Posts Tagged ‘Devon’

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.

https://www.google.com.au/#q=the+white+australia+policy+definition&spf=1499498124507

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.

 

Salami

March 1, 2015

DSCN2844

Todays word that came to mind on wakening was ‘salami’.

With my conversion back to white bread from whole-meal, it brought back memories from way back. My mother making sandwiches for my three brothers and one sister going to school in Australia. It was part of the ‘New Country’ that schoolkids did not come home for lunch as schoolkids did and still do back in Holland. Instead they would stay at school and have a lunch made by mothers. Sometimes, but rarely by fathers. My dad never made a single sandwich but did excel in pancakes with golden syrup.

Of course in the heat of summers and in mid flight, the opening of hundreds of lunch boxes simultaneously, created a stench that over the years impregnated the class rooms, the walls and indeed, the whole building. I can walk-by any school today and get an instant re-call of banana sandwiches, spaghetti sandwiches and the essence of any lunch box; Devon with tomato sauce. It is now thought that the Devon sandwich with tomato sauce started school bullying. In England the Devon was called luncheon meat or Spam.

My mother was at her wit’s end trying to find interesting filling for my brothers’ and sister’s sandwiches. Australia was very sunny and very spacious but as far as sandwich fillings, back in the fifties and sixties, it was a dark unforgiving place. I mean, I can still taste the tinned spaghetti with Tom. sauce sandwich. Is it of any wonder that failure followed so many that went to school?

Till the late eighties and at social adult gatherings, it was the pickled gherkin surrounded by Devon or in some rare cases ham, pierced by a toothpick’ that would brake the ice and get things rocketing and moving. Men with beer around the barbeque and the girls in the kitchen. If a man dared to move to the kitchen he was suspected of being a bit of a poofter.

It was left to the genius of Barry Humphries of the Edna Average fame to make this famous quote of someone quietly farting on entering the lift on the ground floor filling up with lawyers of Madigan and Madigan Ltd (solicitors and family lawyers) suffering all the way up to the 26th floor;… “Who opened their lunch box?”

It was some years after that Italian salami, prosciutto and non plastic cheese came to the shelves at David Jones delicatessen, soon followed by olives, real coffee and anchovies. I remember the advertisements on TV ’43 beans of coffee in every Nescafe instant coffee. In the late seventies coffee lounges opened up in Kings Cross and garlic made its entrance. It was a true revolution.

Look at me now.