Sunday, April 26, 2009

Wartime Kitchen


Times are bad now and many people have to lower their salary expectation in order to increase their chances of getting a job in the competitive market. However, this is still not the worst scenario... Imagine you are one of those who stayed in Singapore during 1942-1950, your resume (if you ever wrote one) would look like this: "...my expected salary is x number of katis of rice...". i.e. Instead of negotiating wages in terms of currency, people chose rice or other food like eggs since the authenticity of banana notes was in doubt!

Wartime kitchen : food and eating in Singapore, 1942-1950 / Wong Hong Suen (ISBN: 9789814217583) describes the issue of food scarcity during and after World War II and how people went about sourcing for food to meet their basic needs. As food and many other household essentials were scarce, people then had to be creative in using the available ones or the substitutes to optimize their resources.

Wartime Kitchen


Besides mentioning about the use of rice as the exchange currency, the author also shared with us other interesting information, some of which I will highlight below:


1. Unpolished rice (糙米) which are more nutritious (contains more minerals and fibre) than polished rice, were available during that period but many people thought they were unfit for human consumption and fed them to pigs and poultry! [However, nowadays many people switch to eating unpolished rice for health reasons. ;)]

Red Cargo Rice (Unpolished)

2. Besides eating tapioca (a rice substitute), people also extracted concentrated juice from boiled tapioca and used them as fish poison and threw the juice into rivers to catch fish.

Tapioca

3. A creative housewife improvised an oven by placing heated sand around a kerosene tin. She used the oven to bake a Christmas cake!

4. People made soaps using a mixture of coconut ash, palm oil and lime. [Considering now we are so fortunate to have a variety of fragrant soaps, shower creams, shampoos and dish & laundry detergents. The oldest type of laundry soap which I can identify in a supermarket is made of vegetable oil.]

Laundry Soap

5. Nineteen wartime recipes and their modern adaptations are also presented in this book. These include papaya jam, sweet potato pudding, lemak sweet potatoes and kang kong (water convolvulus), coconut ice cream and pineapple cake. The main ingredients which are used to prepare these 5 dishes are shown below.

Ingredients





27 comments:

tigerfish said...

You doing research ah? ;P

Little Inbox said...

Hmm... interesting piece of info. In fact those ingredients are considered as healthy food, as they contain high nutrition.

lisaschaos said...

Very cool little piece of history. :)

Sorry I'm so far behind! :(

EastCoastLife said...

My late grandma told me her World War II stories. It was a terrible time.

napaboaniya said...

Beary soon I'll be asking for katis of rice as well!! LOL~

p/s: The weather can die hor!!!

Enchie said...

I learned something again in WS! Thanks Dora for sharing :D

arielle said...

I've tried red rice but I didn't like it much. Maybe because I am used to the white one. :-) Great post by the way!

SASSY MOM said...

Interesting bits of info. Thanks for sharing! My WS entry is here.

luna miranda said...

war-time or not, poor people have been eating tapioca, banana, kang kong, etc.---they're cheaper and healthier. thanks for sharing.:D

Hazel said...

Thanks for the info. I eat all those food you showed. If I ever become rich, I would still eat the same food :)

milet said...

interesting but i am thinking the demand depends on the era. at that time, money was not really important unlike now.

thanks for dropping by!

♥peachkins♥ said...

These are very interesting pictures

Carver said...

Great post and a lot of interesting history and information.

Willa said...

wow! I didn't know that Kang-kong was also called Kang-kong in SG. :)
I learned something new.

Anya said...

Interesting
stuff out the old box;)

Thanks for the info...

Gattina said...

My grandma had to be very creative too from 1945 til 1951 ! there also was nothing to eat in Germany. The once who had jewelry or oriental carpets went to the farmers to get some eggs and potatoes !

mysorefeet said...

Interesting tidbits, you really do learn something new everyday!

Jenn said...

All those substitutions are what I prefer at this present time. Just love unpolished rice (brown or red), it's a bit of getting used to but once acquired, I can't go back to white rice. Even the recipes looked interesting.

Paz said...

Wow! Very interesting post. I love the red rice. Haven't tasted it before.

Paz

Indrani said...

Lot of effort from your side. Great post!

Food For Tots said...

Sometimes, the cheap food is also the best food.

MyMaracas said...

Very informative post! As rough as times are here in the US right now, we're still luckier than we know.

Raven said...

What an interesting post. I love learning new things. Great photos to go with the information. Thanks for teaching me something new.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I very much like the red rice.

maryt/theteach said...

Wow, thanks for all the info. Very interesting post for Ruby Tuesday! :)

DaviMack said...

Thank you for this very informative post ... and happy Ruby Tuesday!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Yes Doro, I have seen a hamburger cake. At least a photo. Seemed like a funny idea to me.