Good food and hard times: Ambrose Heath's contribution to British food culture of the 1930s and the war years.
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Lyon, P. (2015) Good food and hard times: Ambrose Heath's contribution to British food culture of the 1930s and the war years., Food and History, vol. 12, , pp. 99-117,
Today, little attention is paid to Ambrose Heath (1891-1969) although he was a prolific British food writer in the 1930s and during the Second World War. Heath's remarkable output for national and regional newspapers in Britain and the many books he wrote, co-authored, edited, contributed to or translated provided a considerable encouragement for what he termed 'good food'. In one sense, he might be viewed simply as an intermediary between 'authentic' gastronomic voices and a wider readership; however, his engagement with that audience was no mean feat and, arguably, was important for the successful diffusion of a more cosmopolitan culinary culture. Although a staunch defender of British ingredients and traditional dishes, he was perplexed by what he saw as the widespread atrophy of cooking skills in Britain and reached for French culinary ideas to show what might be done - simply and economically but producing the hallmark 'good food' he espoused. With the outbreak of the Second World War, the 'good food' narrative was largely eclipsed but, on the basis of his pre-war popularity, he contributed significantly to the way that the wartime government, and ordinary people, tried to make inadequate food supplies meet demands. He wrote and broadcast to advise the civilian population what they could do to make food interesting even with restricted supplies and vital ingredients missing. Although he played an important part in that wartime resilience, he is now virtually forgotten in reviews of that era. This article examines his contribution to British food culture in the 1930s and the war years.