup

Lettuce Salad

Cheese Straws

Olives

Dinner

Chicken Fricassee

Dumplings

Baked Squash

Peas

Cranberry Jelly

Barley Muffins

Mock Mince Pie

Breakfast

Oranges

Pearled Barley

Top Milk

Currant Jelly

Rye Bread Toasted

Coffee

Luncheon or Supper

Mixed Vegetable Salad

Boston Brown Bread

Hot Tea

Dinner

Clam Chowder

Spinach and Cheese Loaf

Carrots

Creamed Cauliflower

Oatmeal Nut Bread

Spice Pudding

Hard Sauce

More evidence needed?

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keithfazzani

I imagine that to many of the time the "meatless day" menu suggestions would have been riches beyond their wildest imaginings. I see chicken was regarded as "non-meat", chicken was a luxury well into the second half of the 20th century. Those who wrote these books obviously had the middle class in mind.

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Jim_Grundy

I have a pre-war copy of Mrs. Beeton. In it the recipes are priced per serving. Looking at the cost of some of the meals, it'd be quite easy to spend more than one week's entire food budget for a working class family on one meal.

The whole premise of the 'meatless day', it seems to me, was to show that 'everyone' was making a sacrifice; more of a propaganda and morale issue than a serious attempt to make limited supplies go further, let alone to ensure their equitable distribution.

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centurion

I imagine that to many of the time the "meatless day" menu suggestions would have been riches beyond their wildest imaginings. I see chicken was regarded as "non-meat", chicken was a luxury well into the second half of the 20th century. Those who wrote these books obviously had the middle class in mind.

Actually chicken became a luxury in WW2 and this continued through the post war austerity period. Before WW1 whilst not the cheap meat that it is today it was not such a rarety and often featured as a Sunday roast.. However I would agree that the menus are middle class orientated.

Fish was also regarded as not meat and there was some criticism in Britain and the USA of Roman Catholic institutions that selected Friday as their meatless day - this was thought to be "not playing the game" (American comments were a little more robust).

It's strange how foods wander in and out of luxury categories. At one time oysters were regarded as something only poor people ate (and whisky was only drunk in England if you couldn't afford brandy or even gin).

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centurion

I have a pre-war copy of Mrs. Beeton. In it the recipes are priced per serving. Looking at the cost of some of the meals, it'd be quite easy to spend more than one week's entire food budget for a working class family on one meal. Some are amazingly cheap though

The whole premise of the 'meatless day', it seems to me, was to show that 'everyone' was making a sacrifice; more of a propaganda and morale issue than a serious attempt to make limited supplies go further, let alone to ensure their equitable distribution.

More than that I think. By 1913 the UK imported 22,831,000 cwts (1,116,550 Imperial or long tons) of meat per year mainly from South America and Australia (40% of total consumption). The consumption of meat per head per year was 127.6 lbs (just under 2.5 lbs per person per week). On top of that domestic meat production was greatly dependent on imported grain (North America and Australia) apart from foreign exchange issues this must have required a formidable tonnage of shipping and shipping in wartime was at a premium, especially when the U boats got going. Shipping didn't just cost money it cost lives. Regardless of who got to eat the meat cutting consumption by one day a week would reduce this by one 7th (more if you can concentrate consumption onto domestic supplied sources) - well worth trying.

Edit. Today meat consumption per head per week in the UK is about 2 lbs per week - less than it was in 1913.

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NigelS

If you thought the DORA edicts on meal courses were harsh, the 'Cake and Pastry' Order of 1917 appears more Draconian (but obviously necessary by that stage of the war); from The Times of April 19th of that year:

TEA SHOP RATIONS.

PROHIBITION OF CAKES AND MUFFINS.

SUGAR AND FLOUR LIMITS.

The Cake and Pastry Order made by Lord Devonport under the Defence of the Realm Regulations and issued last night provides that, except under the Food Controller's authority, no person shall after April 21 make or attempt to make for sale, or after April 24 sell or offer to sell or have in his possession for sale:-

(a ) Any crumpet, muffin, tea cake, or fancy bread, or any light or fancy pastry, or any other like article.

(b ) Any cake, bun, scone, or biscuit which does not conform to the requirements of the two following provisions of this Order.

In the making of any cake, bun, scone, or biscuit no edible substance shall be added to the exterior of the cake mixture or dough after it has been mixed, or to the article during the process of or after baking.

CAKE. - No cake shall contain more than 15 percent. of sugar or more than 30 per cent. wheaten flour.

BUN. - No bun shall contain more than 10 percent. of sugar or more than 50 per cent. wheaten flour.

SCONE. - No Scone shall contain any sugar or more than 50 per cent. wheaten flour.

BISCUIT. - No cake shall contain more than 15 percent. of sugar.

The percentage shall be determined in every case by reference to the weight of the baked article taken at any time. The percentage of sugar shall be ascertained by analysis of a sample representing a fair average of the whole article, and all sugar in the baked article shall be taken into account in whatsoever form it may have been introduced.

The foregoing provisions of the Order do not apply to any cake or biscuit proved to have been made before April 23.

It is further provided that:-

The provisions of the sale of Food and Drugs Act relating to warranties and invoices shall apply to any proceedings under the foregoing provisions of this order in the same way as they apply to proceedings of those Acts.

Any person authorised by the Food Controller and any inspector of weights and measures may enter upon premises where he has reason to suspect an article is being made or sold or exposed for sale in contravention of this Order, and take samples thereof.

This order shall apply to articles made or supplied in clubs in the same way as it applies to articles made or supplied for sale.

RATIONING OF TEA SHOPS

The following provision is to apply to every public eating place as defined in the Public Meals Order, 1917, which is excepted from that Order under clause 7 (b ) thereof:- No individual customer shall be served at any meal whatsoever which begins between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. with more than 2Oz. in the whole of bread, cake, bun, scone, and biscuit.

