Today, in the Northern hemisphere, it is May Day – a day traditionally associated with the rites of spring and other sunny frolics. Today, in Sunny Queensland where, to quote the state government’s tourism authority, it is “Beautiful one Day, Perfect the Next”, it is autumn, and it is decidedly not sunny. We are in the midst of what is promised to be three days of torrential rain, and so far the weather bureau and the weather gods are in complete agreement.
In spite of the seasonal dissonance, I am going to stick to my plan of giving you recipes from Australian newspapers for May Day, and thought that something from the little island state of Tasmania might just work. Tasmania, for those of you who don’t know, is the little island state off the south-eastern coast of Australia, which is decidedly not tropical because it is too far south (to state the obvious), so is surrounded by waters and buffeted by winds which are cool thanks to its somewhat distant neighbor – Antarctica.
This is what the Advocate (Burnie, Tasmania) of 5th May 1945 had to say about May Day:
MAY DAY BRINGS SCALLOPS!
May Day is still associated with the picturesque custom of rural England of the yearly crowning of the Queen of May, a greatly coveted honor among the pretty country maidens of nearly a century ago, when life was a much simpler thing than the chaotic conditions of to-day. When reading lilting verses of this May Day crowning ceremony of Old England, it is easy to visualise the simple und happy scene. It was followed by the dancing of light hearted lads and lasses on the village green, as they revelled in quaint folk dances; also the traditional and pretty “Maypole Dance" and the infectious and colorful "Floral Dance," so graphically presented in song by Peter Dawson.
But here in Tasmania, May 1 (or May Day) heralds something far more practical and prosaic than the crowning of the Queen of May. The daily papers solemnly announce the tidings that "the scallop season opens to-day!"
Scallops gratify the popular taste. Their reappearance is welcomed by many. The catch is good in the broad waters of Southern Tasmania, but the tasty shellfish, plentiful in Hobart, comes to the North-West Coast in more restricted quantities. The best-known method of cooking scallops is perhaps that of thickening them with white sauce, parsley sauce or curry. They should be carefully cleaned und washed before use, to dispel their “fishy” odour, which savors of the briny. Today's cash prize goes to Mrs. C.B Dunham, Launceston, who has sent a trio of scallop recipes.
SCALLOPS IN SAUCE. – Two dozen scallops, or as many as required. Wash in salt and water. Sauce: One pint of milk, piece of butter the size of a walnut, a little chopped parsley, pepper, and salt to taste, or, if preferred, one teaspoonful of curry powder mixed with one dessertspoon of cornflour and a little of the milk from the pint. Boil sauce for two or three minutes, drop in scallops and again boil for three minutes only.
SCALLOPS IN BATTER.-To same quantity of scallops as in above recipe. Make a rather thin batter of one egg (well beaten, 1 cup flour, a little milk, pepper and salt to taste, also a little chopped parsley. Have pan ready with boiling fat. Dip each scallop into prepared batter and fry quickly.
SCALLOPS FRIED. – Eighteen scallops, 1 egg, ½ oz. butter, 2 oz. flour, 1 gill milk, pepper, salt, cayenne, frying fat, parsley. Wash and drain scallops on a clean cloth, sift flour into a basin, add a pinch of salt, melt butter, beat up egg, stir both into flour, add milk and work until quite smooth. If too thick, a little more melted butter or milk may be added. Let batter stand for one hour, then stir in 1 dessertspoon chopped parsley. Season scallops with a little salt, a good pinch of white pepper, and a small pinch of cayenne. Dip into batter, drop them one by one into the hot fat, fry to a golden brown. Drain on a cloth, pile up on a hot dish, garnish with parsley, and serve with tomato sauce.