The Robshaw family travel back to the 1910s - a decade of feast and famine. Rochelle struggles to feed the family as supplies run out, as they did for many during World War I.
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Meet the Robshaws - Brandon, Rochelle, Miranda
Ros, and Fred.
They've been back in time before...
..and experienced the transformation in our diets
from the 1950s... Whoa! ..to the 1990s.
That is just amazing. Look at them!
Now they're travelling further back in time
to the first half of the 20th century,
to discover how changes in the food we ate...
Oh, my good Lord! Is it brains?
..the way it was served...
and how it was cooked...
Yes, I'm cooking the pudding in the soup. Why?
..helped change the course of history.
Starting in the 1900s...
Oh, my goodness!
..this Victorian house will be their time machine...
What is that? It looks like a giant hand grenade.
..fast-forwarding them through a new year each day.
From strict etiquette...
I might practise my bowing.
..to new fads and flavours.
Eurgh! It's not that bad!
Dad! Brandon! THEY LAUGH
From far too much...
I think I've got the meat sweats.
..to not enough.
Doesn't look like a fried egg.
SHE GASPS No!
Can we eat that? No.
As they discover how a revolution in our eating habits...
BOTTLE POPS ..helped create the modern family.
Last time, the family lived through the excesses of the Edwardian era.
The courses just keep coming and coming.
And enjoyed the services of another time traveller, Debbie, their maid,
who kept them fed and watered.
This time, they're entering the 1910s,
a decade when our diets...
..and our daily lives were turned upside down.
It feels like the war is really starting to bite.
It's the second stage of our time travel experiment,
and the family's 1900s house has been transformed.
It's 1910, the start of a decade full of tumultuous change.
The kitchen has new labour-saving innovations.
The parlour is not so formal or cluttered.
And the dining room is less ostentatious.
Social historian Polly Russell and I are back
to see what the 1910s have in store for the Robshaws.
It's brighter and lighter than it was before.
Yeah. It's fresher, isn't it?
And this baby here,
which is considerably smaller than the coal-fired oven,
looks, to me, like a gas cooker.
Is that a thing they had? This is a gas cooker -
the mod con of the 1910s.
About 20% of middle-class households had a gas cooker,
and it transformed cooking for the servant.
Presumably, this isn't an actual 1910 gas oven.
Sadly, it's not because a real one would probably blow us all up now.
I wonder what delights the larder holds,
compared with the last decade.
Well... Much fuller. Far more of the recognisable brands.
We are consuming an enormous amount of canned goods in Britain -
the most in the world in this decade.
This is a result of technological changes in canning
and also shipping,
and evidence that we are able to import food from around the world.
MUSIC: Land Of Hope And Glory by Edward Elgar
In 1910, Britain was buying 60% of its food from abroad.
With cheap imports favoured over home-grown products,
British agriculture had suffered in an era of free trade.
It's a choice that would have serious consequences in this decade.
The excess, the quantity, the cheap availability of food
at the beginning of the decade
is going to be completely turned upside down by the First World War.
Because we were so dependent on imports
and then, just, boom, U-boats, and nothing can get here.
That's right. One in four merchant ships are being sunk,
so pressure on food availability is significant.
And we can see the impact of this in this consumer expenditure survey.
Broadly speaking, we start out this decade,
and the total spend is around ?600 million on food.
By the end of this decade, we're at ?1,541 million.
And that's not because people are eating twice as much -
it's because the food is twice as expensive. Exactly.
So the way we consume food completely changes.
It's time for the Robshaws to find out
what these changes will mean for them.
From 1900 to 1909,
we were a very comfortably-off family.
And we ate very well,
to the extent that I'm actually finding it difficult
to do my waistcoat buttons up this week.
I think my dad's getting a bit too comfortable
with the idea of having a maid.
I think he's getting a little bit bell happy.
I'd be very glad to see Debbie back in this era.
I'm not ready to go back in the kitchen...yet.
We know that the Great War is looming on the horizon,
so I'm perhaps a little bit insecure about how that's going to play out.
Ooh, this is very bright, isn't it?
Wow, it's really nice.
It seems lighter and airier.
Oh, look! It's gas.
Oh! That's a leap forward, isn't it?
It's a mincer. It's like gadgets.
This is a much, much nicer room to be in than the last kitchen. Yeah.
It doesn't feel like a cell, does it? No.
We've got lino. Hmm! I think it...
Well, it will certainly be easier for somebody to clean.
Are you afraid you're going to be the person doing the cleaning?
LAUGHS: I'm worried I'm going to be the person doing the cooking,
not the cleaning.
Oh, this is elegant! Oh, I say!
Girls, look! What is the first thing that strikes you?!
The gramophone! What's the first thing you see?
There's no little knick-knacks, there's no stuffed animals.
It's more tasteful. It is more tasteful.
Ah, hello, Robshaws! Hello, Giles. Welcome to 1910.
What do you make of your new place? It's kind of light, airy.
Feels a little bit sort of less buttoned up.
Let's talk about where you are, socially.
Brandon, you're still doing very well, very nicely.
That's good to hear. And earning about ?500 a year.
Wow! So, that's more than double what you were earning before.
I'm quite curious to know, now he's earning a little bit more,
if I get to keep...
