Cooking for all of us is part necessity and part fun. I tend to see what ingredients I have, or which are cheap and plentiful, and work out what to cook from there. