Monday, January 26, 2009

Brisbane Pish-Pash.

Today Down Under is Australia Day – the day that commemorates the English settlement in 1788 (or invasion, if you wish) of this far South Land. It is a public holiday all over the nation, and if you cant smell the smoke of a million backyard BBQ’s drifting all the way up to the Northern hemisphere, then we have failed in our national responsibility.

I thought that for this week, for fun, I would find some recipes named for Australian cities or towns. These are not in any way traditional or regular dishes, they are simply recipes with quirky names. For fun, you understand. Not heavy-duty history lessons.Naturally, I will start with my home town of Brisbane.

Today’s recipe is for Brisbane Pish-Pash. A pish-pash is ‘a soup or stew containing rice and small pieces of meat, especially chicken’ (OED). A pish-pash has a clear Anglo-Indian heritage, and essentially is a mishmash (‘a confused mixture; a medley, hotchpotch, or jumble’) - one interpretation of which is mishmish, (and here) which we considered earlier this month. Alternatively you could consider a pish-pash as another name for a hash (‘something cut up into small pieces; spec. a dish consisting of meat which has been previously cooked, cut small, and warmed up with gravy and sauce or other flavouring.’) So many ways to make a mixed up mess of leftovers sound like an exotic dish! And a worthy addition to our forgotten food words collection.

Brisbane Pish-Pash.
One cup cold chicken or meat, 2 eggs, ½ cup rice, 1 cup gravy or sauce, pepper and salt.
Very small pieces of chicken will do for this dish, such pieces as can be picked from the bone. If not small enough, cut them up into small dice. Cold boiled rice will do very well, but it must be well boiled and dry, and there should be, when boiled, 3 cupfuls. Mix the rice and chicken, boil the eggs hard, and cut into small pieces; season all nicely with pepper and salt, and put into a saucepan with a little nice gravy or sauce that may be in the larder. Shake over the fire until it is thoroughly hot through; heap on to a hot dish; garnish with a little parsley, and serve.
The Queenslander, 1896.

This dish does not appear to have any connection at all with Brisbane, apart from its name, and luckily it failed miserably to become strongly identified with the city. Perhaps an early settler to the colony of Brisbane brought with them a copy of the popular cookbook A New System of Domestic Cookery, by Maria Eliza Ketelby Rundell (1844), which contains this recipe:

Take about three pounds of the neck of mutton; boil it until tender; prepare a small teacupful of rice by bruising it raw in a mortar; then cut the meat into small pieces; throw the rice, meat, and an onion sliced into the water in which the meat was boiled, adding a small piece of mace, and a few peppercorns tied in a muslin bag; boil till the rice and onions are sufficiently done; take out the muslin bag, season with salt, and serve up. A chicken may be used instead of the mutton.

P.S As a side note: if you would like to see what Brisbane looks like, and used to look like in the past, I can do no better than recommend that you start a regular visit to Your Brisbane: Past and Present , the new blog of my friend and neighbour The Foto Fanatic. He has started off recording our own suburb of Teneriffe, taking new pictures to show side-by-side with old archival photos of the same location, and a fascinating view it is turning out to be.

P.P.S. Previous Australia Day Stories are:
The Inevitable Banquet (1888)

Meat Pie

Cakes for Australia Day

P.P.P.S. And for some recipes and advice on the original Aussie Bread (Damper), you can go HERE and HERE.

Quotation for the Day …

AUSTRALIA, n. A country lying in the South Sea, whose industrial and commercial development has been unspeakably retarded by an unfortunate dispute among geographers as to whether it is a continent or an island.
Ambrose Bierce.

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