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Did I tell you about? Wartime Pastry Making

by Terryvardy

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Gerald Sawyer
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Contributed on: 
17 December 2003

This story is by Gerald Sawyer

Did I tell you about War- time pastry making?
Fats were always in short supply. If you were fortunate enough to know a friendly pig keeper or were on good terms with the butcher with whom you were registered, the occasional piece of pork fat may come your way. Gently cooked, or ‘rendered’ down, it produced precious lard. Whenever at a Church service or concert, the preacher or chairman says, “The choir will render the anthem…”, I always think of home rendered lard. An added bonus was the scraps that were left from the process. They were very tasty, but highly Cholesterolific, if such a word exists. Mind you, in those days we knew nothing of Cholesterol and its connection with heart disease. The fat saved from beef or lamb would be used to make savoury pastry, but the flavour was far too strong for sweet things. From time to time we would get an extra supply of American lard, along with dried egg and dried milk, subject always to the safe arrival of an Atlantic convoy.

One Christmas, We, the family that is thought that we had cracked it when one member of the family came home with a seven pound tin of Vaseline. Its label read ’White Petroleum Jelly’ for external use only.
Undeterred, Mum, Auntie Elsie and Grandma met at 155 a few days before Christmas and had a marathon baking session. The piles of jam and lemon curd tarts, mince pies and Bakewell’s grew on the kitchen table, as again anticipation of consuming them rose equally. After they had cooled, first tasting began. The pastry was a trifle hard, but none the less edible. Congratulations were offered to the one who bought the Vaseline
Christmas came and went, with no ill effects coming from our baking treats. However, a couple of years later, large packages of Vaseline were removed from the market, as research showed that eating even small quantities could trigger off bowel cancer. Thank God, none of our family were affected.

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