You got used to that, did you? Yeah.
I think it was really good to have somebody in the kitchen.
Doing all the work. Doing all the work, yeah.
Luckily for Rochelle, most middle-class families in 1910
still had a maid.
So 19-year-old Debbie Raw, a part-time chef in the 21st century,
will be joining them again.
The last decade was so hard, just to have so much to do,
a lot of responsibility for me.
So I'm kind of just a bit anxious
about what is going to come in this one.
In 1910, a Liberal government had been elected
that would implement new welfare reforms,
and better paid jobs in shops and factories
were starting to lure women away from service.
So, for the first time, the middle classes had to think about ways
to keep their staff happy, or risk losing them.
So, Debbie, as before, you'll be expected to do
most of the cooking and cleaning,
but Rochelle, you might find that you want to muck in a little bit.
Someone like Debbie was able, by this stage,
to pick and choose where she worked.
So you, and maybe the girls, could help out,
make her life a little bit easier, if you want to hold onto her.
Apart from that, everything you need to know is in the manual.
Thank you. Good luck, and I will see you later in the decade.
Thanks. Bye. Bye.
Oh, my goodness.
In 1910, over a quarter of young women were in domestic service.
This is very different.
Oh, I like the gas. SHE LAUGHS
This should be good.
Might have got something.
Yes! I got a bite.
It might have been a changing decade,
but the middle classes were still keen to imitate the upper classes
and enjoy lavish meals with multiple courses.
I've got...this evening's menu.
But this time, I thought I might give you a hand.
Uh, yeah. Yeah, that's great.
Tonight's five-course menu comes from the ever-reliable Mrs Beeton.
So far, Rochelle hasn't cooked anything in her own kitchen.
Her first task is to light the new gas stove.
Let me know if you want me to do it. No, I'm all right.
Ugh, I keep turning it off.
SHE TUTS Ugh...
It's... I think I can manage the chopping.
I think I can... Let me cut.
Suddenly, I feel like I'm having a workout.
The highlight of tonight's feast will be the stewed wood pigeon.
I've actually got to pluck it and everything. Oh...
The new king, George V, mad on fishing and hunting,
made British game fashionable.
He once shot over 1,000 pheasant in a single day.
That looks like something that's just been found in the road.
Just sort of, like, fell out of the sky.
Um... I'm just going to take its head off.
Maids would be expected to pluck and gut whole birds.
Can you smell it yet? No. OK. No. That's good.
Shall we just have the soup?
She's the expert in the kitchen, without a doubt.
If I was faced with a dead pigeon, I'd probably kick it out the door,
but she just plucked it, gutted it, fried it.
While Debbie gets on with the last four courses,
Rochelle's taking charge of the starter - tinned soup.
Today, we buy 95 million cans of the stuff a year.
But, in 1910, Heinz tomato soup was an imported luxury
sold at Fortnum and Mason,
and served to impress.
Probably the worst can-opening skills ever.
But at least I've opened it.
I think only one can will be enough.
Having Rochelle in here is just a little bit weird,
just cos I'm not used to having her in here.
She's not sure what to do, really,
cos she's not been in the kitchen much,
and I'm not sure what to tell her to do because she's my boss,
so it's a bit strange.
Do you think this is ready to go in?
Maybe a tiny, weenie bit more.
Dinner has taken four hours to prepare,
and while the mistress might be happy to help in the kitchen...
..it's service as usual at the table.
Hello, Debbie. Oh, that looks great!
Tomato soup for starters. Thank you.
Is it actually tomato soup out of a can?
Yes, it is.
Bit lazy, isn't it?
Shut up. You don't do anything, ever.
You can tell it's out a tin, can't you?
It's kind of thick and sweet.
It doesn't taste like home-made soup, really.
Next, the stewed wood pigeon.
I hope it's not some sort of, like, scuzzy London pigeon.
Well, the pigeon tastes nice, got a nice sort of gamy flavour.
Of course, we've still got the mutton to come.
That's unnecessary. It is really, isn't it?
If we stopped now, that's quite a good meal.
But we're saying no. We're saying we're about halfway through now.
This saddle of mutton is the 49th meat dish
they've eaten so far in the experiment.
It is just meat, meat, meat, meat.
The thing about eating meat all the time
is when you've done it for quite a long time,
you actually start to want it every day, then.
Do you, really? Yeah.
I think I'm getting a sort of hit. I'm getting a meat hit off this.
The food today was delicious.
It was still a lot of food
and still very meat heavy.
It is more pleasant being outside the kitchen than in the kitchen.
I'm not quite sure whether this evening I did too little,
whether she might go to bed thinking,
"I'd better start looking for another job."
Today's still been hard because it's just a new kitchen,
so it's like starting again, really.
It would be really nice to have a bit of time off, though,
now I am getting tired.
It's hard work. I'm on my feet all day.
It's a new day, and a new year for the Robshaws.
A maid's duties started at 7am and often didn't finish until 11pm,
seven days a week.
Is there sugar? There you go. Thank you.
It's quite hard to know that I'm not working for much
and that I'm getting up and doing all these hours.
For a person back in the 1910s,
I can imagine it would really have grinded on them
to just be stuck in a kitchen.
Right, got to go to the office now. Got to go?
