a1 Newcastle University School of Historical Studies.
‘Famine foods’ seems a self-explanatory term but careful reading of the existing literature suggests otherwise. ‘Famine foods’ seem to suggest repulsive and unfamiliar foods consumed only in famine situations. This paper, using the Greek famine of 1941–43 as a case study, suggests that this is not the case. Starving people continue to use foods that they are familiar with or that other sections of the population are familiar with. The very poor sections of the population may well use fodder food, which nevertheless they are familiar with and which in most cases was also used by some of their members even in ‘normal’ times.
Que mangent les affamés ? Le cas de la Grèce, vu à travers l'histoire orale
“Aliments de famine” semble une expression d'elle-même bien explicite. Cependant, si l'on s'appuie sur les témoignages disponibles à ce jour, c'est une autre réalité qui surgit. La formulation “aliments de famine” suggère a priori à l'esprit une nourriture repoussante et inhabituelle, spécifique aux temps de grande pénurie. La présente étude, qui s'appuie sur le cas de la famine qui sévit en Grèce de 1941 à 1943, suggère qu'il en va autrement: les affamés continuent à consommer des aliments familiers ou des produits qui sont familiers à d'autres secteurs de la population. Quant aux personnes les plus démunies, elles se rabattent sur ces «herbes et racines» qui leur sont de toutes façons familières et que certains des leurs, d'ailleurs, consomment même en temps normal, lorsqu'il n'y a pas de crise alimentaire.
Was essen Leute, die hungern? Der Fall Griechenland im Spiegel der Oral History
Der Begriff „Hungernahrung“ scheint für sich selbst zu sprechen, aber wenn man die einschlägige Literatur genauer liest, sieht es ganz anders aus. „Hungernahrung“ scheint auf abstoßende und ungewöhnliche Nahrung zu verweisen, die nur in Hungersnöten konsumiert wird. Dieser Beitrag, eine Fallstudie über die griechische Hungersnot von 1941–43, behauptet jedoch, dass dies nicht zutrifft. Auch Hungernde nehmen weiterhin Nahrungsmittel zu sich, mit denen entweder sie selbst oder andere Bevölkerungsschichten vertraut sind. Die ärmsten Bevölkerungsschichten mögen zwar auch „Futternahrung“ zu sich nehmen – aber eben nur solche, mit der sie vertraut sind und die in den meisten Fällen zumindest von einigen ihrer Mitglieder auch in „normalen“ Zeiten konsumiert wird.
Food is central in famines. Still, despite the extensive literature concerning famines, the reader struggles to find any references as to what people actually eat during famines, apart from the oft-cited references to ‘famine foods’. As a result of anthropological studies, we become aware that, for ‘subsistence-oriented’ populations, the annual hunger period provides a ‘training ground’ for potential famines. During those periods, such people consciously reduce their food intake but also increasingly consume wild foodstuffs – foods that, in times of plenty, they consume either not at all or only occasionally. Identical strategies are adopted in the early stages of famines.1 However, eventually, when severe famine strikes, we are told, people consume unusual ‘famine foods’, including rodents, roots, leaves, earth, grass, bark, old animal skins and leather.2 In essence, famine foods are mostly presented, usually implicitly, as foodstuffs that are unusual for the suffering population – ‘plants consumed only at times of food stress’.3 In recent years, and through the observation of contemporary – mostly African – populations in crisis, famine foods have been virtually equated with wild foods, although the latter are still defined by many as wild plants that ‘would not normally be consumed due to local taboos or unpleasant side effects’.4 Only recently has the equating of famine foods and wild/traditional vegetables been explored and challenged, again by anthropologists. Jocelyn Muller and Astier Almedom, studying a village in Niger, established that the terms ‘traditional vegetables’ and ‘famine foods’ are not synonymous.5 Moreover, they discovered that the term ‘famine foods’ did not elicit a consensus by the villagers as to what it may have been referring. The meaning of the term is equally elusive among historical studies of famines. I will argue in this paper that famine foods are not unusual foods that famished people consume only in times of famines. Rather, the foods they consume in famine situations are familiar foods, foods that are consumed in normal times too by some sections of the famished society. The paper focuses on the case of the Greek famine of 1941–4 and primarily uses (although not exclusively) oral interviews with survivors of that famine. Because the existing literature on consumption patterns in pre-Second World War Greece is extremely limited and virtually non-existent in English, the article starts with an outline of food consumption patterns in pre-war Greece distinguishing between urban and rural populations, affluent and poor.6 The food consumption of the same groups is compared with the period of food crisis. But prior to this, the causes and timing of the famine are presented and the sources employed are discussed.
Greece was occupied from April 1941 to September 1944. The whole period of occupation was one of a serious food crisis where different communities suffered to a different degree at different times depending – among many other things – on levels of local production and accessibility of individuals to land and its produce. The peak of mortality was experienced, in most cases, in the winter of 1941–2. Three island populations that suffered heavily as a result of the famine are studied here: the island of Mykonos, the island of Syros and the towns of Hios and Vrontados on the island of Hios. Their populations, according to the 1940 national census, were 4,560, 25,952 and 32,328, respectively. The famine – here defined as a period of abnormally high mortality – lasted 8, 17 and 16 months, respectively, though Syros experienced a second mortality increase in the period January to July 1944. The famine started in November, August and October 1941, respectively. The crude death rate increased 9-fold, 6-fold and 4.6-fold, respectively, during the famine period and in comparison with the ‘normal’ years of 1938–9.7
These island populations were among the worst-hit populations by the famine. One of the reasons for this was the severe restrictions imposed by the Occupation authorities on the moving of food and people. Considering that none of these islands produced enough foodstuffs to feed their own population in normal times, that the population was not allowed to leave and that no food could come in, the famine was inevitable. Still, some people escaped from Hios and some food came through relief operations but neither of these was sufficient to prevent the famine. While for the specific islands the famine was a result of food availability decline, for the whole country it was mostly the collapse of the markets that created a variety of different local situations.8 Nevertheless, within each island different occupational groups suffered disproportionately according to the level of their entitlements. Interestingly, those entitlements did not remain stable but changed over the rather long period of the food crisis.9 It is important to note that virtually all excess deaths that took place during the famine among the studied populations were due to starvation rather than epidemic diseases and hence the patterns of food consumption are of paramount importance rather than a secondary dimension in terms of mortality.10
It is interviews with elderly survivors of the famine that constitute the central source of this paper. Twenty-two interviews were conducted on Hios, an equal number on Syros and twenty-eight on Mykonos. To avoid disclosing the identity of the informants, each interview was assigned a number. For Hios and Syros the focus of the interviews was the famine and the interviews took place in 2000 and 2001. For Mykonos the interviews took place in 1994 and were focused on the life histories of the informants, including family limitation. Because of that, most of the Mykonos informants were or had been married women. In contrast, among the Syros and Hios informants overall there was a balance between male and female informants.11 Informants came from all social classes and from both rural and urban environments. The youngest of all informants was born in 1934 though the majority were born in the 1920s or earlier.12
The variety of backgrounds of these individuals was certainly reflected in the variety of their responses in relation to the famine. The interviews revealed a multitude of situations with informants referring to – virtually – all possible variations observed in a famine situation from those who did not experience any shortage to those who observed a good number of family members die from starvation. Significantly, there were no apparent ‘internal’ contradictions of the evidence supplied from the various informants, certainly not when the evidence was considered in its appropriate context.
