1950 - 2000: a half-century of food and recipes of Europe - the war years, the 'hunger years', and the years of plenty.

A project with the Seniors of Leipzig University

Deutsche version hier


The years from 1940 to 1950 were a terrible period for families struggling to keep alive during the ebb and flow of war. Rationing and shortages meant that housewives were forced to provide meals for their children from very little or almost nothing

By 1980 things had grown better - but then the 'fast-food' invasion arrived and traditional dishes, hand-made by mothers, began to disappear as 'convenience' became more important than 'quality'.

Click on the recipe below to go there and click the up symbol to return here.

Here you will find examples of foods and recipes from the last half of the last century -- from the 'khasha' of Siberian slave-labour camps to the traditional working-class dishes like 'bubble-and-squeak' and 'tripe and onions'..


Most of the British dishes are taken from Margaret Patten's wonderful books "We'll Eat Again" and "Post-war Kitchen". You can get these from Amazon Books in the UK (but not in the USA).

Please write to us if you need help with weights and measures, finding ingredients etc and we would love to hear about your success with these recipes, so please write to the Leamington Elders Action Project.


  Mock Goose

Quantity 4 helpings

1 and a half lb Potatoes
2 large cooking apples
4 oz cheese
half a teaspoon dried sage
salt and pepper
three quarters of a pint vegetable stock
1 tablespoon flour

Cooking time 1 hour

Scrub and slice potatoes thinly, slice apples, grate cheese. Grease a fireproof dish, place a layer of potatoes on it, cover with apples and a little sage, season lightly and sprinkle with cheese, repeat layers leaving potat oes and cheese to cover. Pour in half a pint of the stock and cook in a moderate oven for three quarters of an hour. Blend flour with remainder of the stock, pour into dish and cook for another quarter hour. Serve as a main dish with a green vegetable.
  Mock black pudding

1 cup oatmeal
1 pint vegetable or meat broth
salt, pepper
marjoram, thyme
2 - 3 small onions

Stew one cup of oatmeal in one pint of broth or vegetable water, add salt, pepper, marjoram, and thyme, simmer, stirring constantly until thickened.

Chop onions very fine, brown in little fat and stir in.

Honey cakes

Cooking time about 15 Mins


1 level teaspoon sugar
2 and a half oz. margarine
2 Level tablespoons honey
6 oz self raising flour
1 level teaspoon cinnamon.
Quantity 16 to 20


Beat together the sugar and margarine until the mixture is soft and creamy, then add the honey. Sift together the flower and cinnamon. Add to the creamy mixture with a spoon until it binds together then work it with your fin gers until it is a soft smooth dough. Flower your hands, take off a piece of dough about the size of a large walnut and roll between the palm of hands until it is a smooth ball. Put onto a slightly greased tin and flatten slightly. Continue until all the dough has been used up. Bake in a moderately hot oven until the cakes are done - about 15 mins.


Potato pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer)

Cooking time a few minutes


potato peelings and pieces
a handful of flour
salt and pepper




Here is a recipe for "Kartoffelpuffer" from the year 1946, from Helga Hatton of our sister organisation 'Zeitzeugen'.

I was born and reared in Berlin and shortly after the war was over we had not very much to eat, e.g. three slices of bread a day, 50 grams of meat, 30 grams of noodles and 25 grams of sugar and margarine or butter per week and potatoes and vegetables only when we could get them. My father was running reparation trains to the Polish border and sometimes we could trade some parts of our household for grains and thus we had some additonal food for some weeks.

You take some potato peels, cut them to very small pieces, mix them with some flour and salt and fry them on top of the oven (at that time we had only coal ovens which were heated from the top).


  Mock fried sausages

White cabbage
1 pound of boiled potatoes
1 cup breadcrumbs
salt, pepper
caraway seeds

Soft-boil the white cabbage and put through mincer together with boiled potatoes, add salt, pepper, caraway, and breadcrumbs

Mix well, shape into small sausages, and fry in little fat.

