Posts Tagged ‘Pork’

How was your Pulled Pork?

March 2, 2017

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After our American friend arrived a couple of days ago we had lunch at a local pub. Our friend from California is having extensive additions and renovations done on his house. He needed to live elsewhere for the duration of this. He is renting a house in the never never of Sydney’s sprawled-out Western suburbs. In the past it would have been referred to as beyond the black stump. In the earlier days of colonisation, the black stump was a landmark used as a pointer to unmapped interior of Australia. This sunburnt never never country. The black stump, a burnt-out tree!

After arriving and perusal of menu, Helvi chose the Pizza with anchovies and my friend and I went for the brisket sandwich. My friend explained this is a traditional Jewish dish. A kind of pulled slow cooked beef. What is it about this pulling of meat lately? There is now a race on to have ‘pulled’ meat dishes on menus. Especially pulled pork. Not long ago it was the pink salt or Himalayan salt. Soon after the wooden platters or slate on which food was served. Remember the waiter going around with giant pepper grinders? That’s old hat now. We have ‘pulled’ pork or beef. Are cooks pulling on a piece of meat before cooking it?

It is all so confusing. Are people now socialising, talking about their latest ‘pulled pork platter’ at the Berlin Café? I can’t imagine asking a nice sophisticated lady during the interval at Beethoven’s ninth symphony at Sydney’s Opera house, ‘ How was your pulled pork today?’

Within about ten minutes or so, our dishes were ready. This pub gives you an electronic buzzer which always frightens me a bit when they go off. So much now is done electronically. This pub is very popular. It means those devices are going off almost continuously with people dancing around from table to table.  With my deafness I sometimes mistake this noise with a call on my mobile phone. I now don’t take my phone with me. Even so I react. It is so crazy out there. Life so much nervous reaction which I can do without.

The patrons then walk to the counter and pick up their dishes. With the introduction of wooden plates it is an art  to walk back without spilling pulled meat or anchovies onto other diners. This is especially so during Friday nights when people go around selling raffle tickets. Most pubs do that. The tickets are raised to fund charity for the poor home-less or football clubs. Lions clubs or Father Riley, The Smith family and so forth.

After we picked up our wooden platters of food, we got stuck into it. The juices from this pulled brisket sandwich soon flowed onto the wooden platter. Those wooden platters don’t have a rim like good ceramic plates have. I made a little dike with a paper napkin. This building of dikes comes naturally. Even so, it distracts and the brisket wasn’t all that well pulled. Enfin, we continued on. Our American friend commented that it was nothing like his mother’s brisket cooking.

Is anything ever like our mother’s?

 

Re-visit the Eco Village. Is it Utopia?

October 22, 2015

photoThe geranium

We went back to Currumbin Eco Village to again search for the elusive Utopian way of life. We all know that it doesn’t exist. They say, it is the search and not the end-station that matters. That sounds a bit strict and pedantic. It is so personal. One’s Utopia is another’s hell. There are those whose dreams of communal celery fests or sweet potato gorging might well be found in the hinterland of some semi-tropical paradise, tucked at the bottom of a rarely visited valley, miles away from the frugality of Aldi or the culinary delights of Hog’s Breath restaurants. ( A chin dribbling Prime rib & Pork Combo for $ 42.-) It brings me to an observations on how anyone can be enticed to dine at such named restaurant? I mean, will you all join me at the trough?  Shall we slurp in unison and do a porker or a baconer? Yet, the Hog’s Breaths  cafes are hugely popular. It defies at least my logic.

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Of course, and it goes without saying, that much of those fat, sugar and salt outlets are now under the micro- scope of our health ministers. The response of the fast food monopolies is to show photos of dew-dappled apples and juice exploding crispy celery sticks with all sorts of initiatives including helping the poor kids in hospitals with a Donald Trump look alike Ronald Mcdonald prancing about. This still doesn’t hide the fact that there is a world wide crisis of obesity looming that will easily out kill all wars being fought at the moment. In fact, it is a war like no other war ever fought before. Fast food outlets are achieving what all the rogue warlords with their laser guided bombs are not. And that is the indiscriminate killing of millions by selling addictive foods. All for the defence of nice profits and belching billionaires hoping to have a shot at some Presidency or owning golden Kingdoms.

The re-visit confirmed again that the title of Currumbin being the best Eco village in the world is well earned. Here are just some of the thirty accolades.

“United Nations Association of Australia

Building Commission Award for Best Sustainable Residential Development 2008

FIABCI – International Real Estate Federation Prix d’Excellence Award

The World’s Best Environmental Development 2008″

I thought that the most outstanding feature was that the community seemed to be connecting. None of that obsession of our privacy till the grave. No fences as proof of a demarcation of what is mine and that of which that is not yours. The houses higgledy piggledy jumbled at all angles to each other with at least some roofs facing the sun to carry the solar panels. I spoke to a few and they all loved living there and regretted not having made the move earlier. They cared about the landscape and worked together to make it even better. There were communal work bees in planting hundreds of trees and invitations to ecologists. There were a retired judge,  professors,  agronomists and agriculture experts living at the village. I was told many people living there were from Dutch, German and French backgrounds. I did hear their English spoken faintly in foreign accents from years ago. The European migrants of the fifties now getting old but happy. It looks that since the beginning of this Eco village in 2005, the hurdle of its hesitant beginnings have been overcome. It looks it is thriving and growing even stronger.

