Recipes from the National Mark

The National Mark was a government trade-mark, introduced in the 1930’s as a sign of quality control; as it says in the introduction to the little recipe book published in 1936 “the goods it stamps are our own goods; the food is our own country’s food, produced in England and Wales by our own folk and all the better for it.” (One wonders about the farmers of Scotland and Northern Ireland, maybe there was a similar scheme in those countries too) Then, in a comment which could have been written today, supporting the agricultural industry, “to buy National Mark products means not only that you are benefiting by its guarantee, but that you are helping your own farmers and growers.”

I was interested that there was this sentiment already abroad even before the war when through blockades people had to fall back on home produced food.

The National Mark Calendar of Cooking, is a great little booklet with a detailed explanation of the different grading schemes for not just beef, poultry, eggs and dairy, but also ‘fresh, canned and bottled’ fruit and vegetables, jam, honey, cider and perry, fruit juice syrups, flour, malt products and wheat flakes.

The book is divided into twelve chapters for each month of the year. Thee is a most delightful woodcut at the top of each  chapter, produced by Blair Hughes-Stanton, a most eminent artist of the time. There is a jolly little introduction, commenting on what is available, traditions and customs and other useful information; the introduction were written by Mrs. D.D.Cottington Taylor and Mr Ambrose Heath. She was a director of the Good Housekeeping Institute, and he was a cookery book writer and cookery correspondent to The News Chronicle and other papers.

Before the actual recipes there is a list of fruits and vegetables available and then an index to the recipes in that chapter. At the end of the recipes, after December, there is a note on herbs and spices, three pages of information. There is also a page on ‘hints for cake making and baking’ followed by the index. There are over two hundred recipes, which is amazing for such a small, pocket-sized book, especially when you consider some of the glossy, fancy cookery books available now which have a fairly small number of actual recipes squeezed among glossy photos… delightful woodcuts or fancy food montages?? Give me Mr Hughes-Stanton!


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