Lord Woolton Pie, created with Carrots!
"Woolton Pie" was actually the creation of
Francis Ladry, the chef of the Savoy hotel and named after Lord Woolton, head of the Ministry
Many people had their own interpretation of the recipe for the pie, but they almost always used
carrots! Basically it is mixed vegetables, a sauce and a topping , which could be pastry or potatoes mashed or sliced.
The Official recipe as reported in "The Times" on 26 April 1941 is
Introduced in May 1941, it continued to raise a hollow laugh throughout the war. In fact, Woolton Pie was far from being a laughing matter. Lord Woolton, Britain's wartime Minister of Food (for the early part of WW2), charmed and cajoled the public into eating not only Woolton Pie but a 'National loaf' - pictured here baked as a 'Victory loaf'.
The Pie was named after Frederick Marquis, Lord Woolton, the ex-managing director of a store chain called Lewis (mainly in the north of England) and ex-social worker, who was appointed Minister of Food in April 1940. Unglamorous his position may have been, but it was vital to the war effort. It says much for Woolton's personal charm that he was remarkably popular with the public, even when singing the praises of rissoles without beef, cakes without sugar and tea without tea leaves.
Much of Woolton's success was due to his business skill in budgeting specific items -- he only rationed items of which he was certain he had enough to go around, however small the quantities. This built up a sense of fairness and trust with those who were struggling with their own personal budget and the war effort itself. He also believed that the public should be educated and helped, not just instructed.
This he did by means of an inspired publicity campaign, introducing 'Dr Carrot' and 'Potato Pete', by broadcasts with 'Gert and Daisy' - the music hall artistes Elsie and Doris Walters, and by 'Kitchen Front' spots on the BBC radio, 'Food Flashes' (short films) in the cinema and a massive advertising campaign in the press.
Apparently neither the pie or the loaf were particularly liked, but by the end of the War, the country was fitter and healthier than it ever had been. As a whole the population, was slimmer and healthier than it is today. People ate less fat, eggs, sugar and meat whilst eating many more vegetables.
Many people ate a better diet during rationing than before the war years and this had a marked effect on the health of the population - infant mortality declined and life expectancy increased.
Let us hope that the country never faces such extremes again. However, it is now realised that the home population never ate so well as they did during and after the war. This was thanks to the enforced change in diet and the strict rationing of shop-bought goods and the amount of fresh vegetables that people ate. Also a significant reduction in the consumption of fats and sugar.
There is a simple message for the 21st Century's increasingly obese and under-exercised population. Take up vegetable gardening, grow carrots and take more walks!
The Official Recipe for Woolton Pie as reported in The Times on 26 April 1941:
Official Recipe: (modern photo right)
Ingredients: Take 1Ib
each of diced potatoes, cauliflower, swedes and carrots;
Three or Four spring onions; One teaspoonful of vegetable extract and one teaspoonful of oatmeal.
Method: Cook all together for ten minutes with just enough water to cover. Stir occasionally to prevent the mixture from sticking. Allow to cool; put into a pie dish, sprinkle with chopped parsley and cover with a crust of potatoes or wholemeal pastry.
Bake in a moderate oven until the pastry is nicely brown and serve hot with brown gravy.(no temperature given!)
Potato Pete's recipe book, on line here.
Here is a photo which shows the Pie in its various stages of preparation (click to see larger version - photo courtesy of R O'Neill):
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