No claim to representativeness can be made since the informants were not only survivors of the famine but also individuals who had managed to survive at least until the day of the interview. Rather, the obtained pieces of information are used along with evidence from published sources, as and when such sources exist.
The nutrition of the population was the focus of significant attention by academics in Greece in the 1930s. On the one hand, this arose from the government's concern with national agricultural production levels and autarky. Equally important seem to have been the concerns of Western Europeans regarding the diet and nutrition of the poorer sections of their populations. These same concerns were reflected in Greek academic circles by detailed studies concerning the urban proletariat, portraying a picture of nutritional disadvantage for these groups. Other academics saw as most disadvantaged the rural populations, who consumed almost exclusively ‘pulses and greens’ and considered meat a luxury.13 Yet, others declared that the diet of the Greek population as a whole was seriously deficient in animal protein and milk, and that the food consumption of Western populations (such as the German one, with its high consumption of milk and meat) should constitute the blueprint for subsequent Greek consumption.14 These views were strongly challenged by others who saw the Greek diet as appropriate for the environment and economy of the country, emphasising that the diet was ‘if not luxurious, certainly sufficient’.15 Although this theoretical clash of opinions did not affect state policies, it led to several studies in the 1930s, outlining what some sections of the Greek population were consuming.16 In all such studies, a distinction was drawn between consumption practices in urban as opposed to rural populations, and also between those of affluent urban dwellers and the urban proletariat, either implicitly or explicitly.17
In assessing the patterns of food consumption and nutrition in the period preceding the Second World War, as well as using existing written sources I have also drawn on the interviews. The main reason for utilising both sources is because the former source, collected and presented by middle-class, urban, male academics reflects their own preferences and prejudices as to what constituted appropriate food.18 The rural population in all three places appeared to rely overwhelmingly on their own produce, as is also suggested in the contemporary literature:19
Q. Do you remember what you were eating at your mother's house, your father's, when you were a child? Did you eat meat, fish?
A. We would have a pig, 150 kilos, and we would slaughter it and we would [preserve] it in salt and when it was the season for greens [horta] we would gather wild greens and we would cook two pieces [of the pork], this much [very little] every child, and a plateful of greens and we would eat. We had fava beans, chickpeas, beans, this is what we ate. With those things we supplied the household. Other things did not exist; those that exist today did not exist then.
Q. Did you eat fish?
A. Fish, we would go to the sea to pick up, this time of the year [spring] left-overs [aporihakia] and the boats would come and they would take out the fish and they would leave the small ones on the beach …
Q. How often would you eat fish?
A. Fish were cheap. If you gave him [the fisherman] a handful of beans he would give you a bucketful of fish … 20
The constant and consistent elements of the rural diet were locally produced pulses and wild greens. On Mykonos, fat was provided mainly through home-produced lard, obtained from the pig reared by every rural household and by most urban households.21 On Syros, the availability of olive oil was similar to that on Mykonos. However, as there was significant local production of olive oil on Hios, this was much more widely available on Hios.22 Meat consumption, over and above the home-reared pig, was extremely low among rural peasant households and never purchased: ‘We would eat four animals in a year: at Christmas, at Easter, in May when we would thresh, throughout May, and in October [pig-slaughtering period].’23
Affluent rural households, or rural households with access to cash income (mostly through the urban-based work of a member), would also have a ready access to ‘luxury’ items sold in the town, such as olive oil, sugar, rice and salted cod. Those households with a member based in Athens or Piraeus would have access to similar items from the Athenian market: ‘He [the father] would bring [the goods] from there [town of Piraeus, where he was employed] … He would bring us sackfuls of sugar, rice, oil from there, petrol from there, flour from there, salted cod, potatoes that were not available here.’24
Milk was occasionally consumed by both urban and rural people. In the former case, the sheep or the goat would be transferred to town and the animal would be milked as and when a sale was arranged. Urban consumption on Mykonos did not differ markedly from that of the rural population, differing more in degree than in range; this was possibly attributable to the island's small size. Thus, urban households would consume meat, bought from butchers when available, but not often: ‘We would buy meat. Then there was not that much meat [available]. There were no refrigerators and they would not slaughter like nowadays. Pulses, pasta, everything [we had].’25
For the working-class urban residents, consumption somewhat mirrored that of the affluent urbanites.26 Fish was abundant in the town, where most fishermen lived, and it seems that the poorer sections of the population would eat fish two or three times a week. They would consume the very small, less-esteemed kinds of fish (whitebait, anchovy, etc), whereas the larger fish were consumed by the more affluent.27 Fresh vegetables for the urban dwellers would be provided by the peasants, who would transport their goods on donkeys.28 Wine was readily consumed by all classes, in significant quantities.29 What was not mentioned by the informants was bread. The paramount significance of bread in the Greek diet is well established.30 Up to 70 per cent of the nutritional intake of the country's peasants and workers was attributed to bread alone in the immediate pre-war period.31 It is possible that, because of the absolute centrality of bread, the question ‘What did you eat at your parental house?’ never prompted an answer that included bread. The price of bread was referred to on two occasions by male informants as a measure of comparison of their earnings, thus demonstrating its centrality in their lives:
A. I would leave in the morning and we would gather dried wood [fryana]. And I would take them to the bakery [to sell]. And I would get ten drachmas per bundle … and we would buy bread. Bread cost about eight drachmas then …
Q. So, were you buying the bread? Didn't your mother bake it?
A. We did make it, but we would also buy it from the bakery whenever we did not have bread [when the household supplies of flour run out].32
On Mykonos, the locally produced cereal was a mixture of barley and wheat (migadi) which was used for the home-baked bread.33 Similarly, wholemeal bread and homemade pasta (trahanas) were consumed throughout rural Greece.34 White bread was a delicacy that would occasionally be sent by relatives residing in Athens to those on Mykonos via private postmen.35 White bread was consumed only on rare occasions by the urban working class of Syros and only as a treat.36 This section of the population, most of whom were factory employees in the town of Hermoupolis, had a fairly restricted diet. Although this ideally included the once-weekly meat, plus pulses, potatoes and greens, some would, at least sometimes, make do with much less: ‘Those who were poorer, those who did not have money, did this. They would add a little bit of oil in a big pot and then if they had stale bits of bread, two or three days old, would throw them in and they boiled it and they would say “We will eat panada tonight”.’37 Moreover, buying food on credit from the pedlar was a part of daily life for most members of the working-class community.38 Nevertheless, at least some households would rear a pig every year and would also consume small fish, although less often than the Mykonos urbanites.39 The oral evidence from the town of Ano Syros places this population, in nutritional terms, between rural and urban populations and appears to refute what was declared, in contemporary publications, to be the diet of urbanites in the 1930s. This, it was believed, did not include any pulses because these groups were aiming to emulate the consumption patterns of the affluent urbanites – which involved consuming more meat and no pulses.40 It seems that they simply could not afford to do so.
