Monday Macro

As part of his cafe racer motorcycle re-building project, the Big T has acquired a few old Automobile Association badges, including one that belonged to his grandfather.

You can’t see it in this shot, but each is stamped with an individual number. The historian in me is keen to find out if we can attach the numbers to individuals. An email to the AA is in order I think.

DP Photo Challenge: against the odds

Modern-day Aucklanders against backdrop of b&w image of Auckland's past. Image: Su Leslie, 2015

What are the chances, eh? Twenty-first century Aucklanders present at the official opening of Cornwall Park in 1903. Image: Su Leslie, 2015.

While actual time-travel remains in the realm of science fiction, photography and film do give visual glimpses into the past. The black and white photo above (1) is of the official opening of Auckland’s Cornwall Park in 1903. The white-haired man on the balcony is Sir John Logan Campbell, one of Auckland’s wealthiest and most prominent early citizens. In 1901 he had gifted the park –comprising 230 acres of his estate — to the city.

Cornwall Park is still one of the largest and most popular parks in Auckland. It includes the volcano Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill), the summit of which is the resting place of Logan Campbell, who died in 1912 aged 94.

Daily Post Photo Challenge | against the odds

 


(1) Photo of Cornwall Park opening, 1903. Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 7-A253.

Defining nationhood: we are what we eat?

anzacs on tray

Cheap and easy to make, delicious to eat. If they make it into a biscuit tin in our house, it means the boys are unwell.

First of all, thanks to Seonaid at Breathofgreenair for inspiring me to write this post with her comment about Anzac biscuits on my recent post about Anzac Day and remembrance in New Zealand and Australia.

For those of you who don’t know –  Anzac biscuits (think cookies North American readers) –  are a delicious sweet biscuit made with flour, rolled oats, coconut, butter, sugar and golden syrup. Legend has it that the biscuits are so named because they were sent by women in Australia and New Zealand to their men-folk serving in World War I.

From what I can gather, this isn’t quite true; the ANZAC troops were issued with an army biscuit (known at the time as a ANZAC wafer or ANZAC tile), but this bears no relation to the biscuit we know now, and according to the Australian War Memorial website:

is essentially a long shelf-life, hard tack biscuit, eaten as a substitute for bread. Unlike bread, though, the biscuits are very, very hard. Some soldiers preferred to grind them up and eat as porridge.

It seems that the first recipe for the biscuit we know today appeared in 1921, according to Professor Helen Leach, of the Archaeology Department of the University of Otago:

The combination of the name Anzac and the recipe now associated with it first appeared in the 9th edition of St Andrew’s Cookery Book (Dunedin, 1921) under the name “Anzac Crispies”. Subsequent editions renamed this “Anzac Biscuits” and Australian cookery books followed suit.

ANZAC biscuits are commercially available in Australia and New Zealand, but frankly I don’t know why anyone would bother to buy these when they are so cheap, easy and quick to make. In fact, here’s a recipe.

Anzac Biscuits*

1 cup flour

1 cup white sugar

1 ¾ cups desiccated coconut (the coarsely shredded type is great for texture)

1 ½ cups rolled oats

100g butter

2 tablespoons golden syrup

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons boiling water

 NB: this recipe also specifies ¼ cup chopped walnuts, but these are not traditional and I tend to omit them

 Preheat the over to 160 degrees Celsius. Mix the flour, sugar, coconut and rolled oats in a bowl.

Melt the butter and golden syrup together.

Stir the baking soda into the boiling water, then mix the butter and baking soda mixtures together (NB: either do this in a new bowl, or make sure you’ve melted the butter in a large pan as the mixture bubbles up. I find that adding the baking soda to the butter then immediately pouring this over the dry ingredients works fine).

Combine wet and dry ingredients thoroughly.

Roll teaspoonfuls of the mixture (NB: I use a dessert spoon for bigger biscuits) into balls and place on well-greased or baking-paper-lined oven tray.

 Press flat, allowing room for them to spread.

Bake for 25-30 minutes (NB: maybe my oven is hotter, but I find they are cooked after 15-20 minutes – even the larger biscuits I make).

Cool on a wire rack and store in an air-tight container.

* This recipe comes from Jo Seagar’s All Things Nice. Random House, Auckland, 2002.

coffee and anzacs2

Latte and biscuits. I didn’t actually eat both of them; that’s just my attempt at food styling.

Defining nationhood

Strange Fruit, by Turtle Donna Sarten at the Academy of Fine Arts, Wellington.

