Australia is a diverse, multicultural nation made up with peoples from all parts of the world. Coming from different backgrounds, we may have different traditions in relation to food. These traditions could be cultural, religious or even something that a family has done for many years.
This month let us know what food traditions that you have. It could relate to a particular
life event (birthdays, births, deaths etc)
festivity (Christmas, Chinese New Year, Ramadan, Easter etc)
family event (child graduation, house warming, response to act of kindness, welcoming visitors etc)
Please share your food traditions below outlining what it is and when it occurs.
This month Food Challenge Badges will be awarded to those with the most interesting food traditions.
Please ensure that any post is respectful of the differences which may exist within our peoples in our great nation.
From an original idea of Food Champion Peter @phb . Posted by the Food Champions Gaby @Gaby Peter @phb and Mike @vax2000
An Italian tradition linked to a religious festival: the feast of Saint Joseph on the 19th of March.
The traditional sweet is Zeppole, which can be made of choux pastry and filled to overflow with pastry cream, or be a rich doughnut batter, or just a plain mix of flour and water and dropped by the spoonful into boiling oil and dusted with caster sugar, depending on which region, city, town, you’re in.
Another beautiful excuse to eat drink and be merry
I’m afraid mine is a tad boring. The family came from British stock, so Christmas was about hot food. Roast chicken and lamb or pork, roast potatoes, peas, carrots, and a massive pudding with threepences, sixpences, and one or two florins baked into it. The custard was ordinary, not brandied. However very early in my life, Mum decided that all this cooking in hot weather was just insane, so we moved on to cold food instead. Mum used to make an appetiser with pineapple, juice, and fresh mint (and I still love it to this day), then we would have a prawn cocktail followed by a ham and chicken salad, and the ham was huge thick chunks, not this thinly sliced gunk thats available. The ham was ordered well ahead of time from the butcher, and it was the best tasting ham, ever. another one of those special things, whereas these days its ham all year, ditto chicken. We stopped having pudding and contented ourselves with Christmas cake. Home made of course, from a recipe handed down from Nan, who acquired it from Cook in the House she was a maid in, in the UK, decades before.
Any time daughters are here for their birthdays I am required to make a birthday dinner for them - nothing new about that. These last 20 years the demand has been for the same dish so I suppose that qualifies as a tradition. I have to make the main course steak with bernaise sauce. We are not of French background culturally and I am trying to teach them to make it so when I am old and grey they do it on my birthday. If the grandchildren develop the taste perhaps in time it will be established.
I completely forgot about Christmas morning with Max and Iain. Pancakes loaded with fruit and cream, and good coffee and good company. The boys would have all their friends around, as well as some neighbours. I looked forward to it, every year. Sadly, they both passed away from the ravages of HIV, many years ago. But I will always remember (or try to) those very pleasant interludes.
We have another tradition but it is not to do with eating. At Christmas at 1pm Sydney time the family will toast to loved ones present and absent wherever they are in the world. This has been observed every year since 1941 when they were all around the world in the armed services.
I rarely use recipes. For stuff I have made many times I never do. Bernaise is an emulsified sauce flavoured with tarragon, it is not very stable and you need to pay attention. It goes something like this for 2-3 servings.
In a small saucepan boil 1 rounded dsp finely chopped parsley, 1 flat dsp dried French tarragon, 1 dsp good vinegar and half a cup of water. Boil it down stirring with a small wooden spoon until there is about 1 dsp of liquid left. Cool.
Nearly fill a larger saucepan with water so the small one floats high in it, the water must not get into the small pan. Bring the water to the boil and reduce the heat. You are making a water bath.
Add two large egg yolks to the cooled herb vinegar, if it is too hot you get scrambled herbed eggs. Place the pot in the simmering water bath and start adding chunks of salted butter about 1 dsp each, hold the pot still and stir. The butter will melt and incorporate into the mix. As each chunk incorporates add more, it will thicken as you go. Stop when you have enough sauce - about 100g of butter. Taste and adjust with a little salt and/or lemon juice if required. Don’t add much of either. Serve immediately on to rare beef steak that has been allowed to rest a few minutes.
If the sauce splits you can save it by taking it off the heat and stirring quickly. If that doesn’t work add 1 tsp of cold water and stir quickly around where the water went in, it will miraculously re-emulsify and you will be able to get all the sauce together again. Commercially they add flour to stabilise it but I don’t hold with that.
Basil is the king of fresh herbs but tarragon is the king of dried herbs and this is the queen of sauces. Make sure you have French tarragon not Russian or any other. There really is a big difference.
Thank you so much @syncretic for such a detailed and helpful explanation on how to make bernaise sauce. Like so many sauces
it looks easy to do, but it’s the little details, and the troubleshooting which only comes with experience that saves the day.
Your other tradition of remembering those away at Christmas time, is also a very beautiful one.
Growing up in England but with the twist of having parents who came from the “Continent” I had the Turkey with all the trimmings on Christmas Day. In the UK the turkeys are massive and sometimes too big to go in the oven. The trimmings consist of bacon draped over the breast to keep it moist, chipolata sausages stuffing, all cooked together. Then as side dishes, bread sauce, cranberry, sauce, roast potatoes, carrots, Brussels sprouts and as many other vegetables as could be found in the shops. Lots of gravy and the afternoon spent asleep in front of the telly watching an old black and white war movie. Christmas Eve however was for the opening of the presents in front of the fire while having a glass of homemade wine (blackberry was a favourite). Nibbling on thin rye crackers layered with cheese and thinly sliced dill cucumbers which in my house had to be the Polish Krakus brand. After the present giving out came the Piragi. These are like small crescents of sweetened bread dough stuffed with chopped smoked bacon, onion and pepper. The rolling of the circles was a humongous job, they were cut out of the rolled bread dough with a glass, assembled with a teaspoon of the rich fatty bacon mix and well glazed with egg or milk. It didn’t matter how many were made they were all eaten straight from the oven. I passed this tradition on to my children and while they now only open one present on Christmas Eve and the rest on Christmas morning, (bridging both cultures), they still either make or request the piragi at Christmas. My eldest son makes them now.
For us, our immediate family tradition is having jaio zi (餃子) /dumplings at Chinese New Year. We are not Chinese (Anglo-Saxon), but having lived in Middle Kingdom, it has become a family tradition we have picked up and love (with our friends),
We have jaio zi as the wrappers are round…and in good Chinese spirit, it doesn’t have corners which may come between friends.
We also make our own which are principally pork mince, ginger, Chinese chives, Chinese cooking wine, Zhenjiang vinegar and a bit of pepper. Delicious with a dipping sauce, served with stir fried egg and tomato…I am making myself hungry.
My Nan grew up in Birmingham during the blitz, so her cooking always had the, ahem, flavor of wartime rationing about it, but the one big splurge of the year was christmas - She went all out for the full English experience, with turkey, pork, roast potatoes and all the other good stuff that went along with it, especially mushy peas. The highlight was, of course, the Christmas pudding, made faithfully according to her circa 1912 cookbook (when butchering your cow, keep the hide intact for the tanner and remember to retain the suet…).
A few years before she passed away the two of us had a Christmas pudding making day (yes, with real suet), and made about a dozen traditional puddings. They keep forever, but we’re down to our last two.
Thankfully Nan took her recipe for boiled tripe with her to the grave, but that cookbook, complete with her carefully scrawled notes and annotations, is now one of the families prized possessions, though I doubt we’ll ever be able to recreate the puddings without her watchful eye on our work.