Despite this point of divergence, oral accounts relating to food consumption in the period before the Second World War are mostly in agreement with what is known from written sources, the rural pattern of consumption being, in essence, what has been termed the Mediterranean diet.41 Moreover, the differences found between urban and rural consumption through the oral evidence are corroborated in the written sources.42 On the other hand, the interviews highlight the extensive use of lard (rather than olive oil) by peasant and working-class households, in areas such as Mykonos and Syros where olive trees were not grown. Olive oil was imported in those areas, but was an expensive commodity that the working classes and peasants could not easily afford.43 Another aspect that was mentioned repeatedly by the informants was the use of wild greens (agria horta, horta tou vounou). These were central in the diets of rural populations, especially at the seasons of relatively low food availability.44 The varieties of wild greens differed from place to place, according to the local vegetation, and were (and still are) foodstuffs highly valued throughout Greece.45 They are usually available, depending on rainfall, from late autumn until late spring.46 I observed the availability and collection of local wild greens on Mykonos during my fieldwork there in the winter of 1989, and saw that these not only were consumed in private households but also were served in the local tavernas.
The paramount importance of wild greens in the population's diet during the winter and spring months is a point rarely emphasized in pre-1940 publications on nutritional studies in Greece, although their consumption is always mentioned.47 This reflects, more than anything else, the class divide between the peasants and the academics who studied their consumption. So, for example, in the 1930s, Pericles Kalogerou collected household consumption sheets for various parts of Greece. In most cases (although depending on the season that the particular household was observed), greens – wild or cultivated – appear to be the second most significant source of food in weight, always after bread. Even when all the collected data are taken into account, the consumption of greens in terms of weight consumed comes second to that of bread, with 5 kg of greens being consumed, on average, per person per month, as opposed to 20 kg of bread.48 Nevertheless, greens are never pinpointed by Kalogerou as a significant factor in the diet of the rural population. This is also reflected in the contemporary recipe books, where there are no recipes utilising wild greens and only a handful utilising cultivated varieties.49 Only exceptionally do contemporary authors report the extensive use of greens, especially of wild species, by the rural population, noting the contempt of the upper and middle classes for the ‘cheap way of consumption by the folk’.50 Not only did the upper classes consider that the peasants' food was of a very poor quality and that the rural population was in need of enlightenment, but the latter folk were also ridiculed, for example, for their consumption of nettles.51
How did food consumption change during the crisis and famine years? The food most wanted and most missed was, clearly, bread. Considering its centrality in the Greek diet, its absence was always the first to be mentioned by the informants and it was used to ‘illustrate’ the severity of the famine: ‘We survived, we went hungry. I did not eat bread for five to six months.’52 Not only was this the first food to disappear from the market but it also remained the most sought-after and dreamed-of food for the duration of the crisis: ‘And the bread! A relative who had land would bring us some double [size] bread and we thought he was giving us the whole world! Bread!’53
Alternative forms of ‘bread’ were devised as a response to what was available. Thus, home-baked bread made from cornflour, cooked in a frying pan (bobota), was one alternative.54 By mid-July 1941, corn (maize) had already started to be used on Hios ‘for the first time on our island as food for humans’, and corn-based cake recipes were featured in the local newspaper catering for the more affluent, but also in line with the predominance of corn among the rationed foodstuffs.55
One of the recognised signs of an approaching famine is the fact that people deliberately reduce their consumption of normal foods while concurrently diverting from the foods normally consumed to foods of inferior (for the specific society) status.56 This usually occurs even before the ‘normal’ foods become unavailable (if they ever do), in an attempt to economise and to prolong their availability for as long as possible. This certainly happened in Greece: ‘[Upon the start of the occupation] every man hid his produce. And all people lived conservatively … with little food, with little bread, with one little piece of bread.’57
Pulses became the next most sought-after foodstuffs. These were now consumed by those who produced them and by those who could afford to purchase them in the black market – namely, the middle and upper classes. The adaptability of pulses as food, their ease of storing for significant periods (which made them ideal for hoarding) and their relative availability made them desirable to all sections of society.58 For the poorer members, pulses would always be cooked in a soup where everything available would be added: ‘She [the mother] would grind the chickpeas and make them into a soup because there were only few chickpeas; we couldn't all satisfy our hunger with chickpeas.’59
For the slightly more affluent producers, pulses would occasionally be consumed whole: ‘Every Sunday they would give us, I remember, Italian chickpeas, big ones [as part of relief]. Big chickpeas and we would cook them on Sunday as meat [as a luxurious Sunday meal].’60
Wild game had been a potential food source, but the confiscation of all guns by the occupying forces throughout Greece meant that this possibility was virtually eliminated. Nevertheless, on Hios, hunting was an occasional option, whenever the German governor turned a blind eye.61 When the specific [German] governor changed, using guns and thus hunting were not possible. Fishing was also severely restricted, at least initially. Beyond the initial restrictive stage, actual practices differed markedly from place to place, depending, mostly, on the local occupying force and its ‘governor’. So, on Hios permission for fishing was given for most of the occupation period (although this was revoked on many occasions). This meant that, on Hios, fish was usually available and, once the ‘wealthy’ had been provisioned through their long-term arrangements with the fishermen, the left-overs would be distributed to the population.62 Wealth still determined who were the consumers of the large and who of the small fish, with the ‘well-off’ peasants being added to the usual pool of consumers of large fish for the first time during the years of occupation.63 Fish was virtually impossible to procure on Syros because of the strict rules imposed by the Italian occupying forces and because of the high level of requisitioning implemented by them.64 It was somewhat easier to find fish on Mykonos, where illegal fishing was taking place.
The most widely used foodstuff throughout Greece during the crisis was greens, including wild ones. During the crisis their consumption was considerably augmented, because they were either free to gather or the cheapest food available.65 Another reason for their popularity was their availability during the low-productivity period, November to April, which was also the time of the highest famine mortality, especially in 1941–2.
