Wednesday is Anzac Day. For many people it means remembering friends, family and loved ones who gave their lives during two world wars, while for others it just means a day off work, and they don't think about it a lot more deeply than that.
To really consider what the meaning of Anzac Day is, now, in 2012, regardless of whether or not you closely identify with the sacrifices made by those young men (and women!) all those years ago, I reckon you need to consider just how different the world would have been back then. No email. No Google or Wikipedia enabling you to know everything, and correct people's spelling and grammar. No blogs (some of you probably think that would be a good thing).
In a lot of ways, the food that was eaten then, out of necessity, would have been of superior quality to what many people choose to eat now - any sort of processed foods and takeaways were few and far between, and food would not have had a lot of the additives and preservatives that food now has. Seasonal eating wasn't a statement of your "rustic-ness", and commitment to ethical eating - people simply ate what was available and plentiful.
Wives and families back home would send baking to the frontline to supplement the soldiers' rations. Back then, food transportation was infinitely less sophisticated than what we totally take for granted now. So - one of the things that had to be taken into consideration when baking for the troops would have been making things that would survive that travel factor.
Which is perhaps where the Anzac biscuit comes in - these staples, with some variations, but always featuring rolled oats, coconut and golden syrup (but never eggs) - were hardy enough to survive the long journey, and were tasty and filling. They are still popular today.
The nice people who make Chelsea Golden Syrup recently sent me a special collectors' issue tin of golden syrup (see pic above), with a note suggesting I give their recipe for Anzac biccies a crack. HA! Clearly, they missed my posts in which I confessed my frustration with my resolute inability to follow a recipe, and on the disastrous consequences of what happens even if I do. Either that or they just want me to publicly humiliate myself. Again.
Well, I somehow doubt that. The tin is pretty, and will make an excellent receptacle for my collection of pieces of paper with phone numbers and ideas scribbled on them (or something) when the syrup has been used up - the design is based on what the tin looked like at the turn of the last century. And the attached note was friendly, and gave me lots of tips, encouragement and recipes (ha!) for making the biscuits. And I like Anzac biscuits. So - you know what? I gave it a crack.
Oh dear God, what have I done? What have they entrusted me with? Don't they understand that I am actually a total charlatan, that I can't really cook to save my life, and that I am actually only really good at eating? And, to top it all off P1 is away for the weekend (cue total excess of Super 15 watching. Even the crap games), so I can't even ask her to help. And yet, still, I feel an obligation, in the name of the memory of Anzac soldiers, to press onward. Spirit of the dambusters and all that.
And so, I made the biscuits, as per the recipe from the website. Remarkably, I actually managed to follow this recipe. It has sunflower and pumpkin seeds in it, which (probably) means it is healthy. It was actually pretty easy. You just, um, follow the recipe. Do what it tells you to do in the order that it suggests. And don't mess with it. And it does say "great for junior bakers", which, I reckon, probably means me.
And, d'you know what? I MADE DELICIOUS ANZAC BISCUITS! It wasn't even hard! Even stupid people can do it! Even I can do it! I am very impressed with myself. They are chewy, and not too sweet. Not too hard - I don't like really hard biscuits, and it is probably the Golden Syrup that prevents them from being too crispy, and, rather, makes them bendy, and delicious, and more-ish. The press release informs me that Chelsea are planning more "vintage" style collectable tins - if this baking business keeps up, I might start collecting them!
So anyway, it's nice to have something as simple, and yet also iconic, still around. The next thing I am going to try - just so's I can justify collecting more tins, not merely because I am greedy, mind - is a sticky golden syrup steamed pudding. It has infinite potential to turn the kitchen into a bomb site (again) - it's just as well we're renovating.
Anzac biscuits - do you make them? Do you eat them? Will you try this recipe? How do you make yours? And - hope you enjoy the historical golden syrup pics!
The Omnivore sends best wishes, thoughts and condolences to all those who have lost loved ones during wartime - Anzac Day is a chance to just take a step back from our day to day, and remember them and the sacrifice they made for many of the freedoms we take for granted today.
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