Australia Day has always left me feeling a little cold. A little un-celebratory. I just don't feel good about people getting psyched up to celebrate the day that a bunch of English people decided the culture and lives of thousands of others were worth nothing.
I don't think it is just me.
I appreciate how lucky I am to live in this country. If you are white and well educated, it's a pretty good place to live. If you are white, rich and well connected it's a fucking fabulous place to live. If you are anything else it's a bit more of a struggle. You will have to work harder than other people. You will have to spend a lot of time trying to prove yourself, your worth. You will get overlooked. You will be judged based on what you look like, you will probably feature in some incredibly insulting and childish 'jokes'- coming from adults who think they are very clever indeed. It is these people, these people who start sentences with 'I'm no racist but...', these people with bumper stickers honourably proclaiming 'AUSTRALIA: if you don't love it, leave!'... These are the people getting psyched up on Australia Day. These are the people who make me feel a little bit sick.
I do love Australia. It is a beautiful, arresting, naturally incredible place. Physically. The one thing I would change? Some/most/a lot of? the people. To live in a country where people are respected, when they deserve to be so. To live in a country which celebrates the amazing, ancient indigenous culture of which it is the very essence, rather than making childish jokes about it. Damn it, to live in a country where people respect the wilderness, the natural world, where the people in charge are intelligent and forward thinking and not all white, middle-class Boy's Club man-children who love money and reaaallllllllyyyyy just want America to like them.
God, that'd be nice.
This earth though, the physical place called Australia. She holds a very real place in my heart. This country has real power, and it isn't in the board rooms. It is in the enormous wild bushfires, the floods, the intense heat and amazing cold of desert days and nights. The sheer space is power itself, for lost out in the middle of vastness, you would not doubt for one second the control the land has over you. There is no taming this country, though we will try. We will build cities, put in temperature control systems, try to conquer the land as they tried to do with the people upon 'first' settlement, instead of learning from those who knew that this land will not be controlled. You need to move to her rhythm, submit and lean into her flow.
You only need to go inward, even a little, to see how easy it would be to disappear completely, into this land. She broods and rages, unpredictably, and that is her power.
It is something you miss, when you leave. There is real, raw beauty in this country.
"...at first blush Australia connotes something non-human. Of course the genius of indigenous culture is unquestionable, but even this is overshadowed by the scale and insistence of the land that inspired it. Geography trumps all. It's logic underpins everything. And after centuries of European settlement it persists, for no post-invasion achievement, no city nor soaring monument can compete with the grandeur of the land."
Tim Winton, Island Home.
There is also a rather more light-hearted beauty in some of the things to come out of this country. Like Golden Gaytimes. An ice-cream championing toffee, chocolate and biscuits, still sold in the corner shops of today, that was first introduced to the eager public in 1959 with the slogan "You can't have a Gaytime on your own!".
I like that. Never was a huge fan of the actual treat though- they were always my Dad's pick on the ice-cream run, I was more a Frosty Fruits/Weis Bar girl myself. But this reinvented soft-serve sundae version? Well the alliteration alone had me sold, but they also taste pretty sweet. And yes, I do mean both figuratively and literally. If you don't like sugar, you are in the wrong corner of the internet my friend.
I would certainly not recommend having a golden gaytime soft-serve sundae on your own. But they are perfect Top 30 treats to share with your mates on Hottest 100 Day, as tomorrow is known by me. And while you've got all your mates together, eating sundaes and having a lark, why not place some bets on song positions and donate the winnings to AIME, a pretty sweet organisation working to close the gap in education between white and indigenous children.
Happy Hottest 100/Gaytime Sundae Day!
golden gaytime soft serve sundae.
There are four elements to this sweet sundae. For the soft serve, go to this clever lady and her wisdom will guide you through (the only thing I changed was adding a vanilla bean in the warming stage, and leaving it in the freezer a little longer simply cos I am unorganised- it was still delicious).
Bash up some of the malt biscuits and set aside.
Lay some baking paper on a flat surface, or spread a thin layer of oil over the surface.
Make the toffee by heating an amount (1-2 cups) of sugar over a medium heat, stirring frequently, until it has melted. Once melted, stir continuously until the toffee is golden amber, and crackles when you drop some into a glass of cold water. Take it off the heat immediately and pour onto your prepared non-stick surface. Smooth and flatten. Once set- this will happen pretty quickly- snap into shards.
Make the fudge sauce: Combine the chocolate, Ovaltine, molasses/treacle and salt in a bowl.
Combine the glucose, sugar and cream in a heavy bottomed saucepan and stir occasionally, while bringing to the boil over a high heat. The moment it boils, pour it over the chocolate and leave it to sit for one minute- no cheating, one minute!
Slowly, begin to whisk the mixture. Whisk, with ever increasing vigour, until the sauce is thick, glossy and beautifully smooth (this will take between 2-4 minutes).
Use immediately or keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.
To make the glorious whole:
Pipe some just 'churned' ice-cream into a little cup, top with some small toffee shards, crumbled biscuit and swirls of fudge sauce. You could reheat the sauce to make it gooey and you could make layers of elements for extra decadence, the floor is yours. Crown the whole thing with a large toffee shard and, goddammit, use that toffee shard as your spoon.
(for all but the ice-cream)
for the fudge sauce (which comes courtesy
of Momofuku Milkbar):
30g 72% dark chocolate
40g malt flavour Ovaltine
1/2 tsp molasses/treacle
pinch of salt
55g thick cream