‘The poor … They were eating [the green parts of] wild daisies, and you know, those vegetables from the mountains, black mustard and others. In the beginning they were getting black mustard, radishes, that sort of thing, from the mountains. They got them the first year. The second year? The third year? What? There were no seeds and there were no greens. So, what did they do? They turned to wild daisies, thistles, nettles … They boiled them to eat them. But shouldn't you add some oil? Where could you get oil?’66
‘Do you know how many children I saved with the sour milk (ksynogala)? They would drink sour milk and clear their kidneys from the greens they were eating, all the time greens. They would eat greens all the time.’67
‘Some were in a lot of misery and they were trying to get by with wild greens all the time. They would go here and there in the fields and would gather … wild greens, but for most, thankfully there was olive oil that year and they would eat, they would eat the greens with plenty of oil even though they did not have bread.’68
‘When it was the season for greens or snails, all the people were up in the mountains and the villages and the fields collecting them or [collecting] mushrooms, and some mushrooms were poisonous and we even had some deaths.’69
The responses exemplify the very high importance of wild greens during the famine, along with the centrality of oil in their consumption. The availability of olive oil depended almost exclusively on whether this was locally produced. Because of the severe restrictions imposed on the movement of food, places that usually produced oil had an abundance of the product, because no exports were allowed. That, of course, did not mean that all had access to the product, even within oil-producing localities.70 Cultivated greens were also very popular. Common and widely consumed – in normal times – vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers and aubergines became luxury items, but the more hardy cabbage and especially collards were the vegetables commonly purchased from the farmers.71 The latter are very hardy and flourish in the winter. References to their use come from around Greece, including Athens. Nevertheless, some nutritional experts were discouraging the population from consuming greens during the famine, because ‘there is little nutritional value’ in them. They recommended instead the use of highly nutritious dried nuts, as if these were available!72
As normal foods rapidly became scarce, whatever remained available was utilised more extensively and in innovative ways. Some ingenious ‘dishes’ were invented, making use of all possible available materials. For example, in the slaughterhouse the blood of the animals would be collected by the poor and made into ‘burgers’, either with nettles or with cotton cake: ‘With that blood the woman would prepare vegetable burgers and you understand how awful these were, but they were filling and harmless, of course. But they had no taste.’73 In another case, almonds were ground and added to milk.74 The seasonal availability of oranges – and their exceptional abundance during the occupation period on Hios due to the restrictions on exports – meant that ‘salads’ were made with oranges and olive oil, an unthinkable combination in normal times.75 Oranges seem to have also been widely available in Athens, where they were consumed even by the poorest sections of the population.76
When relief started, the main product distributed was wheat or, occasionally, flour. This was never made into bread but rather into soup: ‘They would put the wheat in the hand-mills or they would break it with some stone and then they would boil it in water (plegouri, kourpas).’77 This was the most common ‘dish’ of the occupation years, which could be enriched with whatever else was available on the day, from chickpeas to broad beans, from oil to potatoes.78 One reason why the wheat was not made into bread was not only the severe lack of fuel but also the restrictions imposed on the baking of bread by private individuals in cities and towns with more than a population of 20,000 or where a bread-rationing system was in operation.79
All the above-mentioned foodstuffs constituted ‘normal’ food, although not necessarily desired at all times and by all consumers. Other foods, less widely used prior to the famine, became of prime importance during the famine. One such example is carob seed pods, which in normal times were mostly used as fodder for animals.80 Nevertheless, some peasant families were using carobs even before the famine, for their own consumption.81 During the famine, carobs became the main sweetener used by all who could afford them, even the most affluent:82
‘In the evenings … we would make pancakes, with … honey, we did not always have honey, we had carobs and we would cut them, boil them, strain them … and we would get carob-honey, nice! Anything of course because …, was there any sugar to use? … honey then would not have been available, the war, who knows? … we couldn't get it.’83
This upper-class informant, while initially commenting appreciatively on the taste of carob-honey, was quick to justify its usage by indicating that, for her family to have used carob-honey, must have meant that sugar and honey were not available. Carobs were often distributed through relief for human consumption on Hios.84 Although these were occasionally mentioned by informants from Syros, and they did appear in the official lists of imported/exported goods into/out of the Cyclades, whether these were meant for human or animal consumption was never mentioned.85 In Athens, carob-flour was also on sale, as it was in Volos.86 Pulses, that were previously used as fodder, such as lupin seeds (loupina), were also readily incorporated into the Athenian and the Hian diet.87 Bitter vetch was consumed in Volos.88 Two more fodder foods, distributed through relief and consumed by humans, were millet and dari, the latter apparently being intensively cultivated in places during the occupation years because of its high yield.89 Another food that was usually fed to pigs – the acorn – was also used during the famine, although not on Hios.90 Much less appreciated foodstuffs were broom-corn (frokalosporos; sarothrosporos; skouposporos) and cotton cake/cotton-seed (vamvakopita/vamvakosporos), both distributed on Hios through relief, and both of which were normally used as fodder.91 None of these ‘foods’ are mentioned in any of the sources concerning either Syros or Mykonos. They were known to cause serious digestive problems, but were consumed nevertheless.92 Although these foods were distributed to the whole urban population, they were not necessarily consumed by all: ‘Broom-corn, they would distribute broom-corn as relief … We received it but we did not eat it, a family that were our friends/relatives and who were in need, we would give them the broom-corn, they wanted it. We, they would say, will grind it and we will add some barley or wheat.’93
At the individual level the accounts of the food consumed can vary remarkably. A youngster from Hermoupolis, aged about 15 years, would fight other boys for the empty meat tins discarded by the Italians. These tins would be boiled up by his mother and the fat that collected on the water surface would be skimmed off and used for cooking.94 On Hios, people who did not have access to olive oil would glean from the groves or the river banks those olives that had not been considered fit for consumption. These would be boiled in order to yield oil.95
For informants, most embarrassment was caused during the interviews by having to confess to consuming raw flour. One informant mentioned that he had done this, and his mother had also done so; however, she would leave the house and, presumably, get out of sight of her family while she ate raw flour, owing to her embarrassment about this consumption.96 Another, fairly affluent informant mentioned that his father consumed raw bran – which, he considered, had brought about his father's death.97 Cats, dogs and tortoises were also reported to have been consumed, as had been horses and donkeys.98 Among the interviewees, only one – a town dweller – admitted to having consumed, along with his family, a cat.99 The rest attributed the eating of cats and donkeys to the Italian soldiers.100 There are more references to the eating of such animals in the Athenian press and in published diaries.101 The most cited case was that of a man taken to court for selling dog meat. His defence was that, rather than selling the meat to the black market, he was consuming it, an explanation that led to his exoneration.102 Even nutritionists were recommending the eating of horses, emphasising that, in such difficult times, ‘there shouldn't be anyone today who feels averse to horse meat’.103 I believe that many more must have consumed such animals but chose not to admit this. There is not a single reference in any of the sources to cannibalism.