Have a nice day. Yeah.
Men like Brandon would work in town and dine out,
leaving their wives and daughters to the gentler pursuits of the parlour.
It's very much a man's world, isn't it?
The women's suffrage movement had been demanding the vote
since the turn of the century.
But, from 1911, the suffragettes' campaign
had become increasingly militant,
and their diet was just as radical.
Polly has come to give the Robshaw ladies
a taste of the food enjoyed by many suffragettes.
The suffragist movements were quite closely aligned
with the vegetarian movement...
Yay! ..and vegetarianism.
They aligned their sort of
feminist-vegetarian politics together.
Eating meat is a very masculine way of eating,
so by rejecting meat, in a way, you're rejecting
this very patriarchal, macho way of consuming.
So, this evening, I'm going to ask you to host
a suffragist vegetarian dinner party.
This is so great!
To help with the evening meal,
I've arranged for vegetarian food expert Sophie Grigson
to make a surprise visit.
Hi, I'm Sophie. Hello.
Hi, hello, I'm Rochelle. Lovely to meet you. You too.
Yes, I certainly remember all your cookery books. Thank you.
Well, I've brought supplies for us to cook today.
Tonight's menu comes from the Reform cookbook,
published only two years earlier.
..and brown bread queen of puddings.
I'm intrigued by this menu
because it's not what a modern-day vegetarian would eat.
It's a lot plainer.
It's like the food that is familiar, but without the meat.
Suffragettes were influenced by the Food Reform Movement,
which held that a rich, meat-heavy diet
was a cause of digestive illness.
They advocated meat substitutes like nuts, lentils, and brown bread.
It's a reaction to all the really meat-heavy foods
that Edward VII loved and promoted.
The creamy sauces, the richness.
So this is like the flip side of the coin, really.
It's much lighter, it's much more modest.
Feels almost like a relief
to be cooking something without any meat in it at all.
Are you quite looking forward to this?
I'm desperate for it.
And the vote, of course.
And the vote!
While Rochelle embraces vegetarianism,
I'm taking Brandon out for a Teutonic-inspired lunch in town.
Prost! Prost! Yeah.
That is a serious amount of sausage, isn't it?
In 1911, it was all the rage to go for a German,
in one of the many German restaurants open at the time.
That is good. That is a good sausage.
I really like meat, but I think in the modern diet,
meat occupies a kind of strategic place in your diet,
it's not "everything is meat".
Where as back in 1911, it seems that it was -
if you're a man, anyway. Absolutely.
People were suspicious of vegetables -
none more than the Germans.
In this period, on the eve of the First World War,
there were something like 50,000 Germans,
native Germans living in the UK.
Half the bakers in London were German,
the butcher's shops were mostly German,
and there were lots and lots of fashionable German restaurants.
Three years later would come the war,
and after that...
All gone. All gone.
It seems strange to think that German restaurants, German cuisine
were so popular because it seems so remote now, doesn't it?
Very nice. A few more flecks in there.
You look like the very Kaiser himself.
Polly's back with a surprise guest for this evening's dinner -
I want to introduce you to
the great granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst... Oh, wow!
..and granddaughter of Sylvia Pankhurst.
How nice to meet you! Lovely to meet you.
I got a shiver when you said that. That's really weird.
Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the suffragettes, was also a vegetarian.
In order to boycott the census of 1911, she hid,
with 200 other suffragettes, in a vegetarian restaurant.
Looks quite nice. Looks a bit like pizza.
The Scotch woodcock is a feather-free dish
of tomatoes, cheese and onion on toast.
Very nice, isn't it? It's really delicious.
No wonder the suffragettes became vegetarians.
Is it a relief not to have a carcass on the table?
Yes. I've found it overwhelmingly meaty.
For breakfast, for lunch, for dinner.
It's been offal all the way.
The main course is a 1911 equivalent of a nut roast.
Here's your Brazilian quenelles.
Lovely. Absolutely lovely.
Do you think you would have been suffragettes?
I'd be up for smashing some windows.
What about chaining yourself to railings?
I'd do that if there was someone next to me to chat to, I guess.
But, actually, that was very much what this was all about, in a way.
There was a great camaraderie and sisterhood that came out of it.
Although we're sitting here discussing it,
Debbie is still working in the kitchen.
That still makes me feel very uncomfortable.
To round off the evening, I've given them the latest board game...
"An original and interesting game of skill
"between Suffragettes and policemen."
'I think the highlight of the day was, without doubt,
'meeting Helen Pankhurst.'
I thought that was absolutely extraordinary.
I suppose just made you think about those valiant, brave women
who changed the course of history.
I really enjoyed the vegetarian food.
I don't feel absolutely full.
I don't feel greasy,
like I have done when we've eaten, sort of, six-course meat dinners.
It was a very kind of inspiring and exciting day,
that you really felt like you were in the rhythm of a changing time.
Ah, we won!
TRANQUIL PIANO MUSIC
One, two, three... One, two...
It's not very fun, is it?
I don't think it's really dancing music,
I don't think it's got a strong enough beat.
Despite middle-class ladies occasionally turning their hand
to some light housework,
maids like Debbie worked over 100 hours a week
with no time off.
