I guess most people realise that Australia was first populated by the Aboriginal people.
Then in the late eighteenth century the British our Imperial Overlords rocked up with their ships, diseases and rabbits.
“I say what an ‘orrible place this is, let’s populate it with the garbage from Britain”. “The poor, the Irish, union men and women, orphans, workhouse people and oh yes, some criminals”.
But not in South Australia, we are the State of the very poor free settlers that they wanted to get rid of anyway.
We came here in 1836 and started eating pie floaters soon afterwards.
What is a Pie Floater?
Some claim it is indigenous to South Australia, but I’m not so sure of that.
It is an Aussie Meat Pie, submerged in a sea of green pea soup, with the peas quite visible and topped with lashings of “dead horse” (tomato sauce) and vinegar if you so wish.
Sounds disgusting, yes, but wonderful to eat after a night on the piss in Adelaide, the city of churches.
Where did you get it? For many years Cowley’s Bakery, based at Cross Road, South Plympton would park their pie cart outside of the Adelaide General Post Office in the City at night and dispense pie floaters late into the night for drunks, shift workers, unsuspecting tourists and coppers.
A shortlived general feeling of wellbeing and happiness, perhaps a gentle vomit or two and for many hours afterwards a series of foul smelling, arse tearing, bowel burning pie floater farts.
Crash! The huge male orangutan swings over into another tree, searching for fruit.
He climbs higher, overlooking the canopy searching for another meal. Every day while following orangutans I notice how many different fruit trees they go to, usually around 15 or so.
They crash and clamber through the forest like hungry, hairy acrobats searching for the most nutritious meals.
One of the orangutan’s favourites is a fruit called durian.
Picture of a split-open durian fruit. The interior of a wild durian, split open with the sections of creamy flesh visible.
I am basically crazy about durian, maybe even more than the orangutans. Most people probably don’t even know what it is, especially if they don’t live in Southeast Asia.
Durian is a pineapple-sized yellow or green fruit that is covered in sharp spines. It grows on large trees and is cultivated by the local people in Borneo. The fruit has concealed sections that contain their seeds covered in edible flesh.
To open a durian, I have to carefully search for the place where the sections meet. Then I insert a large knife and twist, popping it open.
The orangutans however pry them open with their teeth and bare hands, seemingly with ease.
The pulp that covers the seeds is unlike any other fruit. It is creamy yellow or white. It tastes a little like butter with a hint of banana creaminess, but each fruit tastes different and it is virtually impossible to describe in words.
To really understand the taste and why I love them, you have to try them yourself
Picture of Russell Laman with an orangutan researcher examining cultivated durians at a fruit stand.
Each year that I visit Indonesia with my family, my first question is always, “Is the durian in season?”
It is sold all over the small towns in Indonesia. Probably the most popular fruit, it dominates the market. As I drive down the streets I am immediately aware when durians are near.
The odour that they release will clog your nose and overpower your sense of smell. Yet for me the smell holds the promise of durian, and so I have come to love a smell that many find so repulsive that the fruit is banned in hotels and on planes.
In an old hunting lodge on the grounds of an ancient Norman castle in Abergavenny, Wales, a small, extinct dog peers out of a handmade wooden display case.
“Whiskey is the last surviving specimen of a turnspit dog, albeit stuffed,” says Sally Davis, longtime custodian at the lodge.
The Canis vertigus, or turnspit, was an essential part of every large kitchen in Britain in the 16th century.
The small cooking canine was bred to run in a wheel that turned a roasting spit in cavernous kitchen fireplaces.
“They were referred to as the kitchen dog, the cooking dog or the vernepator cur,” says Caira Farrell, librarian. “The very first mention of them is in 1576 in the first book on dogs ever written.”
The turnspit was bred especially to run on a wheel that turned meat so it would cook evenly. And that’s how the turnspit got its other name: vernepator cur, Latin for “the dog that turns the wheel.”