Strange Fruit, by Turtle Donna Sarten at the Academy of Fine Arts, Wellington.

It was ANZAC Day last Wednesday (25th April). Outside of Australia and New Zealand (and increasingly the UK, for reasons I’ll explain later), not many people have heard of ANZAC Day. Fewer still understand what is all about.

Here in the Antipodes, ANZAC Day is possibly the most significant NATIONAL holiday we have. National in the sense of being specific to our country – rather than a reflection of our wider cultural adherence to broadly Christian festivals like Christmas and Easter.

I know that the Australians also have Australia Day and we New Zealanders have Waitangi Day; both of which commemorate events that represent the beginnings of the formalisation of European dominance over the indigenous peoples of the two countries. But increasingly ANZAC Day has come – for many on both sides of the Tasman – to better represent each country’s sense of nationhood.

I’m going to quote Wikipedia here, because it’s a pretty succinct account of what ANZAC Day is:

Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served.”[1][2]

The date is the day, in 1915, when Australian and New Zealand troops landed, as part of the Allied Expeditionary Force, on the Gallipoli Peninsula in what is now Turkey, in an attempt to capture it from the troops of the Ottoman Empire, which was allied with Germany in World War I.

Gallipoli was a monumental military cock-up. Instead of the envisaged swift, decisive Allied victory, fighting continued for eight months before those Allied troops left alive were evacuated. Forty four thousand (44,000) Allied troops died at Gallipoli (from the British Empire and France); eighty seven thousand (87,000) Turkish troops also lost their lives. For two relatively under-populated countries in the Pacific, the 8,500 Australians and 2,721 New Zealanders who died represented an enormous loss (remember too, that thousands more were fighting and dying in muddy battlefields in France also).

ANZAC Day then, has come to symbolise a moment in time when two of Britain’s newer colonies felt themselves emerge as distinct nations – shaped and scarred by terrible suffering.

When I was a child, ANZAC Day was a public holiday, but most people I knew regarded it as little more than a welcome day off work. Those who attended the dawn parades seemed to mainly be returned servicemen and women, their families and those in the military.

Ironically, the further we have travelled from the actual Gallipoli landing, the more people feel the need to remember. There are no WWI veterans left to take part in the parades and services; and dwindling numbers of WWII veterans. Now it is their descendants who rise before dawn, pin the medals of grandfathers and great grandfathers onto their own or their children’s chests and go out in the cold to take part in increasingly well-attended commemorations that are held all around the country. That includes the small city-fringe community I live in, where the gates of the local park serve as a war memorial, naming the dozen or so farm boys who left very rural Greenhithe to go to war but did not return.

ANZAC commemorations have traditionally also taken place at ANZAC Cove itself, and increasingly in the UK as young Kiwis and Aussies on their OE (overseas experience) join with other ex-pats to remember not only the sacrifice of their forefathers, but affirm their own cultural identity.

2015 will be the centenary of Gallipoli. Already it’s been announced that there will be a ballot for places at the ceremony at Anzac Cove, such is the interest amongst Antipodeans young and old. In Auckland where I live, the mayor has announced a programme of remembrance, which includes funding for memorials, museum exhibitions and events. New Zealand – and likely Australia too – are preparing themselves for a momentous occasion.

While interest and participation in ANZAC Day has grown, there has always been discomfort with the notion of defining nationhood in terms of military sacrifice. Amongst other things, it highlights the way different conflicts have been perceived – something that’s central to the beautiful and moving installation, Strange Fruit, by Turtle Donna Sarten, currently  at the Academy of Fine Arts in Wellington.

I’ve written about this installation in another blog, so won’t repeat myself here except to say that Strange Fruit consists of 3890 military dog tags; each of which has been hand-inscribed with the name of one of the New Zealanders who served in Vietnam during the period 1964-72.

Unlike in earlier conflicts, Vietnam veterans did not return home to parades celebrating their sacrifice. They experienced the embarrassment, silence and sometimes hostility of a public which had comprehensively turned against the war. In New Zealand, veterans have lobbied tirelessly  for recognition not only of their service, but even more importantly, of the physical and psychological damage they suffered – including exposure to the defoliant Agent Orange and PTSD.

Detail: Strange Fruit by Turtle Donna Sarten.

Detail: Strange Fruit by Turtle Donna Sarten.

In the stillness of a stark white gallery, Donna Sarten has invited visitors to contemplate war and sacrifice and remembrance, through the lens of a recent conflict that in many ways divided this country as much as World War One united it, and perhaps re-defined our sense of nationhood as much as Gallipoli originally formed it.