In Edwardian times food became very important socially.
However there was a huge difference between what rich and poor people ate. The rich spent a lot of money on food and its preparation. The poor, however, had barely enough food for one decent meal a day. More
Meals were served by servants who were expected to be faultlessly clean, polite and competent.
Mealtimes included breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner and there were a lot of dishes to choose from. More
Dinner parties were very showy and expensive.
There were not quite as many dishes as there had been in the nineteenth century. There were usually no more than eight to ten courses, but they were far more elaborate. Dinner parties were so important to the reputation of wealthy Edwardian families that the chef could earn far more than the butler. More
French cuisine became fasionable
King Edward VII admired French cooking and the upper classes soon followed his lead. More
Grand hotels, like the Savoy, were amazingly fashionable places in which to dine.
The extravagance could be quite shocking. For one party, the Ritz put in an illuminated garden fountain that gushed champagne. The restaurant owners would keep a record of the food preferences of their richer guests. More
Afternoon Tea became the fashion for the rich.
All well brought up young English women knew how to present Afternoon Tea. More
The tea shops, which had grown up in the Victorian era, were now meeting places for young people.
Lyon's Corner Houses were to be found in every city centre, with their light, glamorous interiors. More
Dinner, however, was a meal with strict etiquette (ways of behaving).
This covered everything from the way the table was laid out and the meal served, to the food that was eaten. Courses were served in order, with the correct cutlery and china, which meant very hard work for the servants. More
The very height of fashion was to travel and dine on an ocean liner.
First class passengers on the Titanic, for example, sat down to 11 courses, in the most glamorous surroundings. More
For the families of poor labourers, there was only one good meal a day, if that.
Often the diet was still based on tea, bread and jam or dripping, potatoes and bacon. More
Cookbooks were still very popular.
Books with advice about home-making, cooking and entertaining were still very important, such as Mrs Humphrey's 'The Book of the Home' (1909). More
Fish and chips and pie shops were now very common.
These had started in the Victorian period and catered for poorer people. They were particuarly common in London. More
Picnics, started by the Victorians, were very popular with the Edwardians.
The new motor cars made carrying the food and equipment much easier. Special recipes were created especially for the picnic More
There were more branded and processed foods available.
Some processed foods, including Fry's cocoa, were now found in larders, and products such as baking powder and gelatine were used in most homes. More
Most people still cooked on closed ranges but gas cookers were becoming more common.
By the start of the Edwardian period, over a quarter of the families who lived in towns and cities had a gas cooker and many had a simple refrigerator with two compartments: in one side was a block of ice, and in the other side, the food. Most large countryside houses still used a range. More
In the early days of WW1, panic buying and hording caused food shortages at home.
Some shops sold out of food in days. Then things settled down, however, the German Navy attempted to prevent imports to Britain by introducing unrestricted submarine warfare. By the end of 1916, U-German boats were sinking many ships carrying food (on average around 300,000 tons of shipping a month was lost). More
Food rationing was introduced in 1918.
As 1917 drew to a close people began to fear that food would run out. Panic buying caused shortages and when malnutrition was found in many poor people, the Ministry of Food introduced rationing. In January 1918, sugar was rationed, then later butchers' meat. More foods were added to the list as the year went on. More
By the end of the war, Britain had an extra three million acres of farming land.
The 'Defence Of the Realm Act' (DORA) let the government take over land when it needed to. Rationing food and other measures taken were successful and (according to official sources) most people obtained the food they needed. More
Getting food to the font line was often a problem.
The British Army employed 300,000 field workers to cook and supply the food. When troops were away from the front, the food they ate was probably better than many of them got at home, especially if they came from poorer families. When at the front, however, it was a very challenging task to get food to the soldiers in good condition. More
The soldier's food was often supplied in cans and was very monotonous.
Most of the diet in the trenches was bully-beef (canned corned beef), bread and biscuits or Maconochie stew. By 1916, flour was in such short supply that bread was being made with dried, ground turnips. More
The battalion's kitchen staff used large vats in which everything was prepared.
Mobile field cookers were brought as far forward as safety allowed, to allow cooks to provide (theoretically 'hot') food for troops in the firing line. Despite the use of insulated containers, this food was usually cold when it reached the trenches. More
During battles, there were particular problems in getting food down the lines.
Getting hot food from the field kitchen to the front lines was impossible when a battle was raging. Catering staff put food in old cans and jars and carried it along the trenches in straw-lined boxes. It was always cold when it arrived. More
Special iron rations were carried when advancing into enemy territory.
The two-part sealed tin ( Emergency Ration), which could only be consumed by express permission of an officer, contained cocoa paste and beef paste (which could be spooned onto hard tack biscuits or mixed with boiled water and drunk - as hot cocoa or bovril). More
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