The existing sources are overwhelmingly silent on what those famished who actually died may have consumed. In only a handful of cases food poisoning is mentioned as a cause of death.104 Equally difficult to assess is whether the survivors chose to report only some foods and omitted – intentionally or unintentionally – others. Still, this seems rather unlikely since there is a good correspondence between the written and the oral evidence on what foods were available. Affluent and poor did refer to most of the foods ‘available’ during the famine whether they indicated that they themselves consumed these or that others did.
The evidence from Greece shows that the foodstuffs used during the famine were overwhelmingly familiar to the population, either from earlier human consumption or through their use as fodder food.105 In the former group, the most common were wild greens, including nettles, which were habitually consumed by the rural poor in normal times. The latter group included carobs, acorns, corn, lupins, bitter vetch (lathouri), millet and dari. Nevertheless, almost all of these foods were actually eaten by some poor people even in normal times, despite the fact that the majority of people were using them as animal food. Kalogerou, for example, cites the yield of various crops produced in Greece in 1927–9, the imported amounts and the amounts consumed by humans in the same years. According to that source, 24 per cent of barley, 5 per cent of lupins, 33 per cent of bitter vetch and 11 per cent of corn were consumed by humans.106 What constitutes a fodder food seems to be a ‘relative value’, strongly associated with food perceptions and status: ‘We … had the fields with barley … do people eat barley? They do not; pardon me, the animals eat it … the second year, I had a sister … and that sister gave me 50 oke wheat and I cultivated the fields and I looked after them and I made one ton.’107 This was a well-off peasant family and their affluence was demonstrated during the famine with their luxurious (for that time) food consumption. Referring to barley as ‘fodder’ and in a derogative manner, although it is clear that its use was very widespread among peasants at the time, illustrates the point of the contemporaneous co-existence of significantly varied class-specific values attached to the same foods. Thus, fodder foods were never exclusively that, and people were familiar with their use as human food, readily utilising them when necessary. The difference between human and fodder foods is primarily one of increasing affluence over time, which designated some foods as fit for animals rather than for humans. It seems that the Greek famine obliged all, or virtually all, people to slide down the ladder of preferred food. Thus, the poor descended from pulses to fodder, whereas the more affluent descended from meat, white bread and cultivated greens to pulses and ‘inferior’ greens.108
Another significant change in food consumption concerned the mode of preparation rather than the ingredients. Soup, into which all available food was thrown in small quantities, appeared to have been almost the one-and-only dish, certainly among the poor. Wheat/barley bread (or, rather, its absence) was the food most frequently referred to in the interviews. The corn-based bread substitute (bobota) and the ‘soup’ made from cracked wheat (plegouri) are the two most-remembered ‘famine foods’. The two words, bobota and plegouri, provoke revulsion in Greeks today, even among young people who may not be fully aware of the actual meaning of these words. Although at least one of the ingredients was very familiar, it was its method of preparation – boiling the cracked wheat into a pulp – that provoked distaste. Corn-based bread was consumed by some Greek populations in normal times, though it is not clear whether the mode of preparation differed. The cultural unacceptability and rejection of foods were demonstrated on another occasion with the distribution to the population of powdered soup. The distribution was made by the Joint Relief Committee, comprising Swedish and Swiss delegates. Most of the population rapidly off-loaded this soup on the black market, because ‘people preferred the wild greens and the pulses, leaving the dieticians to be preoccupied with the lofty issues of calories and vitamins’.109
The fact that the foodstuffs consumed during the famine were all familiar to the population is certainly not unique to Greece. There are abundant examples, ranging from the seventeenth/eighteenth-century Scottish highlands to continental Europe, from late nineteenth-century India to twentieth-century Africa.110 For India, David Arnold indicates that some famine foods were familiar and consumed in normal times but some were taboo for some groups but consumed, in normal times, by ‘untouchables’ or tribal communities.111 Other authors mention the habitual consumption of bark in normal times among the inhabitants of the Rajasthan Desert, that of acorn among many Indian tribes while others indicate the hunting and consumption of rodents in normal times in parts of Northern India.112 For Africa, for example, F. R. Irvine discusses a long list of ‘unusual’ foods such as roots of water lilies, wild orchid roots, bark, gums and many other that were habitually consumed by some groups in normal times.113 In similar lines, Muller and Almedom's work on contemporary Niger concluded that ‘famine foods’ were a subset of ‘traditional vegetables’ which constituted ‘a vibrant part of the local cuisine’.114 Thus, yet again, ‘famine foods’ constituted familiar foods used by the population in normal times.
This article has examined the question of what people actually eat in famines, using as a case study the Greek famine of the early 1940s. This revealed that rather than people consuming unfamiliar ‘famine foods’ during the famine, they consumed foods that were familiar to the specific society. Nevertheless, a shift had taken place whereby almost all moved from more desirable – for their class – to less desirable – again for their class – foods. Though an exhaustive survey of all published works referring to famine foods has not taken place here, it seems clear that the Greek population was not unique in consuming only familiar foods, even if these were familiar only to some, even if the food was prepared in less familiar ways. Such a conclusion brings into question the concept of ‘famine foods’, a concept that was not necessarily conceived by the famished but, in all probability, by observers and/or outsiders.115
I am very grateful to all my informants and to those who brought me in touch with them. I am particularly indebted to Voula Skaya, who 20 years after I first met her on my fieldwork on Mykonos continues to offer her extensive local knowledge. I would like to express special thanks to Professor Cormac Ó Gráda who read and commented on a draft of the paper. Research for this paper was partly funded by a Wellcome Trust for the History of Medicine post-doctoral fellowship, without which the preparation of this paper would not have been possible (no. 056211).
2 For numerous references referring to ‘famine foods’, see footnote 26 in Dirks, R., ‘Social responses during severe food shortages and famine’, Current Anthropology 21, 1 (1980), 21–44 [OpenURL Query Data] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]. In defining famine foods, a database of such foods indicates that these are ‘edible plants not normally considered as crops but historically consumed in times of famine’, available at http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/faminefoods/ff_home.html (accessed 4 June 2008). See also K. Hitchcock, J. I. Ebert and R. G. Morgan, ‘Drought, drought relief and dependency among the Basarwa of the Botswana’, in R. Huss-Ashmore and S. H. Katz eds., African food systems in crisis. Part one: microperspectives (New York, 1989), 303–36; Joachim von Braun, Tesfaye Teklu and Patrick Webb, Famine in Africa. Causes, responses, and prevention (Baltimore, 1999), 14, 94, 116; Megan Vaughan refers to the use of wild foods ‘of which there seems to have been a communal knowledge’. These included, among others, wild fruits, wild yam, various types of grass, wild beans, bamboo roots and banana roots (Vaughan, Megan, ‘Famine analysis and family relations: 1949 in Nyasaland’, Past and Present 108 (1985), 177–205 [OpenURL Query Data] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar], specifically 187). Some authors claim that ‘People will routinely eat carrion and decaying corpses’ (Speakman, J. R., ‘Thrifty genes for obesity, an attractive but flawed idea, and an alternative perspective: the “drifty gene” hypothesis’, International Journal of Obesity 32, 11 (2008), 1611–7 [OpenURL Query Data] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar], specifically 1613).
