Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mock duck

A regular dish on the family table when I was growing up
in the 1950s was something called mock duck—at least,
that’s what my mother called it; I was never sure if that
wasn’t just her own name for it. It presented as a kind of
meat loaf that we always found tasty and filling. I may
have been aware even then that it didn’t actually have
any meat in it. Of this I can now be certain, having just
come across an Aunt Daisy recipe from 1948 for it; it
seems to have been popular post-war (and possibly in
earlier times of shortage, like the Great Depression) as a
way of filling the belly when real meat was unavailable.
For some years after the Second World War, many foods
in New Zealand were rationed: you were allotted a limited
number of coupons to buy them. Not that New Zealand
per se was short of food for its own population but we
were sending as much as we could to Britain, some of it in
the form of food parcels. The general feeling was that the
blitzed and bombed-out Brits needed it more than we did.
Anyway, mock duck, according to the Aunt Daisy version
anyway, appears to have consisted essentially of a vast
quantity of lentils, with an egg and a few stale breadcrumbs
thrown in. If that's the way Mum made it, I'm astonished;
I had no idea that lentils even existed in the 1950s. I don't
think I knowingly met my first lentil till at least 1974. Had
lentils publicly declared their presence in Masterton in the
50s they would have been as suspect as bean sprouts or
bok choi and would almost certainly have been detained
for questioning by the authorities or even incarcerated in
a lentil asylum. Even now, I have mixed feelings about
lentils: the thought that I may have consumed them in bulk
during my formative years is disquieting. Was mock duck,
in fact, a Communist plot? That would explain a lot.


homepaddock said...

Lentils were around in the 1960s - my mother always put them in her vegetable soup. My brothers & I hated them and such is the passion with which I hated them then I still haven't quite grown up enough to make or consumer soup containing them if there's an option not to.

Anonymous said...

Lentil asylum.
you're killing me....don't stop!

Owen said...

My mother says her mother sold lentils in her Adelaide Road shop in Wellington in the 30s.

Anonymous said...

Turning on, Tuning in and Dropping out for a year or two in the isolated Wairarapa township of Mauriceville at the beginning of the 70's I recall a member of our short-lived intentional community required margarine. Obviously this was akin to eating lentils - another act by Godless communists seeking to destroy our way of life by not eating butter. A trip to Masterton was required to purchase the aforementioned item, from a pharmacy and with a doctor's prescription. I can't recall if it was provided in plain brown wrapper so as not to enrage the locals.