It is no Utopia but getting pretty close. It brings me to a fascinating bit of history which for some reason is kept well out of our history books. It is the story of the first  of the  Australian  diaspora.

I wonder how many of us have ever arrived penniless anywhere, away from own language and customs, trying to make sense of a world that is totally foreign? My parents did and so did many others.

In the past there was a group of brave Australians who did venture to a far away non-English speaking country with hardly any possessions, dirt poor. They were the very first of Australian Diaspora. They intended to set up for good, a new society with ideals of justice, sharing of the common good and away from the disappointment of what Australia had failed to provide them.

“We’ll all share alike, all be equal, and live as happy as turtle doves!”

“Yes, but who will do the washing up?”

This was the catchcry in about 1893 of their leader William Lane with a shearer asking the question about washing up.

The recent news about “The Tree of Knowledge” in Queensland’s Barcaldine, the birthplace of Australian Labor Party in 1891 as a result of the Shearer’s Strike, is what prompts me to write about this amazing piece of history that seems to have got lost somewhere.

It has me baffled that Ned Kelly or Bradman the cricketer rank in Australia’s history so much more than the heroic attempts by hundreds of Australians to start a new life elsewhere.

It is especially puzzling when amongst those Australians it included Dame Mary Gilmore (nee Cameron).

The Shearer’s Strike in 1891 resulted in many being imprisoned, when on March 7 a contingent of the United Pastoralists’ Association arrived at Clermont. They were surrounded by 200 rioting unionists.

At Barcaldine hundreds of shearers “stared down” soldiers rifles and hundreds marched behind the Oddfellows’ band. There were threats of woolsheds being burnt down, railway-lines being dynamited and things were getting out of hand.

Thus the Australian Labor Party (ALP) was born, and so was a communism believing group of people led by the charismatic, teetotaller and abstemious William Lane.

The seeds of leaving Australia to set up an Utopian community in Paraguay was born out of those tumultuous years both before and after the shearer’s strike when the pastoralists managed to introduce non-union labour including Chinese and Kanak non-union labourers, shearers and rouse-abouts.

During 1893 on board The Royal Tar almost 500 Australians set sail for Paraguay. They would try and set up a socialist utopia, live in peace and harmony, with equality for all. Can you imagine the feelings of those true blue Aussies and shearers to boot? On board were many tents, building materials, horses and buggies and also included a piano and organ.

After arrival, the men were to set up dwellings on a large tract of land that the Paraguayan Government had leased to the group providing that a minimum number of new Australian settler families would farm and cultivate that land within a certain time frame.

The group included many married couples of whom some of the wives and children would follow later, after the tents and other temporary dwellings were set up in the jungles of Paraguay. There were just 3 single women on board but many bachelors!

The present boatpeople arriving in Australian waters do not have a welcoming committee or a friendly Government that those Aussies had in Paraguay so many years ago. There are no speeches held, nor are they given tracts of land to cultivate.

Some of you will point out that the Australians entered Paraguay legally and that the present boat people are “illegal”.

Desperate refugees’ plights are far worse than our own 1893 Diaspora. Would it not be nice and civil and obliging our Human Rights obligation if the mainly Afghans, Sri Lankans and some others were at least allowed temporary settlement on shore rather than in the isolation of detention camps at Christmas Island, Manus and Nauru?

They might have been smuggled by unscrupulous dealers but they are not illegal people.

Australia is the least populated continent in the world. This is why migrants were and are still allowed to settle here by the hundreds of thousands.

My own parents arrived here with just the clothes they were wearing and a few suitcases. “Speak f***ng English?”, we were told, and Italians and Greeks were dark skinned garlic eating, knife pullers. Anyone darker and the White Australian Policy could prevent settlement in Australia till 1973.

The Paragayan Utopia failed for many reasons. The insistence of temperance by William Lane in favour of the local ‘yerba mate’ tea drink did not go down well with the Australians that had solemnly promised him total sobriety, (after a couple of beers), before departing from Balmain, Sydney.

A very youthful Caroline Jones retraced their steps and an ABC documentary was produced in 1975. The centenary of the 1893 departure of The Royal Tar was celebrated in 1993 which I attended with a few hundred others.

There are some books written on this fascinating piece of Australian history. It does not seemed to have gripped historians to any degree though.

Perhaps it is all too boring a subject. Perhaps the idea that Australia was once seen by some as less than a desirable country? Perhaps also that the word Communism is part of this story?

Who knows?