3 Yves Guinand and Dechassa Lemessa, ‘Wild food plants in Ethiopia’, available at http://www.africa.upenn.edu/faminefood/index.htm (accessed 6 November 2008), 1. For the difficulty in defining ‘famine foods’ and the variety of definitions, see Irvine, F. R., ‘Supplementary and emergency food plants of West Africa’, Economic Botany 6 (1952), 23–5 [OpenURL Query Data] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]; and Frances M. A. Harris and Mohammed, Salisu, ‘Relying on nature: wild foods in Northern Nigeria’, AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment 32 (2003), 26 [OpenURL Query Data] [Google Scholar]; Omar M. Salih, Nour, Abdelazim M. and Harper, David B., ‘Chemical and nutritional composition of two famine food sources used in Sudan, Mukheit (Boscia senegalensis) and Maikah (Dobera roxburghi)’, Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 57 (1991), 367–77 [OpenURL Query Data] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]. In most historical works a definition of famine foods is not provided.
5 Jocelyn Muller and Almedom, Astier M., ‘What is “famine food”? Distinguishing between traditional vegetables and special foods for times of hunger/scarcity (Boumba, Niger)’, Human Ecology 36 (2008), 599–607 [OpenURL Query Data] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]. Muller and Almedon use the term ‘traditional vegetables’ and ‘wild plants’ interchangeably.
6 A notable exception is the chapter by Antonia-Leda Matalas, ‘The Mediterranean diet: historical background and dietary patterns in pre-World War II Greece’, in Antonia-Leda Matalas, Antonis Zampelas, Vassilis Stavrinos and Ira Wolinsky eds., The Mediterranean Diet: constituents and health promotion (Boca Raton, 2001), 35–40.
7 Violetta Hionidou, Famine and death in occupied Greece, 1941–1944 (Cambridge, 2006), 159–60.
8 Ibid., 32–107.
9 Ibid., 220–34.
10 Ibid., 190–219.
11 On Hios there were nine female and seven male informants as well as six couples. On Syros the corresponding figures were five, thirteen and four. In one case on Syros the interview included two adult males (cousins).
12 For a full list of the Mykonos informants and their characteristics, see appendix in V. Hionidou, ‘Marriage, inheritance and household formation on a Greek island, Mykonos (mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century)’, in Anne-Lise Head-König, Péter Pozsgai and Jürgen Schlumbohm eds., Inheritance practices, marriage strategies and household formation in European rural societies (Turnhout: Brepols, forthcoming), Rural History in Europe, no. 12.
13 Pericles Kalogerou, Palaia kai sughrona provlemata tes diatrofes tes upaithrou (Thessalonike, 1950), 10.
14 Ioakeimoglou 138; Stathopoulos 138; Dontas 138; Dontas and Ioakeimoglou 56. All cited in Demosthenes Eleutheriades, E laike diatrofe en polemo kai en anagke (Athens, 1952); Ioakeimoglou 85 cited in Demosthenes Eleutheriades, Epimaha zetemata diatrofes (Athens, 1939). Also, Alivisatos, G. P. and Joustinianos, A., ‘Nutrition in rural districts in Greece’, Bulletin of the Health Organization of the League of Nations 12 (1945), 411 [OpenURL Query Data] [Google Scholar] and 435.
15 Eleutheriades, E laike, 51; Anna Katsigra, Ellenika proionta kai ellenikos tropos diatrofes (Athens, 1940).
16 Much more has been written on the subject by archaeologists and ancient historians, who have used ethnographic approaches to their subject, providing some excellent accounts of consumption among ancient Greek populations. These include, among others, Thomas Gallant, Risk and survival in ancient Greece (Stanford, 1991) and Peter Garnsey, Food and society in classical antiquity (Cambridge, 1999).
17 Katsigra, Ellenika proionta, 125, 133, 147.
18 On middle-class perceptions of the mid-Victorian working-class diet and on the omission of reporting the consumption of significant quantities of cheap foods by the working-class respondents, see Clayton, Paul and Rowbotham, Judith, ‘An unsuitable and degraded diet? Part one: public health lessons from the mid-Victorian working class diet’, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 101 (2008), 101 [OpenURL Query Data] [Google Scholar], 284, 286. Clayton and Rowbotham attribute the omissions to the cheapness of these foods.
19 Kalogerou, Palaia, 10.
20 Interview number (hereafter No. or no.) 16, Mykonos, female, lived in rural Mykonos throughout her life.
21 No. 3, Mykonos, rural upbringing, female. For an almost identical description of the peasant diet in classical Greece, see Garnsey, Food, 15–17.
22 For example, in 1939–40 the olive oil production was 1,293,000 oke whereas the annual needs of the local population were estimated at 700,000 oke (Paghiake, 26 July 1941, 3481). In a ‘bad’ year the production of oil could be as low as 500,000 oke (Paghiake, 27 September 1941, 3489).
23 No. 3, Mykonos. On the pig-slaughtering feast in contemporary Mykonos, see Dimitris Rousounelos, Tastes of sacrifice: the pigfeast on Mykonos (Athens, 2004).
24 No. 22, Mykonos, female, lived in rural Mykonos throughout her life; similar answers from no. 7, rural Mykonos, male, and no. 15, female, rural Mykonos upbringing.
25 No. 5, Mykonos, female, upper class, urban; similar answer from no. 18, Mykonos, female, middle class; no. 25, Mykonos, upper class.
26 No. 24, Mykonos, female, town resident, father was an artisan; husband was a sailor.
27 For an identical sharing of the small fish–big fish between lower- and upper-class citizens in classical Greece, see Garnsey, Food, 116–7.
28 No. 25, Mykonos, urban affluent; no. 23, Mykonos.
29 Pericles Kalogerou, E en Elladi diatrofe upo to prisma tes antikeimenikes ereunes. Diatrofe agroton (Athens, 1940).
30 Kalogerou, Palaia, 10.
31 Eleutheriades, E laike, 93.
32 No. 11, Mykonos, male, rural resident; similar answer from no. 7, Mykonos, male, rural resident.
33 The mixing of the two kinds of seeds, it was believed, offered a crop of significantly higher yield than either barley or wheat would offer on their own (no. 11, Mykonos). This mix was also extensively planted on Hios during the years of occupation, presumably for its high yield (Paghiake, 16 January 1942, 3503; P. Karouses, Mnemes apo ten Katohe sten Hio (Athens, 1985), 37). See also Robert Sallares, The ecology of the ancient Greek world (London, 1991), 305; Gallant, Risk, 41.
