"We don't have a very traditional, laid down set of rules around our culinary culture so we are able to take our multicultural influences and infuse it in our food in a very subtle and intricate way. We have the freedom to explore ideas and the freedom of spirit...to express that through our food."
Chef Peter Gilmore
When it comes to describing the food culture of Australia you soon realise that it isn't an easy task. Most of the food we love and the food we eat has its origins elsewhere.
Any historical overview always begins with the hunter-gatherer lifestyle of our indigenous people. Colonisation brought with it the foods of England - our country thriving with the introduction of sheep, cattle and wheat. The Gold rush of the mid-1800's drew many Chinese to settle (1861 - 7% of Victoria's population were Chinese) while the post-war period saw mass migration from Southern Europe and the Mediterranean. The 1970's heralded the start of what we now see as the modern Asian influence on our cuisine brought by Vietnamese and Thai immigration. Skip forward to today and you'll see African and Latin American influences in our food.
In regards to indigenous food, our most famous and successful export has to be the Macadamia nut. Other native ingredients remain more novelty item than store cupboard staple, though I am interested in the work done by the CSIRO in creating new citrus hybrids from our indigenous fruit. Kangaroo meat tends to divide with people hysterically claiming that they can't eat our national emblem. It is a hard attitude to change especially when you consider that the sale of kangaroo meat for human consumption was only legalised nationally in 1993. A similar scenario has played out in regards to Emu farming - you'll find more of them in China, India, Peru and the US.
When it comes to recipes that we consider our own, we are safe to claim - lamingtons, damper and Anzac biscuits though Pavlova will start arguments with New Zealanders. Meat Pies are English but the Pie Floater is all ours.
Traditional Australian dishes have their foundation in English classics while Modern Australian cuisine is a fusion of foods brought here by our immigrants. To help provide some inspiration on what Modern Australia food is like, I will direct you to these two links - Link 1 and Link 2.
In selecting a dish to feature, I decided to focus on one created for a very famous Australian by an equally famous chef - Escoffier's Peach Melba.
During her time, it could be easily argued that no singer was more renowned than our very own Dame Nellie Melba. Escoffier presented this dish at the opening of the Ritz Carlton in London.
Escoffier wrote "Pêche Melba is a simple dish made up of tender and very ripe peaches, vanilla ice cream and a purée of sugared raspberry. Any variation...ruins the delicate balance of its taste."
2 ripe peaches (not clingstone)
150 grams fresh raspberries
50 grams icing sugar
milk ice cream (or your favourite vanilla ice cream)
Mark the base of each peach with an X. Blanch the peaches in boiling water for 5 seconds and then remove to a bowl of iced water. Carefully peel the skin from each peach - then cut in half.
Place the peaches on a tray cut side up, dust over with icing sugar and rest in the fridge.
Puree the raspberries with icing sugar and then sieve to remove any seeds.
Fill a serving bowl with ice cream. Carefully place a peach half on top and then drizzle over with the raspberry purée.
Serve at once.
If you'd like to participate in this journey through Australia:
You will need to post an Australian recipe by December 7th
In your post include a link to this post and to the World Culinary ABC then leave a link to your post in the comments section below - you can also add them to the linky.
You can use old posts just update the details to include the relevant information and multiple entries are welcome.
If you don't have a blog but would like to submit a recipe - just send me an email at hellohaalo AT gmail.com and I'll post it for you.
Recipes for ABC Mondiale - Australia