Monday, April 23, 2012

Anzac Day in Egypt, 1916.

Anzac Day – the national day of remembrance here in Australia - falls on Wednesday this week. It commemorates the landing of Australian and New Zealand troops on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey on April 25, 1915, and is arguably our most important national holiday.

I have decided to dedicate the entire week to recipes from newspapers and small cookery books from various parts of this wide brown land, and hope you enjoy them.

Firstly, to give an idea of the significance of the events of that day, I give you an article from The Brisbane Courier of June 8, 1916. One year later the day was already indelibly engraved on the minds of Australian soldiers – who managed to bring that peculiar blend of Aussie and military humour  and slang to their commemorative dinner.

The anniversary of Anzac Day was celebrated by the 4th Australian Ordnance Section with considerable gusto, judging from a typewritten menu used on that occasion, and which has found its way to Brisbane. The division, it is stated, was “on the Egyptian desert”, and the anniversary was celebrated “mid sand, sin, sorrow, sun, soldiers, and ‘sore eyes.’” The menu of the “dinner a la ordnance” is headed by the well-known lines of Burns:-

Some hae meat and cann eat
And some was eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.

followed by “7 pm, Fall in and carry on … Mungery ad lib.” The eatables were set out as follows:- “Hors d’oeuvres – Not got Johnny, Bookera plenty. Soup – vegetables, Egyptian swimmers (fish) – Canal bread, HH combination. Sauce – Dublin. Rabbits – wild, Australian fricasseed. Geese – tame, roast cold, seasoned, pedigree unknown. Ham – York, quise caters. Peas – green, fresh (so says the Gyppo). Potatoes – new, boiled. Tomatoes – ripe, au natural. Asparagus – iced, sauce vinaigrette (marvelous.) Pudding – duff, plum. Blanc mange – various colours, no other distinguishing marks. Jellies – fruit, flavour in Aspic? No! cant be did. Cheese – GS., fairly reliable, toasted (bonser crook). Oranges – very good, very nice, very clean, big ones. Almonds – raisins, on storks, assorted Pickles, sauces, Baksheesh from Budden’s stock. Beer, whisky, soda, café, wine (perhaps.) The toasts were: “The King”, “The Day We Celebrate,” “ Absent Friends,” “Success To Our Cause,” and “Australia.”

As the recipe for the day, I cannot do better than to give you the instructions for preparing Australia’s cute furry environmental disaster in a simple stew, albeit poshed up as a French fricasse.

Rabbit Fricasse.
Take one young rabbit, two ounces, of butter, and a half ounce of flour, some white stock, half a pint of milk half a small slice, turnip, one or two strips of celery (chopped), a little parsley, thyme, and a bayleaf, tied together; one blade of mace, six white peppercorns, some salt and pepper. After rinsing the rabbit in warm water cut it into neat joints, and put them into a stewpan with sufficient stock to cover. Bring to boiling point; add the prepared vegetables, peppercorns, mace, and a little salt; cover the pan close, and cook gently for one hour and a quarter, or until the rabbit is tender, adding a little milk from time to time to replace the stock boiled away. Meanwhile melt the butter, add the flour, cook gently without browning, and set aside. Take up the rabbit, keep it hot, strain, and add three-quarters of a pint of stock to the blended flour and butter. Stir until boiling, then simmer for ten minutes. Pass the vegetables through a sieve, and stir the puree into the sauce; season to taste; and replace the rabbit to get thoroughly hot, and serve.
Evelyn Observer and Bourke East Record (Vic) Friday 4 June 1915

Quotation for the Day.

I would like to find a stew that will give me heartburn immediately, instead of at three o clock in the morning.
John Barrymore

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