It's a really long day, so when I wake up, I think,
"Oh, OK, let's get through this day,"
and then I've got to wake up again and get through that one.
And, yeah, it's just no relief, I guess.
But the status quo was about to be shaken up.
"In this year, the Liberal Government, under Asquith,
"has passed a series of laws which will affect you and your maid."
The revolutionary introduction of national insurance legislation
gave employees medical treatment and a wage if they fell ill.
And the Shop Act guaranteed all employees half a weekday off.
Mistresses who wanted to retain their maid quickly followed suit.
I think Debbie has worked many a long hour,
I think she can have half a day off.
We want to keep her. That's the important thing.
I mean, if it was up to me, she'd have a whole day off.
Can't do a whole day.
Debbie, good news.
You can have half a day off.
Oh, really? Yes. Half a day to be free.
Thank you. That's all right. That's great.
You can take off your apron, and scarper.
For 12 years, I've just been working away in the kitchen
and now I've finally got half a day off.
Yeah, it's massive, and it's great.
It's just the pan. I know she used a lot of pans.
With Rochelle going it alone in the kitchen,
I've sent her THE food craze of the 1910s,
aimed at helping the servant-less housewife
cope without her maid.
Soyer's Paper Bag Cookery.
Do you put it over your head, the paper bag?
What do you do with the paper bag?
Everything's in a bag.
What's the point of that?
Chef Nicholas Soyer claimed that his labour-saving method
could cook almost any dish to perfection.
All you needed was an oven, and a paper bag.
Rochelle is cooking hake in a cheese sauce, lamb cutlets on ketchup rice,
and baked apples in puff pastry.
It's not the right one.
Must be the wrong sort of candle.
While Rochelle is getting to grips with the kitchen,
Debbie is enjoying her first afternoon off,
with a trip to the flicks.
Hundreds of cinemas opened in this decade
as audiences flocked to enjoy silent films
with live, musical accompaniment.
Most films were only ten minutes long,
with romances and comedies being the most common.
For someone like me, who just works all day every day,
this is, like, completely new and extraordinary.
It's kind of weird being here
and knowing that she's in, like, in my kitchen.
Like, that's strange because I know she doesn't know it that well
and I hope that everything's OK when I get back,
it's not upside down or anything.
Rochelle is grappling with the demands of cooking
a three-course meal in paper bags.
I don't know why you keep putting it all in a bag, though,
rather than just putting it in a pan.
Hey! I hope the bags are waterproof.
SHE GASPS Oh!
The bag has split.
How can I...? The bag has split.
That is just...pointless.
Well, I'll have to do it again.
Oh! Oh, no!
It's got another hole in it.
I'm going to put it in a pan.
Just trying to...
Basically, it's in a paper bag in a dish in the oven.
So I could have actually probably have done without the paper bag.
The paper bag's burning.
Personally, I'm extremely disappointed about
the paper bag in the oven experience.
The simple fact is, if you put a paper bag in an oven,
the chances are it's going to burn.
I think I'll forget about the pudding,
I think it's enough things in a bag for today.
I'll put myself in a bag.
It's the family's first taste of Rochelle's cooking
in the experiment.
Will it be as good as Debbie's cooking?
Maybe I should add a bit of that on
because I've seen Debbie do things like that.
Even if it's not very good, we'll say it is good.
What have we got here, then?
Oh, wow! It looks amazing. Oh, I say!
Actually, that does look rather interesting.
This is a feast, Rochelle! Yes.
It was all cooked in a paper bag.
Was it? Are you serious? Yes.
Fish in a bag? It's literally fish in a bag.
Well, that's absolutely extraordinary.
Mm, it's really nice.
I wouldn't know this had been cooked in a paper bag at all.
Well, that was really lovely, Rochelle.
What have we got for dessert?
I'm afraid that's where I fell down slightly.
You mean you didn't do any? Yeah.
It's very good, but I can really only give you two out of three.
Debbie would have given us a dessert.
'I think paper-bag cooking will take off cos'
I don't think it was ridiculous. You see a lot of things in bags.
Surely it's more ridiculous to cook something in, like, a plastic box,
like a microwave meal is.
I do sort of think about what it might be like
if Debbie was to leave.
I'd forgotten quite how much work is demanded.
MUSIC: Way Out In The Blue by Ronald Frankau
By 1913, the economy was booming,
and the middle classes had more disposable income than ever
to spend on leisure.
I say, you fellows, anyone fancy a picnic?
Me! Yeah! Yeah!
Debbie won't be going on the picnic,
but she has the task of preparing an elaborate feast for it.
It's a really big picnic. A very expensive picnic.
Taking the whole family out of the dining room
was made possible by a cutting edge mode of transport.
Oh! We've got bikes.
That's so much fun. That is marvellous.
ROCHELLE: I haven't been on a bike for 40 years.
The last one I had had stabilisers.
By 1913, the mass production of the safety bicycle
gave women and families unprecedented mobility.
This is a good spot, isn't it? Just chuck the bikes down here.
What's Debbie got for us?
Oh, my goodness! Oh, wow! Ooh!
That's very flash, isn't it?
That's not just a prawn sandwich, is it?
Oh, fried fish! Look at that. Oh, wow! Isn't that good?
And pate. Ooh, I love pate.
Oh, and chicken! It's very luxurious, isn't it?
It's picnic fine dining, isn't it?
Will you give me some of that salad?
You don't have to wash up or anything, do you?
Everything's disposable, isn't it?
Like a serviette, Brandon?
The emergence of disposable, grease-proof paper plates
and paper serviettes meant middle-class families
could enjoy informal meals without domestic help.
Leaving Debbie indoors with her own treat -
one of the world's first vacuum cleaners,
aimed at trying to keep those in service happy.
It's a bit annoying.
It is hoovering with a tin can.
For someone in the 1910s,
it must have been quite hard to hardly earn anything,
and to just work all day
while the people that they work for go out and have picnics.
if this was sort of, like, something I might be doing for ever,
I wouldn't be happy with that,
I'd like to move on and look for better things.
Ooh! Don't do it like that. Do it like that.
Debbie at home does keep flashing across my mind.
I've got really bad aim. Oh!
I wish she could be here, too.
You feel a real sense of injustice
that Debbie is stuck in the kitchen at home
and she's prepared all this food,
and she's not even here to eat it, or enjoy the beautiful weather.
Whoa! Fred... Yeah?
Can you move a bit closer to Dad?
'Today's been a wonderful day. It's incredibly peaceful here.
'We've had delicious food.'
Some fantastic sort of family quality time.
We have no cares in the world.
It's just idyllic.
"Great Britain At War With Germany.
"At 11:17 last night,
"it was announced that a state of war exists
"between Great Britain and Germany."
Within days of the outbreak of war,
Britain was gripped by the fear that,
with imports threatened by attacks from the German Navy,
food supplies would run out
and the country would starve to death.
Without any restrictions on what you could purchase,
many of the middle classes sent their maids out
to panic buy with large containers.
Dustbins were a common choice.
Ideally, I want long-life things.
Tinned bits and sugar and things that'll keep.
People stripped shops bare,
getting from two months' to two years' supplies,
and prices soared.
Can I have seven rump steaks, um, two rabbits?
The authorities took a dim view of food hoarding.
Many were prosecuted,
including a woman from London who was fined ?10
for having nearly a tonne of food in her cupboard,
including 47 tins of cornflour.
I mean, the problem with this, of course, is the wealthy families
could absolutely fill your cupboard up.
But, for poorer families, this is really bad news,
they can't do this.
Is it just like pure selfishness, just pure greed?
I think it's survival. Yeah. I think people want to survive.
It's fear, isn't it, really? It's fear, it is fear.
In the first few months of the war, 750,000 men aged between 18 and 41
voluntarily enlisted to fight for their country.
The Robshaws don't have anyone of the right age to join up,
but across the country,
families invited departing friends and loved ones
to what became known as last hurrah dinners.
Families wanted to send off those going to war
with full hearts and stomachs.
Debbie's making a special feast of 12oz steaks
and delicious sugar-laden bread pudding.
Patrick, would you like to pass your bowl?
Miranda has invited her friend, Patrick,
who, at 19, would have been old enough to join up
and fight in the trenches.
I wonder how you'd feel if you were a young man
about to go off to fight, eating food like this,
and knowing that was the last time
he'd eat like this for a very long time.
Do you think they knew what they were going to expect,
or they had no idea?
I don't think they had much idea at all. No idea.
It was supposed to be a very short war. Over by Christmas.
You're right, that's what they said. "It'll be over by Christmas."
I mean, imagine thinking you were going to be, like,
away for a couple of months and it would be all right
and you'd, like...
Come back and everyone would be like, "Oh, well done."
Oh, marvellous! Three steaks in one. Wow, that'll keep you going!
It would be strange,
but I would imagine that there'd be an awful lot of confidence.
That they would go off and they would fight,
and because they were British
that they would come home safely and well.
I think the reality of what a war would have been like
would have been a million, million miles from their mind.
'I must say, throughout this experiment,
'I have been slightly dreading getting to 1914.
'I just think it is...'
There's something so tragic about it.
The awful, awful waste and loss of life.
This sense that the world was sort of being ripped apart
and that things would never be quite the same again.
The war that people thought would be over by Christmas
shows no sign of letting up.
Oh, Rochelle, this is for you. Thank you very much, Debbie.
The Belgian Cook Book.
This charity cookbook was published in 1915
to help support refugees from Belgium.
When Germany invaded Belgium,
soldiers torched its cities, and 23,000 Belgians were killed.
Terrified refugees fled the massacres
and 250,000 arrived in Britain.
They were embraced.
100,000 British people offered the new arrivals help and housing.
I think it's good that we were so welcoming.
I think that's a credit to us.
Whilst Debbie is following popular recipes
written by homesick Belgian refugees,
Brandon is taking precautions before the dinner.
If you can stuff that in there, that might just about cover it.
In 1915, for the first time in centuries,
war came to British soil,
as Zeppelin airships invaded and dropped over 5,000 bombs
causing nearly 2,000 civilian casualties.
The Government ordered the population to blackout their windows
or risk six months in prison.
I think it might have been
the sort of stuff of...almost nightmares.
I think it definitely brings everything a lot closer to home.
You just imagine a war going on in a different country, not yours.
It feels like the war is really hitting home now.
It feels like it's starting to bite,
and it's having an impact on the home front as well.
