Episode 5: French Soldiers

This episode is by far my most watched and shared.  Perhaps because it is one of the only ones where the food is actually edible.  I had fantastic support for this episode, not least of all a culinary genius and actual French speaker who kept me on the right track.  (She also directed several of the other episodes).

Not only was the Rata easy, but it was tasty.  It was also really interesting to consider the cooking, eating, and dietary habits of other soldiers from this time period.

(This video also has my only negative comment on it – which alludes to the fact that I do not know what I am talking about.  It still makes me smile)



♣ All you need to make his for 2 people is

♣ 1 kg of potatoes

♣ 1 large onion

♣ 1 tablespoon of lard

♣ 650 ml of water

♣ 1/2 tablespoon of salt


Making the Rata is very easy: –

Peel your pre-cooked potatoes and then cut into thick slices – Cut the lard into small square (1 spoons) –

Peel 1 onion and finely chop –

Put the lard in the pan on a medium heat until melted –

Add the onion – cook for a minute whilst moving it –

Add the potato –

Add to two thirds of the salt –

Spoon the lard over the potatoes –

Then add water –

Boil and then let it simmer for 15 minutes –

Taste and add the salt as necessary- And you are done!

Thanks for watching and enjoy the rata, its actually very good!


References: Livre De Cuisine Militaire Aux Manoeuvres et En Campagne (Paris: Librairie Militaire R. Chapelot et Cie, 1909), accessed on Gallica 01/07/2017. Cuisine roulante bien protégée, un poilu goûte le jus avec satisfaction, dans un abri en sacs de terre et rondins (press photograph), Agence de presse Meurisse, accessed on Gallica 01/07/2017 La cuisine des poilus (press photograph), 1915, Agence de presse Meurisse, accessed on Gallica 01/07/2017 Lucien Barou, Mémoires de la Grande Guerre – 187 Poilus du Forez et de sa périphérie témoignent, Volume 3, 1916 (Saint-Étienne: Loire Departmental Archives, 2014). The War Office, The British Army Cook Book 1914 Reprint, (Gloucestershire, 2014). Matthew Richardson, The Hunger War: Food, Rations and Rationing, 1914-1918 (Barnsley: Pen and Sword Military, 2015), p.11

Additional reading: A. Clayton, Paths of Glory, The French Army 1914-18, (London: Cassell Military Paperback, 2005). R. Duffett. The Stomach for Fighting: Food and the Soldiers of the Great War (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2012). A. Robertshaw, Feeding Tommy, Battlefield Recipes from the First World War, (Gloucestershire, 2013) D. Winter, Death’s Men: Soldiers of The Great War (London, 2014).

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