Seeing trays of deep-red heirloom tomatoes showcased at local greengrocers takes me back to summertime in the 1960s, when my father, András, grew a meaty and flavoursome Hungarian Oxheart variety from seed.
‘BELIEVE it or not, the elegant and beautiful Easter lily and the dry, old smelly onion are close cousins, both coming from the lily family,' medical anthropologist John Heinerman writes in his fascinating Encyclopedia of Fruits & Vegetables (Parker, 1995).
Once upon a long time ago, in the mid 1960s to be precise, a sweet little Hungarian-Australian girl named Lizzy (me!) stood in the school canteen queue, two cents gripped tightly in her hand, waiting patiently to buy a Vegemite crust for her play lunch. The outer crust of the soft white loaf was spread with creamy butter and finished with just the right amount of the (almost) black salty spread. If I close my eyes and concentrate right now, the aroma (and taste) of that combination is still there under my nose and on the tip of my tongue.
In the 1990s this energetic young thing spent several hours a week at a local gym. Step aerobics, funk classes and circuit training were on the agenda, accompanied by the sounds of C+C Music Factory, Right Said Fred and Salt-n-Pepa. What's that got to do with
I think I may have given one of my neighbours and the driver of our rubbish collection service a chuckle today. Both happened to come along the back service lane just as I popped outside to the kitchen garden to pluck some fresh zucchini flowers in the cool light of the early morning. If the sight of a half-asleep woman, scissors in hand and wearing a slinky Peter Alexander robe, didn't make them smile, the happy dance I did when I found several fiori di zucca ready to pick certainly must have.
'Cut a lemon and taste its juice — it's as though the sun is exploding on the surface of your tongue.' — Stefano Manfredi on lemons, Seasonal (Fairfax, 2007)
If you find it hard to believe that fruit and vegetables can suffer the indignity of fashion trends — particularly here in Australia — take a look at blood oranges. Ruby-fleshed blood oranges were popular in Australia back in the 1920s — that is, until they went out of fashion. So much so, in fact, that most growers removed the trees. Fortunately they have made a comeback and Australian orchardists are now growing blood oranges in quantity.
'Your cinnamon looks rancid'.
Corn is one of nature's gifts, wrapped and ready to enjoy. I love peeling back the tasselled husks to discover rows of golden yellow and white pearl-like kernels that prove to be every bit as sweet, tender and succulent as they look.
'The famous, very sweet, mint tea is a symbol of hospitality: it is served [with pastries] as soon as guests arrive at a house and at all times of the day'.
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I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.