Cheese Pudding

Cooking time 30 mins

Quantity 4 helpings

Ingredients Half a pint milk or household milk
2 eggs (2 level tblspns of dried egg mixed with 4 tablespoons water)
4 oz grated cheese
1 breakfastcup breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
quarter teaspoon dried mustard.

Add the milk to the egg mixture and stir in the other ingredients. Pour into a greased dish and cook for about 30 minutes in a moderately hot oven until brown and set.

Fish Paste


3 oz cooked fresh-salted cod
2 oz mashed potatoes
1 oz softened margarine
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce pepper


Flake the fish finely with a fork or put through the mincer and beat into the potato until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Then beat in the margarine and Worcestershire sauce and a little pepper. Use for sandwiches

Pea puree pancakes



Cooking time 25 minutes

Quantity 4 helpings

Ingredients 1 lb peas (fresh, dried or tinned)
half a teaspoon sugar
dab of margarine
1 desertspoon chopped mint
salt and pepper
pancakes or fried croutons
2 oz grated cheese

Cook the peas until tender. Add a little sugar to the water as this brings out the flavour of the peas. Drain and mash the peas and then mix in the margarine, mint and seasoning. When you've made the pancakes spread the puree between the two as though for a sandwich and serve with grated cheese. Alternatively you could serve the puree very hot in bowls like a soup adding croutons. The croutons are made by cutting bread into cubes and frying in very hot fat

Beetroot Pudding



Cooking time 35/40 minutes

Quantity 4 helpings

Ingredients 6 oz wheatmeal flour
half a teaspoon of baking powder
1 oz sugar
4 oz finely grated raw beetroot
half oz of margarine

Just the job to make your sugar ration go further! First mix flour and baking powder, rub in the margarine, then add sugar and grated beetroot.
Now mix all the ingredients to a soft cake consistency with 3 or 4 tablespoons of milk. Add a few drops of flavouring essence if you have it. Turn the mixture into a greased pie dish or tin and bake in a moderate oven for 35 minutes. This pudding tastes equally good hot or cold.

Grilled Pigeon



Cooking time 25/30 minutes

Quantity One per person

Ingredients Some lard or margarine
Chopped herbs (such as rosemary or thyme)

Pigeons for grilling must be very young, when they are often known as 'squabs'.

Wash and dry the birds and split lengthways. Season, then brush the birds generously with melted fat.

Preheat the grill and place the birds with the skin side uppermost on the grill pan. Cook for 5 minutes. Turn them over and brush the underside with more fat. Continue cooking for a further 5 minutes, then turn the birds over once more and cook until tender.

To give more flavour to the flesh a few chopped herbs can be mixed with the melted fat. Serve the pigeons with redcurrent or apple jelly.

Khasha and Fish soup



Ingredients A fish or two
Whatever else you can get










Tom Holloway

MEMORIES listowner

In 1939 Poland was attacked by Germany and Russia simultaneously. At the age of 14 Felix Chustecki was deported with his family from their home in Poland to a Russian slave labour camp. Here he describes their food rations.

"We were a month in the cattle truck while we were travelling east towards Siberia. Food was very poor quality and sometimes non-existent - just water. Sometimes a soldier might give us a few fish or potatoes and we could make a soup.

We finally arrived in a settlement camp - but with hard labour attached to it because my father fought against the Russians in the 1930s.

Work was terrible, because your conditions and rations depended on how hard you worked. We each had 1 pound of bread every day, usually only half-baked, but if you could scrape together some kopeks you could buy extra food from a shop, but only stuff called khasha - a sort of oatmeal - to make porridge, and we could have one tea-spoon of sunflower oil for each plate of khasha we bought.

Even then in the forest the conditions were fairly good. When we were moved to the collective farms in Uzbekhstan conditions were terrible, and really there was virtually nothing to eat - not even for the Uzbekhs who lived there - they were starving to death to feed the Russian Army.

In the cotton fields you could sometimes find hedges that had edible grasses - the peasants (and us) would gather these and make a very thin soup, but so many died and especially the very young and the old."

Feliks Chustecki

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