Also born in 1953, I came here in 1959 as a Dutch migrant. I have my dad’s memoir of that time describing just how bad the English food we were given in the migrant hostels was, and how happy we were when our mother was able to cook good Dutch food. “Bring a plate” was part of Mum’s experience (only once, obviously).
Things we were used to were difficult to get and we looked forward to the parcels we received from the Netherlands which included the things we hankered after, especially salted licorice!
There were some German butchers around so we could get staples: pork, Gelderse worst (very hard to find now) which was essential for pea/ham soup, and bloedworst (black pudding, also hard to find now unless you downgrade to English!) Aah. The memories.
I remember going to Cahills in Park Street, Sydney, in the '60s for schnitzels and European food. That then led to Italian (when Cabramatta was an Italian suburb) through Lebanese and then to Vietnamese. What a fabulous journey.
I have an email from a late '60s school friend who still remembers the Dutch spice cake (peperkoek) I used to bring to school, as a sandwich. (Ironically, he was Hungarian).
I became a teacher, as was my wife. We taught in Sydney so the connections with migrant communities were always there. Their generosity always amazes us, especially when it came to food. Too many stories to tell.
In the '80s, we adopted a daughter from Sri Lankan which opened up even more cuisines. We’ve now lived in Indonesia (glorious food) and have spent a lot of time in South East Asia. What delicious food that entails. But so many of those cuisines are now available in Australia.
Again ironically, I’ve just come from a community gathering at the local Chinese, which has been here since at least 1982. Very Australian Chinese, in contrast to our experience in SE Asia, but still quite palatable.
The journey has been incredible. The burgeoning of different flavours as our migrants have sought their own flavours and spices has only added to our beautiful rich culture.