Australia before the arrival of garlic.

IMG_0920 the potato bake

The long lost Leek for potato-bake

Many upright and still standing older burgers of Australia  cast the occasional nostalgic look back to the Australia of the yesteryears.  They were uncomplicated years, and we stood up for Queen and country. One had the school assembly with the accompanying waving of flag and wafting through most schools was the sacred banana sandwich with at most a slice of Devon as close to Continental compromise,’  as  allowable under the White Australia policy. Till the seventies, all thing British were strictly adhered to. We were more English than the English and all enjoyed Yorkshire Pudding at Christmas and pulled crackers on New Year’s Eve.

If I remember right it were the arrival of boats from Southern Europe in the fifties that spelt the beginning of the end of this peaceful Australia. True, we were already accustomed to the many from the Magyar background which Australia tolerated reasonably well, especially when they were found to be rather deft hands in Real Estate and building fancy Continental Restaurants.  In Sydney’s Double Bay one could already in those early nineteen-fifty years enjoy a real percolated coffee and with some calm discretion even order a goulash or some other European  dish. I remember an upright frumpy matron from outer suburbia of Wahroonga getting up calling for the headwaiter while pointing to the plate of steaming goulash demanding in a shrill voice to know why on earth it was so hard to put ‘ good clean AUSTRALIAN food on the table.

The Hungarians came from persecutions not that that prevented many Austrians and other  migrants from Slavic bordering countries claiming the same, even though some might well have held some rather dubious posts in the former Wehrmacht but at least they were white and that is what mattered above all else to Australia during those turbulently difficult  but yet yawningly placid years.

It were really the Italians and Greeks with their Garlic importations that changed the previous benevolent mood in Australia away from mother England and all things British. The first garlic clove was introduced by Luigi- Parresone of Palermo who started a fruit shop in Sydney’s Oxford Street. It was Oct the 30th, 1957, on a sunny afternoon, when garlic for sale was first spotted by an irate true blue Australian just coming out of the cinema which was adjacent to this fruit shop. This man had already loudly complained when the first of some cinema goers refused to stand up while the strains of ‘God save the Queen,’ were being hammered out on the Hammond Organ at the beginning of the film which was An Affair to Remember with Deborah Kerr. This refusal, together with the garlic proved too much to this upstanding Aussie.

It was later claimed that garlic and the Euro influenced refusal to stand up for the Queen that accurately predicted an ominous decline in our much beloved Anglo culture. This odoriferous garlic soon permeated throughout much of the good country of Australia and even reached Broken-Hill as early as 1959. It was said to have been introduced by Croatian migrants from The Snowy Mountains Scheme that drifted to the outback; first to Mount Isa and then to Broken Hill. They were difficult years and the police had to be called when battles broke out between  pro- and anti garlic mobs in King Street, Newtown. Brick were thrown, shops burnt and universities with professors seething with discontent..

Today, Garlic is totally accepted into the Australian cuisine and as much liked as the much beloved brown coconut encrusted Lamington cake during those earlier times. Indeed, we now enjoy food from all corners of the world. Vive le difference is now our catchcry.

The banana and Devon sandwich pervasively permeated primary schools remain a curious remnant from the past,

as was the final jettisoning of the White Australia Policy.


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8 Responses to “Australia before the arrival of garlic.”

  1. Therese Trouserzoff Says:

    Houston. My Dad was a bit of a wag and loved a practical joke. When Con arrived at his work and brought with him meat preserved in 120% garlic, Dad devised a cunning plan.

    He encouraged Con to go up to the forman and ask Dave “What is the capital of Texas ?” Now Dave was a bit hard of hearing so everyone knew they had to get up close.

    Dave, irritated replied “I don’t fuckin’ know”. To which the well-travelled Con rejoined “Hoooooston”.

    Dave almost needed resuscitation.

    To this very day, in our family, “You’re a bit Houston” has remained code for “do something about your breath !”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. gerard oosterman Says:

    Very good advice, Trouserzoff.
    Funny you should mention the 120% garlic, when right now you can buy a jarful of preserved garlic cloves at Aldi’s for a couple of dollars. I might take a mouthful with me at the next Strata-body AGM and direct most of my best retorts to the Executive Management

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Forestwoodfolkart Says:

    Thank goodness the Mediterraneans immigrated here. I got quite fed up with meat and three veg.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Robert Parker Teel Says:

    I’m enjoying your articles. I haven’t visited Australia yet, but it’s amazing to read of people objecting to good food. I’m prejudiced, of course, because two of my great-grandparents were from Hungary, but it’s hard to conceive of someone objecting to goulash, chicken paprikash, poppy seed cookies, etc. while promoting the joys of canned spaghetti on a sandwich. I was a student in England for a while, and I think there’s a little truth in that old joke, where in Heaven the police are British, and in Hell the cooks. I still have flashbacks to a pseudo-Cornish pastie I ate when low on funds, and don’t like to think what might have been in it. Sometimes you’d see those ads pasted on lampposts, for missing pets…
    I was crazy, though, about the fish and chips in Hull, and wish they’d bring savory meat pies to the U.S. That’s one positive trait of this country, we will adopt anybody’s cuisine, and the next day think it’s all-American, like frankfurters, lo mein, bagels, etc.


  5. gerard oosterman Says:

    Never had a Cornish pastie, Robert, but did enjoy a smoked kipper when I was in England.
    Fish&chips I had in Leeds. The queue was a mile long being Friday evening and everyone getting ready for the ‘Bricklayers Arms,’ big piss-up, which for many was a waste of the fish&chips.

    One of my fondest memory is of a Hungarian migrant having started a kind of wine-bar in the late fifties in Sydney. Australia had impossible liquor laws prohibiting any drinks after 6pm. He would still serve wine after 6pm to those in the know, but poured from a tea-pot.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. eremophila Says:

    I am so very thankful to have been rescued from the meat and three veg. The English are good tho at making stodgey pudding.


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