It's kind of hard cooking in a blackout
cos I can't really see well enough to see if things are done properly.
I'm kind of just working on guesswork.
Oh, Debbie. Thank you. Thank you.
A thick green soup.
I think it's really excellent how there was a cookery book
to help the refugee.
It's very, sort of, accepting, isn't it? Very welcoming.
One up to the Belgians for providing us with this.
I think Debbie has done us proud tonight. Definitely.
But change is afoot.
"As the war rages on, the opportunity has arised for you
"to escape the bonds of domestic service."
With the men away fighting, jobs opened up for women in new areas,
from aircraft factories to the railways.
The war liberated thousands of women from domestic service,
with work that offered higher wages and real camaraderie.
It's going to feel strange not being here
and putting on this attire and cooking for this family.
These are your apple fritters. Thank you very much.
Wow! What's that?
I'm also very sad to say that I've got to go help the war effort,
so I will be handing in my notice today.
You're handing in your notice, Debbie? Yeah.
FRED: What does that mean?
Debbie will be leaving us.
I hope you've enjoyed your last meal by me!
Yeah, we've enjoyed it very much.
That's good. I'll leave you to it.
Do you feel gutted? I do. I really, really do.
I actually feel really, really sorry that she's going. I really do.
It feels like it's been a really long time.
She's cooked us every single meal, practically, that we've had here.
It's sad, isn't it?
When I ring the bell, nobody will come.
The war saw almost 400,000 women leave service
to help with the war effort.
Debbie is heading off to the country to do her bit.
I guess this is it. Well, good luck with everything.
Thanks. And to you guys.
I've enjoyed being here. It has been hard, that's no lie.
For someone like me in the 1910s,
I think that they would have been excited to leave
and do something different.
It's kind of like, welcome to the real world, isn't it? Mm.
We've all got to do the washing up now.
It's not "we"...
In 1916, the Battle of the Somme saw Britain suffer
nearly 60,000 casualties on the first day alone.
And the conflict was also having an impact on the nation's tables.
With imports down
and the needs of soldiers on the front line taking priority,
there were shortages at home.
We've got less food... than we're used to.
With Debbie gone,
it's up to Rochelle to do the best she can with what is available.
She's making porridge and eggs in the latest poaching gadget.
They're not quite poaching effectively.
Debbie knows everything, but she's gone.
And she didn't tell me how to poach an egg.
I think they're done.
'Are you ready for breakfast?' Yes!
'I'm waiting to eat it.'
Oh, jolly good. What have we got? Porridge. Porridge.
And poached eggs. Poached eggs, I say!
FRED: They're not cooked. I can see the white liquid...
Well, you don't have to have that.
Would you like some porridge?
Debbie hasn't cooked it, so I don't want nothing to do with it.
Do you want two eggs, Brandon?
Eh, no. I think I will just have one egg.
Our whole sort of way of life in this bubble of pleasure
has been sort of stripped away.
While the war offered new opportunities
for young women like Debbie,
the conflict also gave middle-class women surprising freedoms.
Would you like some tea and cake?
In 1916, soldiers and sailors' free buffets were set up
at railway stations which had large numbers of servicemen
passing through on the way to war.
The buffets were run by women volunteers,
who served tea and cakes in six-hour shifts.
Sugar? Thank you.
It would be, sort of, a welcome treat, wouldn't it,
when you come off the train. Yeah.
Over the course of the war,
more than eight million servicemen were looked after by the buffets,
one of the largest interactions
between the home front and the front line.
Very nice. Yeah, not bad for home made, is it?
You could see that it brightened up their day
and it just gave them a little morale boost.
So it must have been really, really important for the soldiers.
Like, having gone from sitting in the parlour
and feeling very restricted and restrained,
you're out and you're in a busy station,
and there are people everywhere and people are coming and going,
and that change of atmosphere must have been immense.
For those at home, 1917 was the worst year of the war,
with access to food and fuel severely restricted.
In the Atlantic, German U-boat attacks
on Britain's merchant shipping intensified.
1917 saw nearly 4,000 ships hit,
with the loss of 46,000 tonnes of meat
and 85,000 tonnes of sugar.
Without the food imports Britain relied on,
there wasn't enough to go around
and many faced the very real threat of starvation.
The government responded by issuing guidelines for voluntary rationing.
I have sent the Robshaws the government's 1917 advice booklet
so they can cook and eat as England expects.
The How And Why Of The Hay Box.
We could save half the coal and gas
which we now use for cooking our food by using the hay box.
I cannot believe this will work. Why not?
I don't believe hay can cook things.
You start that end, I'll start at this end
and we'll meet in the middle.
Coal and gas were rationed due to wartime labour shortages,
and so the hay box cooker, a wooden box filled with hay,
was promoted as a way of cooking food using far less fuel.
Argh! Oh, are you all right?
You know, on the one hand, it does show things
had got really tough on the home front.
On the other hand I think it's a tribute to people's ingenuity.
And I have got to say, I think this is an ingenious solution.
I think it's such a good idea.
That will be perfect.
Rochelle is preparing wartime soup,
a vegetarian kedgeree and a savoury cheese Charlotte pudding
to go in Brandon's hay box.
I'm just using up, like, everything that we've got.
