I’m having a break from editioning the first print of my Otakou Press residency in Dunedin and thought I’d share with you foodies the lovely market here. I heard about it from another blogger before I left Australia and made a vow to have breakfast there every Saturday morning to escape from college food. It’s a vow I’ll stick to faithfully! I also wish that I had the facility to cook the occasional meal for myself, because the produce is just so nice. My family are coming over at the end of my residency, so before we start travelling, we’ll stock up on cheeses, fruit and salami, etc to make our own lunches as we tour.
They also have a mobile classroom that teaches a new dish every week. A good idea for the Canberra market!
This was my first course: a fresh hot and enormous dumpling stuffed with roast pork, cabbage and vermicelli noodles.
And this was dessert: a fresh crepe filled with home-made pear and rhubarb jam. Mmmmm…
After that, I was completely visually and physically satiated, so I went for a big walk and caught this view just before the skies opened and gushed down for the rest of the day.
I find that after a piece of fruit, some muesli and yoghurt and a milky coffee, I don’t have the appetite for toast at breakfast anymore. But today I made myself a mid-morning snack of toast with mandarin marmalade accompanied by a cup of black lapsang souchong tea. Half the pleasure came from the fact that I’d made the marmalade myself.
I’m not much of a jam maker: it’s probably anxiety associated with figuring out when ‘setting’ stage has been reached, and the fiddliness of sterilising lots of jars. One solution to the jar issue would be to make smaller batches, but this seems a bit counterintuitive. I tend to associate making jam with making lots of jam. It’s partly because, as Gay Bilson has pointed out, we tend to make the error of thinking in terms of the fruit, when we should be thinking in terms of the fruit and sugar combined. It’s also about seeing preserving as a way of dealing with gluts and windfalls: you know, that box you got from the market near closing time. Or we make lots of jam because we want to move large amounts of it at the school fete.
Anyhow, the recipe, which is disarmingly simple, is below, but it got me thinking about the history of marmalade, and food history is always insightful, not least because it puts some of our current concerns about globalisation into some sort of perspective.
The first instalment of the tale of Pamela’s journey is here.
Day 1: Canberra to Mildura (700 and something kms)
This morning the Parents sent me off into the world with a stomach full of poached eggs and bacon and in a ute packed with donated blankets and clothes (thank you Wamboin craft group, and Trish and Glen). I only got as far as Yass before I stopped for a coffee (it was a slow start). It was the beginning of what turned into a disastrous day’s eating.
Handy Hint #1: If you are ever in the position of having to buy a tall flat white at McDonald’s McCafe, make sure you ask for a double shot.
The coffee was in fact so bad that I couldn’t drink it. But against all logic, I actually chose to stop at the next McDonalds (Gundagai) to buy another one. But this time, a long black. I figure there’s not too many people in this world who can ruin a long black.
Turning off the Hume Hwy, I made north for Wagga Wagga and then west through a landscape that produces so much of our food, gourmet or otherwise: the endless, empty wheat fields of the Hay Plain; the orchards and irrigation flats of the Murray-Darling basin rivers of the Murrumbidgee; the acres of land cleared for grazing around Balranald. I was playing tag with a truck carrying 600 sheep for live export to Saudi Arabia, the driver of whom stopped to check on his flock almost as regularly as I was stopping to pee.
Like Mr Perry in last night’s BBC Emma (go here to discuss!), I am not altogether against eggs. We’re lucky enough to keep some chickens which
crap free range all over the yard. Despite having pretty much the best eggs available to humanity, I’m not a huge fan of the breakfast egg. In fact while I love eggs in quiches, frittatas or a nice spanish-style tortilla, I almost never face off an egg straight up.
We often have two breakfasts on weekends. The first is emergency carbo loading of early waking children, usually porridge, often at an inhumane hour. A hour or so later is still a very long time before morning tea, let alone lunch. This weekend’s second breakfast was baked eggs, from a recipe in the Sydney Morning Herald/Age weekend colour magazine last month by Andrew McCo. I ripped the end of his name off, poor love, and the paper doesn’t seem to include the weekend recipes on their zhuszhy site. So sorry, Andrew.
Phil Lees writes a terrific blog called The Last Appetite and has just started a world food blog at the SBS television site, cooking from the Food Safari back catalogue. It should be fantastic, as his writing is characterised by great humour and expertise. I have already left a comment asking him to do something about Maeve O’Meara’s shirts, so no need for you to worry about that.
Coincidently I caught the last bit of SBS Food Safari last night, where O’Meara explored Lebanese food. The last item, running quickly over the credits, was a breakfast pizza called manouche. Owen started groaning about how good it looked – and as we’d coincidently had pizza for dinner and there was coincidently some dough left over I told him he was in luck.