Posts Tagged ‘Broken Hill’

Australia before the arrival of garlic.

July 8, 2017
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.


Thorn amongst roses.

March 25, 2015
The humble Kalanchoe

The humble Kalanchoe

Lately there seems to be always more women around than men. It shows up especially at birthday parties. Of course in the age group of people in the range of 65 to 85, many men have carked it.  It is a known fact, which some women, who might not have rowed quite as well in the gondola of happy marriages, seem to think it ‘fair justice!’  As soon as one enters the room, and provided one arrives about half an hour later than the agreed time, one gets lots of beseeching female eyes  concentrating instinctively on scanning another solitary male, albeit even when accompanied by a female.

The reason could also be that men, instead of calmly dying, don’t like social gatherings anymore and prefer being at home in the recliner watching sport or some pseudo documentary of bearded Vikings on horseback shooting arrows at random into a stone-walled Yorkshire dale below. Anyway, whatever the reason, in our limited social events experiences, women often outnumber men at least five to one. This was the occasion last night. It was our neighbours 82 birthday to which we were invited.

She is a very busy  neighbour who knows everybody, having lived in this green spruce& conifer town for most of her life. To be fair there were four men and about twelve women. The men were all huddled in a group and the women spread in a semi circle around the table of food and drinks. I noticed an empty chair between two women and quickly headed for that one.

My other choice would have been to join the men who seemed to know each other. I did not wish to impose on whatever they were so keenly talking about. They often talk about success and achievements. I am more into failures, far more interesting.

After settling in and given a drink I just sat there cross legged with a smile and feeling confident my denture was firmly into place. The woman on my right made the initiative. She asked where I lived. The woman on the other side joined in and in no time were we talking about what we had done so far in life. I had made a fortunate choice. The woman on my right who was born before the war, started talking about an experience decades ago. The laws in Australia at the time were still Dickensian. A woman could not get served alcohol in a pub except when seated in ‘the Ladies Parlour.’ Most times, the favoured drink at that time for ‘ladies’ in the ‘ladies parlour’ was either a sweet sherry or a shandy which is a beer watered down with lemonade.

Anyway, I soon steered the subject over to the different toilet cultures experienced in overseas countries. This is were the party really got swinging. Fortunately both women had travelled a lot and knew the subject of overseas toilets even better than me (I). I regaled how in those early Australian times the word ‘toilet’ was never used for women. It was as if women were so delicate and nice, that they never had a need for ablutions. They just did not go. That’s why a toilet for women were referred to as ‘ ladies rest rooms, ladies powder rooms, even …in Hyde Park, Sydney…ladies reserves’, as if women were rounded up in some kind of South African style Paul Kruger Park behind wire fences.

The woman on my right,  Helen,  told the story of having driven during the fifties,through one of the most isolated parts of Australia, behind Broken hill, the ‘never never’ country  of hundreds of miles of dirt road. It was driving straight into the blinding western sun. For hours on end. She  finally arrived at Ivanhoe and headed for the only pub in town and wanted a cool beer. The bartender said he would not serve a woman in a public bar. In those times it was just not done, especially not in an outback town ‘beyond the black stump’. She said; I went outside and bawled my eyes out. The bartender relented and said she could have a shandy on the veranda outside, provided she would also eat a meat pie.

Can you imagine? We laughed heartily and it was a great night.

Cooking a perfect Salmon Cutlet.

April 26, 2014

DSCN2895 - Copy

We often used to go camping when the kids were small. The car would be packed with tents, poles, water containers, esky cooler, and, last but not least, the kids. The seventies and eighties were still relatively adventurous and one hacked the bushes to provide space for the tent and a wood-fire to cook on. Christmas time was mid summer and busy but even then it was possible to really camp under the stars and clamber down rocks to get access to the beach. Now, most of that is gone. The camping areas are properly licensed with flush toilets and bitumen driveways. Some people have put permanent caravans and mobile homes down, including dreaded lawns and petunias with mock-stone lions guarding the fly-screen entrance door.

They give names to those aluminium semi-camping residences like “As is, is”, “Braving the foaming waves” or the exotic “C’est la vie” and empty beer bottles are left outside to litter where once there would be a wood fire with family sitting around. It seems that getting away from ‘home’ now means imitating home as much as possible. Perhaps it is all too frightening to go bush in Australia. All those spiders lurking under the dunny seat ready to bite bum, snakes curled around the fire place, serpents slithering in the water. It might all be a bit too adventurous for many. The compromise might be to forego the dish washer but feel happy with washing machines and micro wave ovens on site.

Some years ago we drove from Alice Springs to Port Augusta. A trip that goes on and on for 1200km, it was very hot and nothing to break the monotony of a dry and desert like heat vibrating shimmering moonscape for most of the way. The most perplexing sights were the cars that had broken down. It would have been very common at earlier times when it was nothing more than a dirt track. A very hazardous trip. One could easily perish if wandering away from the car and got lost or overcome by heat. The broken cars were always upside down with the remnants of wheels poking upwards. Like dead animals, especially the top-heavy wombat. The cars would litter the landscape. Were the wheels stolen and how did they manage to turn those cars upside down? Is it a cultural thing in South Australia, a sign of having somehow survived. It is not easy to turn a car upside down and in the heat, why would one go through so much effort? Most had turned a red rust and melted into their background perfectly. I suppose nature finally reclaims everything, even old rusty cars. I wondered what happened to the inhabitants? Where were they now? Did they survive?

I remember ending up in a motel on the way from Port Augusta to Broken hill. This was another long trip but the upside derelict cars were absent on that trip. I had bought some salmon cutlets and thought of cooking those in the motel. On a holiday before we had frozen calamari rings and ended up cooking them in the motel’s toaster. Some motels have a restaurant but that one did not. The timing was perfect and if you put the toaster on the side it will prevent the thawed out calamari from collapsing to the bottom when cooking. It is best to shake out the toaster afterwards as a courtesy gesture for the next user.

When we arrived at the motel in Broken Hill I did the same with the salmon cutlet. This time I used the iron. You switch the iron on without steam. When the iron has reached top heat you then wedge the iron upside down between some books. ( most motels have a bible and phone directory) That’s how we cooked the salmon. The salmon was very nice and with a bottle of rough red we had a memorable little meal. We were too flaked out after driving all day to look elsewhere for a meal. We slept like angels.

Hope this helps.