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Wartime Cuisine

La cucina autarchica La cucina autarchica La cucina autarchica Desinaretti per… questi tempi The war brought to an extreme “cooking with little or nothing”. Already during the First World War, alongside the publications about security and advice for civilians, cooking manuals started to appear: in 1916, “La Donna” a magazine published in Turin, printed an issue about wartime cuisine, called Cucina di guerra. Cento ricette di cucina igienica senza carne (Wartime Cuisine. 100 healthy recipes without meat). The issue was written by Giulia Peyretti, who suggested how to find substitutions for the foods that had become hard to find or too expensive. Now, with the outbreak of the Second World War, the number of texts with suggestions for Italian women on how to save and reclaim every possible thing increased significantly.  Non sprecare (Do not waste) – as suggested by the title of a guide from 1941 – was the number one rule: “Pay attention to everything that gets thrown out in the garbage. Everything can be used”. In 1942, La cucina autarchica (Self-sufficient cooking) by Elisabetta Randi and A cucina del tempo di guerra  (Cooking during the war) by Lunella De Seta were published in Florence; and in 1943, La cucina italiana della resistenza (Italian Cooking of the Resistance) by Emilia Zamara was printed in Milan.  Meanwhile Petronilla, having already become famous, published a series of books: Ricette per tempi eccezionali, (Recipes for exceptional times) in 1941; Ricettario per i tempi difficili, (Recipes for difficult times) in 1942; 200 suggerimenti per… questi tempi difficili, (200 suggestions for …these difficult times) in 1943 and Desinaretti per… questi tempi, in 1944 – all of which were published in Milan by Sonzogno, and illustrate, for example, how to successfully us the core of cabbage, the peel of a potato, in innards of a chicken and the foam that forms on stock. And the triumph of substitutions: mayonnaise without oil, gelatin without meat, desserts without sugar, chocolate without cacao, and even coffee without coffee. The times were really hard but, finally, the war came to an end. And with the desire for rebirth and reconstruction, an interest in gastronomy also returned.