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she will require, until at length, moving through the air at an immense speed, she will have attained almost the momentum of a projectile, and will have reefed her wings till she is exposing only a very small amount of surface.
The passengers in the saloon of such a perfected aircraft will experience neither vibration nor oscillation. Practically no sound will reach them from the smoothlyrunning engines in the fore-car. They should hear nothing, indeed, beyond the sound of the wind as it rushes past the hull. At great heights and at immense speeds, seeing often nothing either below or around them but banks of cloud, they will be borne across continents and oceans with a comfort unattainable by travel on land or sea. Distance, as we view it now, will cease to exist as a barrier for inter-communication. Men of affairs of the future, with world-wide interests to superintend, may find eventually that they can cross the Atlantic by air in twelve or fifteen hours; being enabled, thereby, to transact business one day say in New York and the next in London.
Vol. 229.- No. 454,
Art. 10-PUBLIC KITCHENS.
A FEW weeks ago a question was asked in Parliament as to what steps were being taken to ensure the provision, in populous centres, of kitchens formed and conducted under public authority for the sale at cost price of cooked food prepared in large quantities. In reply, it was announced that the Food Controller was calling the attention of Food Economy Committees to the great importance of such kitchens from the point of view of food and fuel economy; and the hope was expressed that this appeal, together with some degree of financial assistance where necessary, would effect a considerable increase in the number of public kitchens, of which 161 were already at work in various parts of the country. We may therefore assume that public kitchens are to become, under the active encouragement of the Ministry of Food, a salient feature of the national war economy; and the time is opportune for considering the principles that should govern their working and the conditions which limit their success. There are plenty of data on which to base a study of the subject. The kitchens referred to as already in operation in this country have been independently started, for the most part, by local authorities or groups, to serve particularly obvious and urgent local needs; and, as each has carried out its own scheme in its own way, a comparative survey brings out the factors that make for success or failure. Again, the Ministry of Food has for some months past had under direct control and close supervision a kitchen established to serve one of the most populous areas of South London; and much valuable experience has been gained therefrom.
There are, moreover, useful lessons to be learned from the experiences of other countries with regard to the public provision of cooked food at moderate prices; and we need have no diffidence in profiting, so far as may be, from those of Germany and Austria. Germany's food situation was, even two years ago, so difficult that the establishment of public kitchens on an extensive scale was deemed a necessity, and by this time last year there were in operation in Germany 2200 public kitchens, supplying 2,500,000 portions of cooked food daily; which
means that more than ten per cent. of the urban population of the German Empire were obtaining one meal a day from public kitchens. The organisation of this vast service has been carried out, as might be expected, with painstaking thoroughness; and, though there is much in the German methods to avoid, there is also much from which to derive instruction.
Let it be emphasised at once that the public kitchens now in question bear no relationship to the charity soupkitchens of the shameful past. Their object is not the relief of a class but the advantage of the community. The purpose in view is national economy and national well-being, the first to be secured by the elimination of waste, and the second by the provision of appetising and nutritious cooked meals at non-profit prices for all, without distinction of class or income, who may find it convenient or agreeable to buy food ready-cooked. It is essential, if these objects are to be attained on an extensive scale, that the use of the kitchens should not be regarded as in any way discreditable-that to patronise a municipal kitchen should be as ordinary a matter as, let us say, to travel on a municipal tram.
The case for the establishment of central kitchens at this particular juncture rests upon the economies to be effected in food, fuel, and services, and upon the provision they will make for all and sundry to obtain easily a satisfying cooked meal. That individual cooking, unless performed with knowledge, skill and care, results in the waste or misuse of food, requires no proof; and it will not be disputed that there are a great many homes at the present time in which the preparation of the principal meal of the day cannot be otherwise than wastefully done. Even were culinary skill an especial attribute of the British housewife, many wives and mothers are nowadays out on war and other work, and have neither time nor energy for proper cooking when they reach home; while the buying-in necessary to the preparation of a good round meal is becoming an ever more tedious and vexatious business. Hence the makeshift meal consisting largely of bread-the one form of ready-cooked food which can at present be everywhere conveniently bought, and, as it happens, the food in regard to which economies are especially desirable. Moreover, good cooking requires
proper appliances; and the lack of such appliances is responsible, more than anything else, for the deplorable cooking which, in so many homes of the poorer classes, restricts the menu to a narrow circle of generally expensive and wasteful foods.
Nor would the advantages of a ready recourse to the public kitchen stop here. The gas or coal required for the preparation of a thousand meals in a central kitchen is a mere fraction of what would be consumed in preparing the same meals in a thousand homes. Add to these considerations the means which an extensive system of public kitchens would afford of introducing to the public unfamiliar articles of food which may be temporarily plentiful, but which the average housewife could never be induced to buy (for in the matter of food we are nationally the slaves of habit); add further the facilities for the equitable distribution of food which, in the event of a real scarcity of foodstuffs, a network of public kitchens would afford; and the case for the public kitchens is stated.
It may reasonably be asked why, if the central kitchen is going to prove such a boon and a saving, the demand has not already created a sufficient supply, and why the starting of kitchens cannot even now be left to private enterprise. The answer lies in the distinction between a commercially profitable demand and a question of national advantage. In a time like the present, undertakings calculated to result in the saving of food, fuel and service cannot be left to the hazards of private enterprise, conditioned by the expectation of private gain. A kitchen which would not pay in the commercial sense might pay handsomely from the national standpoint. Until the standard of life in the more populous centres has been raised to a point at which the demand for ready-cooked meals of satisfactory quality becomes effective, the private cookshop is likely to concentrate, as at present, on a few popular but frequently wasteful and comparatively expensive foods, and to scorn economy without affording a satisfactory standard of nutriment. At the present time there is undoubtedly a demand for nutritious and economical ready-cooked meals which the existing cookshops do not gratify.
Yet, while the demand that has arisen shows that custom awaits the public kitchen in many districts, that factor must not be overrated. The public kitchens, if they are to succeed, must set themselves to attract customers by all the arts and devices that make for success in a commercial concern. They must, for example, be opened in the right neighbourhood, in attractive premises located in prominent positions; hole-and-corner kitchens in side streets will not be redeemed from failure by virtue of their public status. They will have to offer such value for money as to compete effectively with the privately cooked meal. They will have to study the tastes and prejudices of their patrons, introducing unfamiliar dishes gradually. And, over and above all that, they will have to make the most of their particular and exclusive advantages as public institutions, forming part of a great public system and enjoying the support of the central food authorities. If they are to make good, they will need every advantage to be gained from centralised buying at wholesale prices; they will need every help in the shape of information, instruction, and advice that can be given; and they will need all such 'goodwill' as may attach to their public character.
In considering the needs of any locality, and the best means of providing for them, it should be borne in mind that public kitchens may be organised in two ways: as self-contained units, or as component parts of a linked system, consisting of a central cooking kitchen serving a surrounding network of selling stations to which the cooked food is sent by van or motor. This arrangement, where it can be carried out, offers certain advantages. It reduces the capital expenditure on appliances, it simplifies the purchase of materials, it puts the technical part of the work under one roof where it can be supervised by a highly qualified superintendent; it lends itself to the pooling of fluctuating local demands; and it allows of a number of selling stations being opened larger than would be economical were every kitchen a self-contained unit. This latter point is of importance in that a kitchen cannot expect to command for long the patronage of persons outside its immediate neighbourhood. On the debit side of the centralised arrangement must be set the cost of transport, also the risk of