34 No. 2, Hios; Katsigra, Ellenika proionta, 133; Eleutheriades, E laike, 8–10. The flour used had an extraction rate of 95–98 per cent (Alivisatos and Joustinianos, Nutrition, 435).
35 Fruit, sugar, and salted cod were other Athenian delicacies brought to Mykonos (no. 23).
36 No. 9, Syros.
37 No. 2, Syros.
38 No. 2, Syros.
39 No. 9, Syros. The practice of rearing a pig was widespread in Greece and continued after the post-war period (Irwin T. Sanders, Rainbow in the Rock. The people of rural Greece (Cambridge, 1962), 143).
40 Pericles Kalogerou, Metapolemika provlemata diatrofes tou Ellenikou laou (Athens, 1944), 58–9; Eleutheriades, E laike, 8.
41 Antonia-Leda Matalas, ‘The Mediterranean diet: historical background and dietary patterns in pre-World War II Greece’, in Antonia-Leda Matalas, Antonis Zampelas, Vassilis Stavrinos and Ira Wolinsky eds., The Mediterranean Diet: constituents and health promotion (Boca Raton, 2001), 35–40; and Marion Nestle, ‘The history and culture of food and drink in Europe. The Mediterranean (diets and disease prevention)’, in Kenneth F. Kiple and Kriemhild Conex Ornelas eds., The Cambridge World History of Food (Cambridge, 2000), 1196.
42 Matalas, ‘The Mediterranean Diet’, 40–3; Alivisatos and Joustinianos, Nutrition.
43 The low consumption of olive oil by the rural populations compared with the urban populations, especially in nineteenth-century Greece, is noted by Matalas, ‘The Mediterranean diet’, 43.
44 Matalas cites a number of sources indicating that this was the case through the nineteenth and the early twentieth century (‘The Mediterranean Diet’, 37). Alivisatos and Joustinianos, Nutrition, 446–7.
46 M. Leonti, S. Nebel, Rivera, D. and Heinrich, M., ‘Wild gathered food plants in the European Mediterranean: a comparative analysis’, Economic Botany 60 (2006), 134 [OpenURL Query Data] [Google Scholar].
47 With the great importance attributed to the Mediterranean diet, in recent years numerous studies have attempted to assess the nutritional value of wild greens. See, among others, A. Trichopoulou, E. Vasilopoulou, P. Hollman, Ch. Chamalides, E. Foufa, Tr. Kaloudis, D. Kromhout, Ph. Miskaki, I. Petrochilou, E. Poulima, Stafilakis, K. and Theophilou, D., ‘Nutritional composition and flavonoid content of edible wild greens and green pies: a potential rich source of antioxidant nutrients in the Mediterranean diet’, Food Chemistry 70 (2000), 319–23 [OpenURL Query Data] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]; C. I. Vardanas, D. Majchrzac, K.-H. Wagner, Elmadfa, I. and Kafatos, A., ‘The antioxidant and phylloquinone content of wildly grown greens in Crete’, Food Chemistry 99 (2006), 813–21 [OpenURL Query Data] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]; C. I. Vardanas, D. Majchrzac, K.-H. Wagner, Elmadfa, I. and Kafatos, A., ‘Lipid concentrations of wild edible greens in Crete’, Food Chemistry 99 (2006), 822–34 [OpenURL Query Data] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar].
48 Kalogerou, E en Elladi, 220.
49 Mursine Lamprake, Ta horta (Athens, 1997), 19.
50 Katsigra, Ellenika proionta, 111, 119, 147, 156. The author was a medical doctor but not an academic. Another exception is Alivisatos and Joustinianos, Nutrition, 446–7.
51 Katsigra, Ellenika proionta, 111. For a similar statement concerning the Indian poor, see George Gammie, Alexander, ‘A note on plants used for food during famines and seasons of scarcity in the Bombay Presidency’, India Botanical Survey Records 2 (1902), 172 [OpenURL Query Data] [Google Scholar].
52 No. 3, Hios, male, lived in rural Hios throughout his life.
53 No. 8, Hios. For a similar reaction of an informant remembering the first time bread was baked at her parental home after the end of the Second World War, see David E. Sutton, Remembrance of Repasts. An anthropology of food and memory (Oxford, 2001), 98.
54 No. 11, Hios. Corn-based bread was regularly consumed in parts of Greece where maize was the most significant locally produced crop.
55 Proodos, 14 July 1941, 3708; 8 August 1941, 3728; 9 August 1941, 3729; 18 August 1941, 3835.
56 Arnold, David, ‘Social crisis and epidemic disease in the famines of nineteenth-century India’, Social History of Medicine 6 (1993), 389 [OpenURL Query Data] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]; Dirks, ‘Social responses’, 23–8.
57 No. 3, Hios.
58 Ioanna Tsatsou, Fulla Katohes (Athens, 1987); Kalogerou, Metapolemika, 59.
59 No. 1, Hios; similar no. 3, Syros. In normal times in Greece, chickpeas are cooked in a stew rather than in a soup. A soup made of ‘water and some kind of greens’ was the only food consumed for three months by the family of the French Consul on Syros Marin Rigouzzo (Ministère des Affaires Etrangères, Archives Diplomatiques, Nantes, Rigouzzo's diary, 20, September 1941).
60 No. 22, Syros.
61 No. 19, Hios.
62 Hionidou, Famine and death, 84–5.
63 No. 13, Hios.
64 Hionidou, Famine and death, 86–7.
65 Eleutheriades, E laike, 121; Pericles Kalogerou, ‘Tis e ektasis kai tina ta apotelesmata tou epikratountos upo tas parousas sunthekas upositismou’, Praktika Iatrikes Etaireias Athenon 28/3/1942, 215; Karouses, Mnemes, 40–1; Nitsa Koliou, Agnostes ptuhes katohes kai antistases 1941–44 (Volos, 1985), 53. Wild artichokes, capers and the water where greens were boiled were also consumed (all were consumed in non-famine times too). Various other wild greens were mentioned in the sources, for most of which I do not have a translation: skouloumpra, galatsida, karuda, poluvuzouda, kaukalethra (tordylium apulum) and melisies. All were and, to the best of my knowledge, are still consumed. Wild wheat was also mentioned (Proodos, 2 April 1942, 3834; 12 December 1942, 3932).
66 No. 7, Syros; similar responses from no. 6 and no. 22, Syros. All these wild greens are habitually consumed in normal times. Another commentator from Syros mentions that there were no wild greens available in autumn 1943 because of the lack of rain (Rigouzzo's diary, 54).
67 No. 16, Mykonos. Also see no. 3, Mykonos and Rigouzzo's diary, March 1944, 62.
68 Male born 1912, no. 73, Ionian island of Lefkada (Maria Thanopoulou, E proforike mneme tou polemou. Diereunese tes sullogikes mnemes tou B Pagkosmiou polemou stous epizontes enos horiou tes Lefkadas (Athens, 2000), 218).