Nothing is going to waste.
So there is stale cheese and stale bread.
Every single scrap is being used.
During this year, supplies of basic items began to run out
and prices soared.
Food was costing a staggering 80% more
than at the start of the war.
With prices like these, some families couldn't afford to eat,
so the government set up national kitchens
offering cheap, simple meals.
One in London fed up to 50,000 people a day.
Not everyone needed the kitchens,
but all families were having to tighten their belts.
For the middle classes, if they were to look back just a few years
to that time when they were living a life of sort of unfettered luxury,
then, within a few years, you have very, very, very little,
I think it would've been almost unthinkable.
As well as the loss of food imports,
Britain's agricultural production had been hit
by the departure of farm workers for the front line.
So the Women's Land Army was formed to keep Britain's farms going.
Debbie has come to a Shropshire farm to do her war duty,
earning four times what she did as a maid.
Come on then, boys, come round, steady.
Sometimes it doesn't pay to be small!
Even though I really enjoy cooking, and I like working for the Robshaws,
I think this is a step up.
It must have been such a revelation to sort of come here
and be able to work outside and not be stuck in a kitchen all day.
Aw, there we go.
It's nice to work with the animals as well.
Like, before, I was just cooking them!
For someone back in the 1910s who'd just been a maid forever and ever,
to come out and do this must have been amazing.
The new focus on domestic food production
saw 2.5 million acres of unploughed land turned over
to growing much-needed crops like wheat and potatoes.
Here comes the hay box!
This is narrow. Watch your head.
Right, I've got to lift it over the door handle.
HE GASPS IN PAIN OK...
It's a bit big, Brandon.
It's massive. Well, don't you want it to be massive?
Honestly, I've never heard of anybody complaining
because their hay box was too large - that is a new one.
I'm really glad you appreciate it. It's just, like...
It's just a bit big, isn't it?
Once the pan has been heated up on the hob,
the food should continue to slow cook in the hay box,
taking about three times longer than an oven.
I don't really think that's going to work, personally.
With the hay box taking the strain,
the ladies have time to knit more socks for the front.
Yeah, the problem is you can't actually find what you've buried.
Ah, here you are.
That is actually warm.
This was all cooked in your box. Cooked in the hay box?
Cooked in the hay box.
What's it like? MUMBLES: Piping hot!
There's no wine on the table, there's no meat on the table.
There's no maid to cook and bring the food to us.
So we've gone down to a very sort of simple way of living, haven't we?
A simple way of eating.
By 1918, it was clear that voluntary rationing had been a failure.
Whilst the better off could afford high food prices,
poor Britons were starving.
And so, four years after the outbreak of war,
compulsory food rationing was introduced.
Already we've sort of, like, given up everything.
And now we've got to give it up even more. Mm.
Everyone was issued a ration card.
Even the Royal Family.
Without Debbie, Rochelle has to shop for rations herself.
Good morning. Good morning.
I've come for my rations.
Each person was allowed eight ounces of sugar
and four ounces of butter.
That's for one person for one week.
Right. That's not very much, is it? No, it's not very much at all.
And 15 ounces of meat - around the size of two beefburgers -
for the whole week.
We've been having much more than that.
I don't know what my husband will say.
Although bread wasn't rationed, its ingredients were restricted.
Before the war, almost 80% of Britain's wheat was imported.
So without supplies coming in,
the government made bakers use substitutes
such as rice, beans and even potato.
I've sent Masterchef's John Torode as a surprise
to help Rochelle make a wartime loaf.
Hello. G'day. Hi, I'm John. Hi, John. Come in.
This is a little present. A Win-The-War cookbook.
This was published by the Ministry for Food,
and the whole thing about winning the war is eating less bread.
"Each one pound less bread per week then you are eating now.
"Yes! Complete victory if you eat less bread."
I feel well prepared now to sort of tackle the Hun.
I mean, it's amazing, isn't it,
the sort of propaganda that goes with it?
But, at the same time, of course, they had to get a message across
to people that they had to try and be a little bit more frugal.
So, shall we make some bread?
First on the dinner menu from the wartime cookery book
is bread made with barley flour.
Barley, which had traditionally been grown for animal feed,
made for a much chewier, denser loaf of bread.
The sugar will feed the yeast,
which means the yeast will be activated.
Now we throw away around 24 million slices of bread a day.
Back in 1918, there were heavy fines for any waste.
They had people who would snoop into people's rubbish,
and if you threw bread away, you're in big, big trouble.
That looks pretty professional.
Bread's going to win the war.
I might start lobbing it at the Germans
if they get over the garden fence.
The wartime cookery book also encouraged
the use of substitutes for meat.
I don't think I've ever had a fish sausage. No.
It just doesn't sound attractive, does it? No.
It's the word "sausage", isn't it? Fish sausage.
White fish and rice is rolled in oatmeal,
but to save eggs for soldiers at the front,
the recipe uses water to bind them together instead.
What I want to know is how anything's supposed to stick
to the outside of this.
I mean, look. Oh, it's crumbling, isn't it?
Crumbling? Yeah. It's a disaster.
I don't suppose these went down very well.
Well, there you go, that's for you. Good luck with your dinner. OK.
Very nice to meet you. You, too. Enjoy the rest of 1918.