This clause does not apply to any public eating place where:-

(1) No customer is ever charged more than 6d in respect of a meal (including the charge for beverages) begun between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., which does not include meat, fish, or eggs; and

(2) There is exhibited on every tariff card and also in a conspicuous position in in every room where meals are usually served a notice to the effect that no customer will so be charged.

This clause does not come into force until April 23.

For the purpose of this Order the expression "Wheaten Flour" shall mean any flour for the time being authorized to be used in the manufacture of wheaten bread, and the expression "sugar" shall include glucose.

Any contravention of the Order is summary offence against the Defence of the Realm Regulations.

A couple of days later on the 21st, once the order had taken force, a summary of the 'existing prohibitions, regulations, and appeals' that had been issued was given under the headlines: 'THE FOOD OUTLOOK. MORE DRASTIC ORDERS POSSIBLE., NO HARDSHIPS YET'

…In Germany the rationing of bread began so long ago as January 1915, and to-day there is hardly an article of food which is not rationed. When the existing prohibitions, regulations, and appeals issued by Lord Devonport are summarized it will be realized to how limited extent they have disturbed the character or the quantity of the food which may be consumed without exceeding the directions of the Food Controller. The position may be stated under the following headings:-

FLOUR AND BREAD. - There is a compulsory standard for flour which requires an 81 per cent. extraction from the wheat , and the addition of a minimum of 10 per cent. of flour milled from other cereals.

Bread must not be sold until it is 12 hours old.

The manufacture and sale of light pastries muffins, crumpets, and teacakes is prohibited. Scones must contain no sugar.

The use of wheat, rice, and rye for other purposes than seed and flour for human consumption is prohibited.

PUBLIC MEALS ORDER. - The consumption of bread, flour, meat, and sugar in hotels, restaurants, and clubs is rationed on a basis which permits for a full day's meals 8oz. bread, 2oz. flour, 12oz. meat, and 1 1/2oz. of sugar.

One meatless day and five potatoless days must be observed on each week.

At any meal taken between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. the weight of bread, cake, or biscuits eaten must not exceed 2oz. for each person.

VOLUNTARY HOME RATIONING. - The Food Controller has asked that the weekly consumption of bread shall not exceed 4lb., of meat 2 1/2lb., and of sugar 1/2lb.

CHOCOLATES AND SWEETS.- Chocolates after the end of this month may not be sold at a price exceeding 4s. a pound, and other sweets at a price exceeding 2s. 6d. a lb. Confectioners are receiving only a limited quantity of sugar.

Personally, I wouldn't have a problem with a single meatless day, but difficult to imagine 'five potatoless'

NigelS

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Magnumbellum

I accept that the Times reference, with a named Order, is substantial evidence, but there remains the question of how such an order was to be effectively policed, and what penalties could be imposed.

On the wider issue I was premature in suggesting that food rationing was imposed shortly after the establishment of the Ministry of Food Control in December 1916. It was not imposed until February 1918. Before then the emphasis was voluntary "rationing"" (eg mealless days) both within households and by retailers - allowing only so much per customer in the case of scarce foodstuffs.

It is the apparant reluctance to impose formal rationing until early 1918 that makes the arbitrary order of December 1916 so odd. Would it, for example, have been an offence for someone to go to a restaurant and consume a two-course meal at 6.00 pm, and the return at 8.00 pm and consume a second two-course meal?

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centurion

I accept that the Times reference, with a named Order, is substantial evidence, but there remains the question of how such an order was to be effectively policed, and what penalties could be imposed.

On the wider issue I was premature in suggesting that food rationing was imposed shortly after the establishment of the Ministry of Food Control in December 1916. It was not imposed until February 1918. Before then the emphasis was voluntary "rationing"" (eg mealless days) both within households and by retailers - allowing only so much per customer in the case of scarce foodstuffs.

It is the apparant reluctance to impose formal rationing until early 1918 that makes the arbitrary order of December 1916 so odd. Would it, for example, have been an offence for someone to go to a restaurant and consume a two-course meal at 6.00 pm, and the return at 8.00 pm and consume a second two-course meal?

From what reports I can find people just obeyed the law (strange as it may seem given modern attitudes), at least most of the people who ate in restaurants did. Clubs messes and canteens seem to have policed themselves.

Introducing rationing (where the amounts of particular foods etc any person may purchase in a given period are controlled) is not easy or quick (especially if it's never been done before). In WW2 much of the work had been done beforehand (relying in part on WW1 experience) and was just waiting for the outbreak of war to be implemented. Even today there will be detailed emergency plans for rationing somewhere in a Whitehall filing cabinet (or possibly on a disk or USB stick just waiting to be lost and/or passed to Wikileaks). It wasn't a reluctance to introduce rationing but the necessary planning, setting up an inspection organisation, producing ration books and their distribution etc that would take significant time. I suspect that many Whitehall committees toiled until well after 4 pm over this.

In the case of a man eating at 6.00 pm and 8.00 Pm yes I think that would be an offence as it would count as the same meal but I suspect the restaurant would simply refuse to serve him (now if he went to two [or more] different establishments that would be different - I have an insane vision of the exploding man in Monty Python's Meaning of Life), but as I've said above it would seem people simply did not go to such shifts. I think it might have been legal if he'd eaten at 6.00pm and again after 9.30 pm

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Magnumbellum

... having an interest in food during the war , ..

I have come across references to two books which may interest you:

William Beveridge: British Food Control, 1928

E M H Lloyd; Experiments in State Control, 1924.

Both deal with the Great War. I have not followed up the books myself, as this area is not a major interest of mine.

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