Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sydney Apples and Wilbah Whip.

My quest this week to find recipes named for Australian cities and towns has already proven that they are almost all sweet dishes – puddings and cakes especially. It seems that when folk move or migrate to far away places, and are forced to adapt grandma’s recipes to the available ingredients, it is the cakes and desserts that they re-name, not her stews or soups. Why is this? Is it baking that is the nostalgic branch of the cooking art?

Recipes for baked apples have been around for as long as there have been cooks, ovens, and apples – so what makes the following recipe Sydney-specific?

Sydney Stuffed Apples.
6 cooking appless
½ cupful dessicated coconut
6 halved walnuts
1 egg white
6 dessertspoonfuls castor sugar
6 stoned dates
6 dried figs
1 teaspoonful ground cinnamon.
Choose apples of even shape and size. Shred dates, figs, and walnuts. Mix with sugar and cinnamon. Core and peel apples. Beat egg white slightly. Brush over each apple. Roll in cocoanut. Place in a well-buttered fireproof dish, or in individual ones. Stuff each apple with mixture. Dab with a pat of butter. Bake until tender. Serve with thin cream.
From: New Standard Cookery Illustrated, by Elizabeth Craig, published in 1933.

Elizabeth Craig (1883-1980) was a famous and very prolific British cookbook writer. She collected recipes wherever she travelled, and although I have no evidence that she came to this country, there are a number of recipes apparently named for Australian places in her books.

There may be another intriguing example in the New Standard Cookery Illustrated. In the middle of West Australia, in the goldfields area, is a tiny pinpoint on the map called Wilbah. West Australia is a big place – it takes up a third of the continent (that is, it has an area of about 2.5 million square kilometres or about 965,210 square miles), but its mere couple of million citizens avoid the vast desert and cling to the south-western corner around the city of Perth. I don’t even know if Wilbah actually exists anymore, or if it is the location of an old homestead, but whatever is there, is a long way from the town of Kalgoorlie, which itself is 600km (over 370 miles) east of Perth. This seems like an elegant, cool dessert for a hot, dry desert location.

Wilbah Apple and Nut Whip.
1 cupful chilled stewed apples.
1 teaspoonful chopped nuts
1 dessertspoonful castor sugar
1 egg white
marshmallows and cream.
Beat apples and fold in stiffly frothed egg-white, sweetened with the sugar. Pile in sundae glasses. Decorate each with chopped nuts, marshmallow and whipped cream, flavoured with vanilla essence to taste.

Quotation for the Day …

A few years ago we colonised this place with some of our finest felons, thieves, muggers, alcoholics and prostitutes, a strain of depravity which I believe has contributed greatly to this country's amazing vigour and enterprise.
Ian Wooldridge (English sports journalist).


valm said...

Wilbah comes up on Google Earth, bs, but looks very much like the middle of nowhere to me. Goodness knows what condition the apples would be in when they finally arrived there!

Liz + Louka said...

That Wilbah Whip sounds like apple snow - I guess it's the only kind of snow you'd get in outback WA. Leave off the marshmallows and it should be delicious.

By the way, I think if Kalgoorlie was 600km WEST of Perth, it would be very wet, whereas it was pretty dry when I visited.

The Old Foodie said...

Liz - OOPS! I clearly dont know my west from my east. Thanks for alerting me (dont want to confuse the Americans!)

Shay said...

This bit of information may not be very useful to you, since I can't remember the source; but several years ago I was doing some research on the German occupation of France and ran across a reporter's account of the black market. Pork and chocolate were the two most sought after and most profitable commodities, since in times of stress peoples' bodies crave fats and sweets. The reporter may have been A.J. Liebling but I just don't remember.

Emigration had to be pretty stressful, which might explain why the emigrants tried to recreate the home country's pies and cakes and crullers.