It hardly seems possible that the first month of the year is over - and with precious little to show for it. When not hacking away at the garden with a machete (so much rain, so much greenery, so little of anything else - tomatoes taking weeks to even turn pink and then being picked off by the possums, eggplants staunchly refusing to do anything much more than look attractive, and who knew that possums also have a liking for broccoli?) I have had my head buried in old recipe books by the likes of Harriet Wicken and Amy Schauer. Never much of a cake maker I am more than happy not to have had to follow recipes which call for the amount of baking powder you can fit on to a sixpence and give no information at all about tin sizes but do suggest you beat the mixture for 20 minutes! Even my poor old Sunbeam Mixmaster would draw the line at beating for 20 minutes. Authors like Wicken were big on advice and short on the sort of precision to which we have become accustomed. I hope I never need to remember this but you might like to know that you can check the oven temperature by placing a piece of paper in the hot oven for three minutes and then investigating what colour it has turned - if dark yellow the oven is hot enough for large cakes, light yellow and you are ready for small cakes.
Australia Day always generates some press about our lack of a national cuisine. Coles supermarkets took on the challenge this year and rose to the opportunity to, and I quote from The Sydney Morning Herald, 'turn our jingoism into the jingling of coins in the till'. Among other things they managed to persuade Masterfoods to package tomato sauce in blue plastic bottles (instead of the usual red) and talk Arnott's into producing Australia-shaped biscuits (but not, of course, Tasmania shaped biscuits).
For a glimpse of what a visiting American foodie had to say about Australia Day see here. And for a laugh from Sam Kekovich if you haven't already you should have a look at his "Barbie Girl" video with lines like 'be my mate while the chops marinate' and 'marination leads to salivation' and his rant as Lambassador where he complains that a 'lack of lamb has led to a littany of lamentable behaviour'. Both videos are here at his official web site and the 'Barbie Girl' is also here.
Ever since seeing 'Jesus Almagro and the Golden Bocuse' (which you can read about here) I have had a fascination with the Bocuse d'Or competition (I wrote about it again here too) so I was pleased to see that the Americans are back in the race for the event next year. You can read about the USA finals here. The Australian bid, if there is one, doesn't seem to get anything like the same amount of attention, which is perhaps not altogether a bad thing.