Back in the 16th century, many people preferred to cook meat over an open fire. Open-fire roasting required constant attention from the cook and constant turning of the spit.
“Since medieval times, the British have delighted in eating roast beef, roast pork, roast turkey,” says , author of Amazing Dogs, a Cabinet of Canine Curiosities, the book that first led us to the turnspit dog.
“They sneered at the idea of roasting meat in an oven. For a true Briton, the proper way was to spit roast it in front of an open fire, using a turnspit dog.”
When any meat was to be roasted, one of these dogs was hoisted into a wooden wheel mounted on the wall near the fireplace. The wheel was attached to a chain, which ran down to the spit.
As the dog ran, like a hamster in a cage, the spit turned.
“Turnspit dogs were viewed as kitchen utensils, as pieces of machinery rather than as dogs,” says Bondeson. “The roar of the fire. The clanking of the spit. The patter from the little dog’s feet. The wheels were put up quite high on the wall, far from the fire in order for the dogs not to overheat and faint.”
Keith Bellows, Editor in Chief, National Geographic Travel
When I was growing up, Quebec City was something of an also-ran compared to Montreal, its brasher, more idiosyncratic sibling and my hometown. My family would often drive the 150 miles up the St. Lawrence River to Quebec City, and as a kid I recall coming away a little underwhelmed. I
t seemed so dutiful and reserved next to the “sin city,” as Montreal was known. Sure, Quebec City could lay claim to a marginally more storied history—symbolized by the star-shaped Citadelle and the once bloody Plains of Abraham, where the British and French clashed over control of what would become Canada. But next to Montreal it lacked panache.
Notre-Dame de Quebec – Photograph by Susan Seubert
No more. These days the cities have reached a comfortable détente over which has the most to offer. They are simply different. Quebec City’s warren of cobblestone streets, hulking Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, and Upper and Lower Towns are backdrop to its francophone fashion shops, chansons echoing off centuries-old cut-stone buildings, and air heavy with thick Québécois accents—a combination that’s unique in all North America. The food has gone from pedestrian to a superbly traditional force of gustatory nature (many dishes draw on local ingredients).
Raclette – Photograph by Susan Seubert
When it turned 400 years old in 2008, Quebec City also seemed to turn a corner. Now it is a truly modern city with old bones. My advice: Learn a little French, try it out on the residents, and you’ll enter a world where the locals will help you unlock the keys to street-level Old France.
An ambitious hobbyist, turned accomplished baker, turned cookbook author steps into her crafting niche by creating a decadent holiday castle.
Christine McConnell, expert baker and architecture-savvy aesthete, completes a massive, intricate gingerbread house. Putting in nearly 270 hours of work spread over 20 days, as well as pounds and pounds of icing, McConnell forms an edible chef d’ oeuvre without a single cardboard support in sight.
Fine-tuned with impeccable detail and realistic, epochal design, the creation towers over typical gingerbread houses with its castle-sized proportions and dark, romantic feel.
All of the ingredients required for the artistic creation include “simple stuff you can find at any grocery store,” McConnell shares. “This project was a huge undertaking for me.
I usually try to limit projects to two weeks, but I got so excited about this that I ended up getting a little carried away.”
“I love architecture,” she continues, “always have. When I was ten years old, I had a dream about a weird house and when I woke up, I had to build it out of cardboard and whatever else I could find, so I guess I’ve been fiddling with this sort of thing for a while.
”Photographs of her edible creations are frequently complimented by the artist wearing her own glamorous fashion designs and deft photo-editing. The artist’s claim to fame bridges many talents, but she’s best known for fashioning astonishing baked goods.
Take a closer look at the gingerbread castle and small accessories, like a chocolate-peppermint reindeer cake and tiny porcupine brownies, which give the composition a new degree of artistry.
McConnell recently released a book of creepy-cute treats accompanied by recipes, entitled Deceptive Desserts.
Christine McConnell shares her recipe for creating your own gingerbread castle in Food.com’s feature of her.