Showing posts with label Australian foodstuffs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Australian foodstuffs. Show all posts

Friday, March 4, 2011

Australian meat pies

My daughter and son have never forgotten their first day out in Sydney, when they were small kids. I bought three hot meat pies, and we sat down to eat them in a corner of the Royal Botanic Gardens. Since this would be the first time ever that my children were to taste this famous Australian delicacy, I warned them that the gravy inside the pies was quite hot. So, they must not be tempted to bite into their pies as if they were sandwiches, for they would burn their mouths. As a conscientious dad, I made sure that this message got through to my kids. And they attacked their pies expertly. As for me, I failed to heed my own warning. Biting into my own meat pie as if it were a lukewarm hamburger, I promptly yelled in pain as a stream of boiling gravy scalded my lips and splashed my shirt. Needless to say, my kids found the situation funny.

Yesterday, for the first time ever, I decided to prepare genuine Aussie meat pies (or almost) at Gamone, using ready-rolled pie pastry. It's remarkably easy. A packet of 400 g of beef mince enabled me to prepare enough mix for the equivalent of four individual pies, which I cooked in two sessions: yesterday, then this evening. My meat pies happened to be square, not round, since I baked them in a rectangular ovenware dish. Incidentally, that meant that I had to buy square pastry rather than the usual circular product.

I didn't worry too much about strict Aussie orthodoxy, in the sense that I did not incorporate Vegemite into the meat mix, and I didn't serve them up smothered in ketchup. My mix included chopped black olives and precooked French mushrooms, and there was no doubt a little more Italian olive oil than in standard Aussie pies. Needless to say, I used ample Worcestershire sauce both in the preparation of the meat mix (to dissolve the maize starch) and to accompany the cooked pies. The combination of olives and Worcestershire sauce gave my pies a distinctive flavor.

Incidentally, I found it necessary to erect a small parchment-paper chimney in the middle of the pastry, to prevent it from rising above the meat during the baking. I don't know how they solve this problem out in Australia when cooking standard-sized meat pies.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Cheese production in Australia

As a fortunate Australian (from a cheese viewpoint) now settled in France, and living just a dozen or so kilometers from the prestigious cheese center of Saint-Marcellin, I feel it my moral duty to air the following video:

This campaign is being promoted by the following fine organization:

Friday, July 30, 2010

Do people really eat it?

On the chic website of the French weekly L'Express, I found a curious Marmite video, which I don't really understand. Did the British manufacturer of Marmite actually pay money to produce this publicity, and get it displayed by the French weekly? If so, the company should immediately sack their advertising chief, because there's no way in the world that such a video is going to augment sales of Marmite in France. Maybe it's simply a video creator at L'Express who's having fun. In any case, you don't even need to understand the French language to see that this video is treating Marmite as if it were some kind of exotic English shit (well, it is, isn't it?), which no self-respecting French gourmet would ever touch.

At one stage, the video evokes Australia's Vegemite as "a pale copy" of England's Marmite. Them's fightin' words... but maybe we Australians shouldn't squabble about that way of presenting things. Personally, in any case, I don't give a damn, because I've never swallowed a mouthful of either Marmite or Vegemite. As I indicated in my recent article entitled Staple Aussie food [display], I'm basically a specimen of the peanut-butter category. Adult Down-Under folk don't usually move from one category to another. It's a bit like religion. If you were brought up on Vegemite, you're not going to give in to evangelists who might try to convert you to peanut butter, and vice versa.

As for French people who've never been tempted by peanut butter, golden syrup and treacle, Vegemite, Marmite or any of that stuff, they can only be considered, from an Aussie sandwich viewpoint, as the equivalent of atheists.

POST-SCRIPTUM: On the L'Express website, a commentator has used a splendid French adjective to designate politely his disgust when faced with products such as Marmite and Vegemite. This marvelous old adjective, immonde, has its roots in 13th-century Latin: immundus, the contrary of mundus, "clean". Basically, it means "dirty", very dirty. In the Marmite video itself, the final participant uses the interesting French adjective dégueulasse, made famous by the US actress Jean Seberg in the film Breathless by Jean-Luc Godard.

Only a talented Anglo-French poet could explain all the delicate shades of disgust conveyed by this everyday French adjective.