By gerard oosterman
When all the grand kids are over on the farm with traditional pancake eating as part of school holiday, we discovered Golden Syrup is not what it used to be. It started with the brutalisation of vegemite. I am no fan of vegemite. Anyone who can look deep inside a jar of vegemite and then still able to spread it on bread has my respect, even admiration. My mother opened up a jar back on a sunny Saturday afternoon in 1958 on the advice of a Polish refugee. She of course immediately recognized endless possibilities of savings to be made when she read ‘spread sparingly’.
Vegemite is under attack and I will, as a good and proud Australian always defend to the death the right for anyone to eat it with staunch impartiality no matter what the colour of anyone’s political persuasion or for their preferred food.
According to the vegemite lovers, it is now marketed mixed with cheese and called ‘vege-mate’ and another mixture named a phoney patriotic ‘Our Mate’ and another iSnack 2.0 the latest named by popular vote. Of course, any product now has to have both numbers and letters in higher and lower case in order to confuse and make for easier selling to the harassed and comatose consumer. Sausages will soon be sold as SAus 69 Griz.
The Golden syrup has always been the world’s favourite pan-cake spread. Ok, at least in the world of Brayton on the Wollondilly, (with the hordes of defending wombabats manning the ramparts against the evil weed inspectors). Anyway, the grandkids arrived and during pandemonium and general chaos put in the order for the morning pancakes before collapsing in a random and haphazard way to their matrasses. Helvi often tells me to let the mothers do the pancakes but that is also always, as a matter of tradition now, met by protesting grandkids, as ‘Opa can only make the pancakes just right’. ‘He makes them with the golden crusty edges and thin as well ‘, Jak says smoothly. With grandkids’ growing appetites the heap of pancakes are in tandem and this now calls for 2 cast iron fry pans. One is a surviving wedding present, made in Finland and superb for pancakes. The other is a Taiwanese cast iron alloy job with black colouring, as proof of its dodgy quality, appearing on the dish cloth.
The milk and water is added to the plain flour with a couple of eggs and pinch of salt. The mixture is thin and pure salted butter is added to the very hot pans. The whole procedure for perhaps 30 pancakes takes no more than 30 minutes with the eating perhaps no more than 7 minutes.
The Golden Syrup is not anymore what is used to be. Does anyone remember the yellow metal tins with black lettering and with a lid that used to be prised open with a knife? The colour was dark and the bouquet brooding with a mystery and hint of an almost Oriental nature. I think Raffles used to serve it up to Somerset Maugham in Singapore for breakfast, while I believe, he was writing ‘Razor’s Edge’.
Perhaps it contained treacle or molasses but it was just right for the crispy, golden edged pancakes. Now all that glory and joy has changed and gone. It was decided that it had to become’ committed’ more wasteful and turned over faster, make more and better money, and what better than to make it thinner and sell in squeeze plastic bottles that would malfunction after a couple of tries. It is a shadow and fake Golden Syrup now but makes a fortune for the Emporiums of the money merchants. It will soon be called GLod Mr3 S and Golden Syrup ‘flavoured’ in small lettering to hide deception and join Maple syrup ‘flavoured’ and Vanilla ‘flavoured’ ,but nothing real anymore.. A bummer