About five years ago I researched my family history to determine if there was any truth to the family rumor that there was Chinese heritage on my father’s side. It turns out that my great-great-grandmother was illegitimate and the father’s name was listed as ‘not known’ on her birth certificate. So it’s still a mystery and my hope that I’d have a cause to celebrate some cultural diversity aside from Irish, Irish and Irish ancestry has been dashed.
When I met Dean I was thrilled to learn that his mother was born in Germany to a Ukrainian father and a Belarusian mother who’d escaped their homelands during World War II. It is as close to familial cultural diversity I am going to get, unless my kids marry a Danish architect or Vietnamese chef….one can only hope.
It’s fascinating to me hearing tales of their homeland and their time as newly arrived migrants to Australia. But the best part has to be hearing about the food; having Dean’s Baba and Guido telling us their secrets to a good cabbage roll (holubsti) or my favourite, potato dumplings, or varenyky as they are known in Ukrainian.
So, I’ve managed a second special lunch out in as many weeks, this time with my mother-in-law. Any feelings of guilt went out the window when I reminded myself that I haven’t had a meal that doesn’t involve ordering a kid’s chicken nuggets and chips plate for many, many months.
Not only that, Bistro Dalby’s Slow Food Month menus come to an end once September rolls around so it was a case of get in now or miss out completely. After looking at the menu, missing out was never going to be an option.
Before we moved to Newcastle, we were juggling full-time work, daycare and traffic jams in Sydney. During that busy time, we were (and still are) so grateful for our family day-carer, Alka. Alka was born in India and together with her husband, Raj, immigrated to Australia so that he could lecture at University (he is a very smart computer programmer). Unable to have children herself, Alka worked in childcare in India and when they moved to Australia, set up her own family day care right around the corner from where we lived, which was such a blessing.
In a quest to explore areas of the Hunter Valley besides Pokolbin, my Mum and I headed off on a road trip last week to Broke, population 540. Word on the street was Margan Estate have marvelous wines and an exceptional restaurant that benefits from a one-acre kitchen garden and free-range chooks, earning it the title of Sustainable Restaurant of the Year, in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide for 2011. So we hopped in the car and headed up the New England Highway for a catch-up over a long lunch.
I should know. Despite being told I should wear gloves to handle nettles, I thought removing a stem or two while wilting them down in a pan couldn’t do too much damage. Oh, how wrong I was. A brush with those little hairs caused my index finger to throb and tingle non-stop for nearly 24-hours. And this is after applying a paste of bi-carb soda and water, which while helping to relieve the pain immensely, eventually wore off. Now every time my left digit hits a key to type this ode to the nettle, I get a little feeling of fizzy tingles that runs from the tip all the way up my finger. I’d hate to ever have the misfortune of falling into a bush of them.