Thanks very much indeed.
I think the fact that food was being rationed,
it must have made people quite afraid that, suddenly,
they were getting these booklets telling them how to cook
with very stern and strict orders.
It must have felt that the war
was becoming closer and closer and closer
to, sort of, your very front door.
For dessert, Rochelle's made flourless and sugarless parkin.
It's quite overdone.
A little bit burnt, actually.
I'm starving, I'll eat anything. Anything. I'd eat hay.
And the barley loaf is out of the oven.
You probably need a hacksaw!
Oh, what's this, then? What's that?
Fish sausages. They don't look like sausages.
No, they don't look like sausages.
Well, in what respect are they sausages, then?
In no respect at all.
The mixture was too difficult to manipulate. Right.
It's nice. It's all right. Yeah.
I'm not so sure about this bread. What's wrong with it?
It tastes a bit mildewy. Does it? Mm.
Hats off to John Torode for helping us do those recipes.
Do we put him through to the next round?
He would have sneaked through on the basis of the fish sausage, I think.
Here is the parkin.
Would you like to..? Not really.
It's crisp and it's crumbly.
And it's burnt. And it's bitter.
Although, I'm so hungry, I'm going to eat it all up.
There's not much food here at all.
I think you would have to get used to a blander diet.
Food just becomes something slightly more like fuel,
just to keep you going, wouldn't it?
That Edwardian era of luxury and prosperity
seems very, very distant now,
and it's as if we have run into reality with a hard, painful bump.
But on November 11th 1918, there was good news at last.
Look, "Victory!" Ooh!
"Our terms accepted today.
"Last shots fired at 11am."
You can just imagine the massive sense of relief.
Finally, it's over.
TRIUMPHANT ORCHESTRAL MUSIC
To celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in June,
there were street parties held across the country.
So the Robshaws are holding a celebratory peace tea.
We are back to join in the revelries.
Hello. Hello, Giles, welcome. Come in.
ALL: # ..the sweetest girl I know
# Goodbye, Piccadilly
# Farewell, Leicester Square
# It's a long, long way to Tipperary
# But my heart's right there. #
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
# Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag
# And smile, smile, smile... #
How were the 1910s for you?
We've gone from feast to famine, basically.
In the first half of the decade, we really were living it up,
and, for me, it was fantastic, it was delicious, I loved it.
And when things had to change
because of the war, because of the shortages,
if you were living for weeks and months and years
through that very simple food, that must have been a terrible shock.
What about the business of losing your staff?
It was very hard because she was, like, really, really good,
and to some extent you get used to having that
and it felt very comfortable.
I was sorry that she went,
but I thought it was right she should go.
She was serving us and not the nation.
How about you?
Did you feel, as women, that your roles moved on a bit?
Our roles definitely changed as a result of the First World War.
Women were forced into a more practical role,
whether that was taking Debbie's place in the home,
or kind of going out and doing other work.
What about Debbie leaving?
Yeah, we were very sorry to see her go
because Debbie is a much better cook than other people in my family,
not saying any names.
Here we go, peace cake.
Anyone like a piece? Yes!
BRANDON: This has been a very strange era to live through.
Those early years of the decade now seem very, very innocent
and full of fun and happiness.
It's as if, like, the sort of...
the blade of history just descended
and the second half, you know, was full of fear and foreboding,
and not having quite enough to eat.
Our whole way of living from the first part of the decade
has been turned upside down and on its head.
Out of turmoil comes change,
and sometimes that change will be good.
I'm looking forward to the future now.
I feel that we have been through
this long, hard slog of the Great War
and emerging from it just at the end of this decade,
one feels that things could only get better.
Next time, the Robshaws embrace the rapid changes...
..of the Roaring 20s.
Oh, God, I just wish Debbie was here.
I might have to go off and find her, and beg her to come back!
# It's a long way to Tipperary
# It's a long way to go
# It's a long way to Tipperary,
# To the sweetest girl I know
# Goodbye, Piccadilly
# Farewell, Leicester Square... #
What have you been up to? Something grubby?
I'm Dame Judi Dench, I'm a national treasure!
Why settle for a German Europe when you could have a Scottish world?
If she wants independence, I'll make her head independent from her body.
The Robshaw family are experienced time travellers, but this time they are going further back than they have ever been before - to the turn of the 20th century, to discover how the food we ate and the way we ate it helped shape the modern family. An ordinary house in south London is their time machine, transporting them through five decades and two world wars. Guided by presenters Giles Coren and social historian Polly Russell, they trace the incredible changes to Britain's diet and the extraordinary social transformation they reveal. This time, it is a decade of feast and famine as the family enter the turbulent 1910s. At the start of the decade, the family's servant Debbie is still doing all the cooking and cleaning. But change is on the horizon, as the first world war turns all their lives upside down, bringing freedom and opportunity to Debbie and putting Rochelle back in the kitchen. Never a natural cook, she struggles to feed the family as supplies start to run out - as they did for many families during World War I - and the war puts an end to their previously carefree lives. But the decade has its upsides too - there is respite from offal with a vegetarian Suffragist dinner, the freedom of a bike ride and an idyllic picnic and a visit from celebrity chef John Torode, but even he can't rescue 1918's fish sausages.