I’ve been reading that abalone and blue fin as well as barramundi either served hot or cold in salads is one way of celebrating Australia Day. Well, I’d like whoever suggested these should take a look at my weekly budget ‘cos there’s no way I could afford to buy any of these. My local fishmonger had fish tails last week and they were $37.95 a kilo. Blimey! I used to go to the Lakes Entrance Co-Operative and buy fish rails for $8,95 not so long ago. Even salads have undergone “sophisicated updates” these days. What’s happened to the popular Potato Salad (plain or with finely chopped boiled egg added) and Coleslaw – both home made mind you – none of this popping down to the supermarket and paying exhorbitant prices for a small tub.
Now I love Lemon Delicious Pudding (sister to a chocolate self-saucing pudding) yet I’m being told that sticky date pudding is THE favourite of all time. For some maybe – for me it’s far TOO sweet (and I’m a sweet-tooth at any time) and anyway it’s an English pudding – it didn’t originate here in Australia! That’s not to say we can’t or haven’t commandeered it as our own. We Aussies will claim anything that’s good as our own invention – have you noticed that? But let’s get back to Lemon Delicious – I have a recipe that I use from an old dog-eared cook book from the mid 1800s – maybe it came out from the “old country” but I like to think that it’s Australian.
Another dish that is represented as “originating in Australia” is pumpkin soup. Well sorry folks apparently it originated back in the early 1800s in Haiti. This is another dish that we have claimed as our own. Then there is Trifle (which of course we know comes from the UK) but we do “trifle” around a bit with our trifles until they’re different enough to be Australian.
But there are a few things that Australia can be rightly proud of.
Lamingtons. That old favourite – a square (now sometimes a circle) of sponge cakes, double dipped in chocolate icing and then covered with dessicated coconut. Sometimes they are filled with cream and even a small dollop of jam these days, but they’re still typically Australian.
Chocolate crackles and Fairy Bread are two that kids enjoy – and not only kids, mind you. According to Wikipedia these two items are served at children’s parties in both Australia and New Zealand so both countries could probably claim them as their own.
I couldn’t leave out Vegemite and Cheese as a combination, but in order to avoid too much fatty food on Australia Day, merely use rye Wheat Crackers and make your own vegemite and cheese “sandwich”.
Pavlova HAS to be included. It’s as “Aussie” as you can get – and a small serving will suffice. Don’t get uptight about the sugar content!! Serve it as a Mini-Pavlova. Served with a dollop of creak and sliced strawberries or in fact any berry that is in season, this will delight the taste buds of any true Aussie.
Now we come to Kangaroo Steaks and Damper. Damper is one of those beautifully simple things to create, cook and to eat, that I’m surprised more people don’t make their own damper more often. In fact, regularly. Because it’s a basic that can be used for so many things. Dunking into your soups (and tomato soup is a good old favourite whatever the marketers tell you); and wiping up the gravy or juices from your BBQ. Kangoo steak if cooked properly is scrumptious (and I’m not known to be a red meat lover!).
I just cannot leave out the essential Aussie food that is not only a part of our history but is an everyday staple. The Australian Meat Pie, served with tomato sauce. (Relish, mustard and the likes just will NOT do – it has to be a quality red tomato sauce).
And to balance out a menu for the day, why not include: Pumpkin scones served warm with real butter (no margarine, it has to be butter!); Stuffed Curry Eggs (we don’t see these often enough these days, and honestly eggs are good for you); Celery Sticks filled or stuffed with Cream Cheese; Baby Sausage Rolls and Trifle on the side.
Plain low-sugar Cordial for the kids, and sparkling mineral water for the grown ups. There’s no need to go on a “bender” – simply enjoy good wholesome food, with good friends. You’ll be surprised at how much fun you have and you won’t land up with a “headache” from over-drinking!
So there, that’s my list of Australian dishes – maybe too simple when compared with our leading chefs and cooks, but I reckon there’ll be quite a few people who will be serving up some of my old favourites on Australia Day too!