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Home Cooking (in a manner of speaking) 1916 style

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I've been doing some research for my main non-eating interest - the Great War - at the university in a nearby city. One of the files was the correspondance of Lt Eric Goodwin, 17th Battalion, Manchester Regiment (my grandfather's unit). He writes home, on 20 August 1916, that he has been seconded to another unit supervising men who are digging a tunnel under the German lines and he is billeted with three other officers. One of these officers has a servant (the term batman wasnt used until after the war) called Webber who is:-

"an excellent cook and general all round handyman (he used to be valet to an American millionaire and has been all over the world). He gets hold of all kinds of deliciousness - last night it was French artichokes. We were rather suspicious when we saw them because they look like dark green cactus placed on your plate but after consulting with Webber as to which part one was supposed to eat, we nibbled a few corners off. But personally, I don't think they're worth the trouble of eating."

I think I pretty much agree with Eric. BTW, he was killed in action on 12 October 1916.

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  1. What an interesting find. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Interesting. My grandfather was in the Great War also and I pictured him eating the predecessor to C-rations. As a private, I'm sure he didn't have a Webber though!

      1. What an exciting find, Harters. I found a few web sites which listed a some British WW I rations:

        http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/...
        http://www.tommyspackfillers.com/ww1-...

        Certainly nothing like gourmet artichokes, though...I like them, you see.

        1. My Grandpa Robert Goodwin (from Caton, Lancs) also served inthe Great War, not sure where he was posted. He never talked about it, and died when I was quite young. I have a photo of him in his uniform and great bristling moustache. He was probably in infantry but was an estate gardener by trade. His love was the kitchen garden and orchards. He brought his family to Califonia in 1924 and I remember him beautifully pruning our fruit trees in suburban San Jose.

          1 Reply
          1. re: toodie jane

            Feel free to email me about Robert (see my profile) - might be possible to fill in some gaps (Lancashire is part of our region).

          2. I had an immediate flashback to my childhood. My father (a vietnam vet) had an especial love of artichokes. In our home, we were . . . urged strongly to clean our plates. I was raised in the midwest, by those raised in the depression era. I remember my mother bending over me and whispering, "Just get to the middle, sweetheart, you'll like the middle, I promise." I remember being small, and being urged to take those hard leaves between my teeth, and earn a desert, of sorts.

            I liked your post. I've never prepared artichokes in my own home, but now, I feel compelled to.

            1. Thanks for sharing that story. It brought back a nice memory for me. My father was a mostly meat and potatoes guy at heart, but he was always eager and willing to try whatever I cooked from the time I got my Easy-Bake Oven at age 5. Sometime when I was in high school I brought some fresh artichokes home from a trip to the "city". After we ate he said, "Well. It was a damn lot of work for a damn little food.... (pause)... But it was really good." Then he grinned and told me to feel free to make them anytime.

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              1. re: decolady

                And that you for sharing that. this is the seond time tonight I've reflected on my father's smile at being served a *delicacy* (in one thread). The easy-Bake Oven's influence on a generation of cooks should be (if not already) another conversation.