3 October 2014

Friday's Literary Feast

Quotes from The Virago Book of Food:  The Joy of Eating


Marguerite Patten worked for the Ministry of Food during the Second World War and until the end of rationing in 1954.  She was also the regular cookery expert in the BBC's first television magazine programme, Design for Women.

Over the years I have been asked repeatedly to describe whale meat.  Nowadays, we would be horrified at the thought of using these magnificent and protected mammals for food, but in 1946 we were anxious to have more generous helpings of meat so the Government were ready to persuade us to avail ourselves of this unrationed 'bonus', which became better known in 1947.  Whale meat looked like a cross between liver and beef, with a firm texture.  Because the raw meat had a strong and very unpleasant smell of fish and stale oil, I loathed handling whale meat to create recipes or to use in my demonstrations to the public.  When cooked, the smell was not apparent.
  The Ministry of Food's Food and Nutrition booklet for September 1947 included advice on preparing and cooking whale meat:  'Tests were made in our Experimental Kitchens using the best cuts of whale meat, which was bought in its frozen state, thawed out slowly and treated as ordinary beef steak.  It was found that although the raw meat looked somewhat unattractive and is not very satisfactorily grilled or cooked as a joint, most people cannot distinguish it from beef steak when it is finely cut before cooking or mixed with strong flavours.'

Marguerite Patten's Post-war Kitchen

Marguerite Patten


  1. "finely cut before cooking or mixed with strong flavours" - that does not sound promising!

  2. Sort of gives you the shivers, doesn't it!