By Helen Perrodo
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This is a small exhibition that takes place in one room of modest size, on the floor Quesnel Morinier Museum, in Coutances.
Although small, but very interesting and especially well placed. This should especially please your children.
“We wanted it to be accessible to everyone, from children to adults,” confirms Sophie Escalmel, director of heritage and museums at Coutances Mer et Bocage.
Rations, resourcefulness and the black market
300 gr. no more ! makes us experience what it was like to “eat in Normandy in the 1940s”, underGerman occupation.
A quick historical reminder: German troops have landed in Normandy since June 1940: this means that there are almost 20,000 mouths to feed, i.e. one German soldier for every 25 inhabitants. There are restrictions on the sale of milk, butter or meat. “Filling the plate becomes a daily challenge.”
Rations, resourcefulness and the black market: the exhibition tells how the Normans organize to fill their basket during a shortage.
Some examples decrees of mayors or prefects, as well as the opinions written by the Germans are presented to the public. During the occupation, they are part of everyday life.
Thus, in Coutances, from July 1941 to August 1942, the town hall will receive almost 400 arrested to display !
Propaganda posters produced by Vichy
Also hanging on the wall are posters from the Vichy government explaining to the French how reduce food waste during this period of scarcity: cut the bread into thin slices and use the crust in the soup, boil the potatoes in their skins, use the tops for the soup: “Nothing is missing, everything is ready!” »
Other official posters are more ominous, such as a poster warning those involved in black market, an underground market where prices are sold at a price higher than the official one.
We see two men standing with their backs making a deal: bread for money. Drawn between them hangman’s noose. The message of Vichy and the occupiers is clear: the black market is a crime. However, at the Liberation it will be perceived as an act of civil resistance.
Rutabaga, chicory and a “healthy” omelet
it’s the same recipes : a “healthy” omelet sprinkled with breadcrumbs, or even several options based on swede, a vegetable that replaces potatoes: swede with sauerkraut, breaded swede, lyonnaise, etc.
Rutabaga, which is even displayed in an old-fashioned colander. Just like in the middle of the exhibition hall, there is a table on which a place is placed: a tureen, plates, a coffee maker (for chicory, which very often replaces coffee). All you have to do is sit down and go back in time!
Even if the war, alas, caught up with this time, as well as Europe… “When we designed the exhibition, we could not even imagine that it would resonate with current events in Ukraine,” Sophie Escalmel admits.
Exercise. 300 gr. no more ! “Food in Normandy in the 1940s”. The exhibition is open at the Quesnel-Morinier Museum until 6 November. Free admission. Information by phone 02 33 07 07 88.
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