Rosaria from Gozo ( Mustafa’s dilemma)

September 27, 2011


Hzanna was somewhat piqued after the evening and it wasn’t the pinot. It had all turned a bit fluffy. Never mind, it was a nice meal and she blamed the imbibing of just a mouthful too much alcohol that made her friends step over the limits of what could perhaps better have been left alone. The vegetable confession would soon be forgotten. Perhaps club venues were at fault. All those lights, the faux bon jolliness of it all, the whole place somehow reeked of failure; a downgrading of what getting together ought to be about. These couples’s sittings together in the lounge, waiting for the meat raffles to start. Why the vacant staring at the blown up TV screens, the yawningly emptiness of it all? It was called ‘a night out’. Hooting of the locomotive and the rattling of coins, somebody had a reprieve from permanently losing money, their home and family. Hzanna thought it more of a night lost.

She still remembered, sitting around with friends in Gozo. It was different then. This was another world though, just as valid. Was it? Perhaps it was still settling down, finding its legs.

Hzanna’s husband thought that the pork crackling could be the catalyst for a renewed business venture. He was working on it, doing back of the envelope calculations. Hzanna noticed his familiar furrowed brow. Deep in thought, he had to weigh up the sensitivities amongst his customers that were opposed to pork and those on the other side, that loved pork and for whom crunchy crackling might well be a most desired snack.
Still, the Islamic community was far more tolerant than most thought. They stayed away from pubs and gambling but did not object to those that did frequent those venues. If some chose to eat pork, so be it. For Muslims it is an unclean animal, doesn’t even produce cud, and would happily eat human excrement. But, if there are those who bought pork and ate it, let them.

He decided to seek council from one of his best friends, Mustafa, a devout Muslim and known for his endless storytelling, a wit that made the world in Rockdale laugh, and a born raconteur whose parents came from Lebanon.

Mustafa has his own business. It is a good business, somewhat hot in summer but a bonus in winter. He had a Doner Kebab with Falafel franchise tucked in between a newsagent and a T.A.B. It couldn’t be better positioned. Even if it wasn’t sign-posted Halal, it was expected to be so. No self respecting Doner Kebab merchant would ever sell pork kebabs. The T.A.B shop of course would not hold too many Islamic customers for Mustafa’s Kebabs; they would never step inside any horse betting shop. On the other hand, many, especially the locals, some of whom might have lost a bundle but still liquid enough would queue up to purchase a kebab. For those, the ache of a loss would be compensated with a tasty Kebab roll.

Mustafa would be busy slicing the lamb or chicken with a mountain of pre-sliced onions proudly showcased under a small glass cabinet. The spicy aroma of freshly chopped parsley, coriander tomatoes would spread far enough to entice others as well.

Opposite Mustafa’s take away was a massage establishment ‘Sally’s Therapy’ discretely advertised on a flickering pink neon sign. The entrance was hidden at the back. There was a steady toeing and froing of tense looking men, seeking spinal relief or just getting a full service for all sorts of undefinable stresses or ailments. Whatever they received from Sally, it did not lessen their appetite. Most seemed ravenous or at least very hungry afterwards. Mustafa was busy with the ever diminishing rotating pyramid of compressed meat, heating the pide, packing it with the fore-mentioned onions, parsley and tomatoes. ‘With or without chilli sauce’, was the burning question. Most ordered ‘with’.

While Mustafa was catering for the hungry and Sally for those in pain or lost for love, Mr Azzopardi decided to seek council from his friend Mustafa. ‘What would you, do my friend, about my idea of nice salty pork crackling’? Mustafa, who in his alcove of rotating towers of meats, (not unlike the swirling dervishes of his youth) always took time for philosophical discussions, no matter what the subject.

He was devout but not one suffering from idée fixe. His tolerance towards others and beliefs was generous and he had, in his Doner Kebab world, met many different types of people, of whom to be tolerable of. Some were better than others but he wasn’t easily upset or disappointed in the general environs of Rockdale’s mankind.

His parents had come from a war torn country and embraced their new country without condition or bias. Indeed, his parents had wholly accepted this new world but insisted on the children to stick to Islam and a general following of the Quran. Not that they were at all fanatic. ‘It soothes your soul’, they used to tell their son Mustafa.
It doesn’t do much harm to have a belief in what is good, have respect for the world you live in. ‘You don’t get respect out of thin air, they often added. ‘You have to earn it”.

Mustafa sometimes riled his parents,’ my idea of what’s good might not be yours’, he said. ‘We all share what’s good if you don’t do harm to others,’ his mother added. Well, I don’t, Mustafa shot back quickly.

He had however, in a moment of weakness of spirit but not of body, darted across the road to seek the healing and stroking hands of Sally. He had stuck ‘back in twenty minutes’ into the rotating compressed lamb tower but otherwise left his stall open.
Afterwards, with his pleasure subsiding, his conscience nagged a little. Had he now failed in the department of ‘respect’? Sally seemed accepting and cheerful enough. ‘I give pleasure for money’, she simply stated. He found himself now questioning his moral stance, the essence of his beliefs. How could something that felt so good be possibly bad? Could he now also be swayed to accept pork crackling next? For many, the eating of crackling also felt good! What next; pork chops?

What will become of me now, Mustafa asked himself?