69 No. 11, Hios; similar comments on the collection of snails and greens in Karouses, Mnemes, 41; no. 1, no. 6, no. 16, no. 18 Hios.
70 See, for example, the case of the island of Lesvos (Hionidou, Famine and death, 104–6).
71 Karouses, Mnemes, 40; no. 18, Hios; Proodos, 8 July 1941, 3708; no. 2, no. 10, Syros. It seems that collards were used as fodder food too.
72 Georgios Logaras, Mporoume na trafoume kalutera? (Athens, 1942), 8.
73 No. 11, Hios. Sayce refers to a similar practice taking place in 1817 in Tyrone, Ireland (R. Sayce, U., ‘Need years and need foods’, Montgomeryshire Collections 53 (1954), 66–7 [OpenURL Query Data] [Google Scholar]).
74 No. 6, Hios.
75 No. 18, Hios.
76 Kalogerou, ‘Tis e ektasis’, 215.
77 No. 11, no. 14, Hios; no. 22, Syros.
78 No. 4, Hios.
79 Proodos, 27 November 1941, 3782; 18 April 1942, 3840; 14 July 1941, 3708. Obtaining wood was as difficult as obtaining food during the occupation in Greece, with the goods being sold in the black market and trees being cut without impunity. The environmental impact was immense, although not yet studied (Koliou, Agnostes ptuhes, 91; Hrestos Hrestides, Hronia katohes, 1941–1944. Marturies emerologiou (Athens, 1971), 102–3; Maria Manolakou, Apo to emerologio enos paidiou tes katohes (Athens, 1985), 176).
80 Kalogerou, Metapolemika, 66.
81 No. 2, Hios; Lamprake, Ta horta, 32. Lambrake mentions that shepherds, peasants and children consumed these in normal times while in the fields.
82 No. 7, no. 22 Syros; no. 11, no. 14, no. 16, Hios; Georgios Theotokas, Tetradia emerologiou (1939–53) (Athens, 1982); Eleutheriades, E laike, 122; Lamprake, Ta horta, 260; Dem. Gatopoulos, Istoria tes Katohes, 2nd ed. (Athens, n.d.), 188–9.
83 No. 16, Hios, female.
84 Proodos, 23 July 1942, 3874; 1 September 1942, 3889.
85 No. 22, Syros; Kuklades, 14 January 1942, 4; General State Archives on Syros, Italian Archive, folder 69, 15172, Al Comando Superiore delle Forze Armate dell'Egeo, Ufficio servizi, 1 October 1941.
86 Kairofyllas, E Athena, 189; Koliou, Agnostes ptuhes, 74, citing a diary of a nurse at the hospital of Volos, 15 September 1943.
87 Kalogerou, Metapolemika, 60–2; Stulianos Stafuleras, Ta Thumiana ston polemo kai ten Germanike Katohe (Hios, 1979), 16; Giannis Kairofullas, E Athena tou '40 kai tes Katohes (Athens of the 1940s and the occupation) (Athens, 1985), 175.
88 Koliou, Agnostes ptuhes, 53.
89 Proodos, 2 April 1942, 3834; 28 April 3843; 28 July 1942, 3876. Both foods are mentioned as being purchased for human consumption in November 1941 at the Hian village of Kallimasia (Koraes Library, diary of teacher Georgios Kokkodis, entry 24 November 1941); Stafuleras, Ta Thumiana, 17; Mihael Theotokas archive, Koraes library, Hios (hereafter MTA), folder 7, ‘Distributions to the population in July 1942’; Demosthenes Eleutheriades, H laike, 122.
90 Eleutheriades, E laike, 121; Stafuleras, Ta Thumiana, 17. Acorns were not used on Hios during the famine because they were neither produced on, nor imported into Hios in normal times (MTA, folder 7, ‘Production on Hios in 1940–41’). Using specific crops for either human or animal consumption is a well-established strategy among populations aiming to avert risk (Gallant, Risk, 58 citing Subrata Ghatak and Ken Ingersent, Agriculture and economic development (Baltimore, 1984), 6).
91 Proodos, 18 December 1941, 3792; 2 April 1942, 3834; 28 July 1942, 3876; 1 September 1942, 3889; 4 November 1942, 3915; 19 December 1942, 3932. Cottonseed was habitually imported by Hios during normal times, as was dari (MTA, folder 7).
92 No. 8, no. 9, no. 11, no. 16, Hios.
93 No. 16, Hios.
94 No. 13, Syros.
95 No. 18, no. 19, Hios. One of the informants used the word koumara to describe the spoilt olives. However, the word seems to also refer to the arbutus berry.
96 No. 3, Syros.
97 No. 6, Syros.
98 The reference to the consumption of tortoises comes exclusively from Antonia-Leda Matalas and Louis E. Grivetti, ‘Non-food food during famine. The Athens famine survivor project’, in Jeremy MacClancy, Jeya Henry and Helen Macbeth eds., Consuming the inedible: neglected dimensions of food choice (New York, 2007), 136.
99 No. 9, Syros. Another informant made the general comment that ‘we ate horses, donkeys, mules’ (no. 21, Syros).
100 No. 2, Syros; Rigouzzo's diary, 21.
101 Georgios Maroudes, To emerologio tes peinas (Athens, 1976), 27, referring to Athens in November 1941.
102 Logaras, Mporoume, 18.
103 Ibid., 16.
104 There are two cases of death from food poisoning registered on Mykonos, two in Hios towns and eight on Syros in the years 1941–4. This compares with only two deaths from poisoning in the period 1938–9 on Syros and no deaths either on Mykonos or in Hios towns (civil registration death certificates, available in the local municipal offices). Interestingly, in the patients' hospital register of Syros eight admissions due to food poisoning are mentioned for the 1941–4 period with two corresponding deaths. For three patients it is indicated that it was ‘boiled greens’ that were responsible for the poisoning while for three others it was the consumption of decayed food (18 Nosokomeio, Metroo noseleuomenon asthenon Pathologikou, 1935–1955; 36 and 41 Nosokomeio, Metroo noseleuomenon asthenon, 1.1.1941–30.8.1945 and 29.8.1945–31.12.1953, General State Archives, Syros).
105 For a sharply opposing interpretation of consumption during the Greek famine, see Matalas and Grivetti, where what was consumed in Athens during the famine is termed ‘non-food’ (‘Non-food food’, 131–9).
106 Kalogerou, Metapolemika, 8.
107 No. 13, Hios.
108 Clearly depicted in the consumption patterns of the four Athenian groups as described by Kalogerou (‘Tis e ektasis’, 215–8). Also, for the changing patterns of consumption of the upper and middle classes during the famine, see Kalogerou, Metapolemika, 59.
109 Eleutheriades, E laike, 81.
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