In a couple of days it is a day of great national importance in Australia and New Zealand – it is Anzac Day, the anniversary of the day in 1914 that Australian and New Zealand forces landed on the Gallipoli peninsula and met their Turkish enemies. It was meant to be a short campaign, but dragged on for eight months and left 8,000 Australians and many other Allied and Turkish men dead.
So, I want to give some Australian stories this week, and I start with the question of “What is Australian food?” Don’t you hate that sort of question?
From time to time over the years I have been writing this blog, I have given recipes for things I have never eaten, and probably never will – such as skunk, from a few days ago – because they are not available here, and are not on the tourist menu of places I might visit.
It set me to wonder what “Australian Food” means to non-Australians. Often it is something that ordinary Australians rarely eat - unless they have overseas visitors – such as kangaroo. It was a little different a hundred years or more ago, when bush food was more readily available, and more people lived in the bush.
Here was The Queenslander’s (Brisbane) take on “Australian Food” on April 30, 1898.
The following recipes are from Mrs.Maclurcan's Australian Cookery Book.
One small wallaby, two onions, black pepper. Cut the wallaby into small pieces, flour and fry them in a little butter until nice and brown, put them in a jar with the herbs tied together, the onions sliced, and the cloves (about half a dozen), half a teaspoonful of black pepper, and a teaspoonful of salt; cover with water; slice half the lemon, and add the juice of the other half ; put the jar in a saucepan of water, keep it closed very tight and allow it to cook for four hours, keeping the saucepan full of boiling water. Melt the jelly, add to the port wine, and about half an hour before serving put in the jar; thicken with a little brown flour. Serve with red currant jelly.
Roast Scrub Turkey.
Pluck and clean the turkey nicely, rub it over with a little flour, put it in a baking tin with dripping, place pieces of bacon fat over the breast, baste it well all the time; bake for an hour. Serve with bread sauce.
Roast Wild Duck.
Pluck the duck nicely (do not scald it or the flavour will be spoilt), singe and wash it, dry it with a clean towel; rub it over with a little flour, cover with buttered paper, and bake in a moderate oven. It may be stuffed with ordinary stuffing. It is an improvement to squeeze a lemon over it before yon bake it. Serve with slices of lemon and port wine sauce.
Barramundi a la Normandie.
Boil your fish, and remove the skin, then cover the fish evenly with the following preparation :—To the yolk of three eggs add a wine-glassful of white sauce, an ounce of grated cheese, juice of a lemon, a teaspoonful of anchovy sauce, a little nutmeg and pepper. Stir this over the fire until it begins to thicken, then then spread it over the fish. Shake over the surface the whites of two hard-boiled eggs and yolks rubbed through a sieve, with a dessert-spoonful of cheese. Twenty minutes before dinner put it in the oven to heat thoroughly and brown. Serve with prawn sauce.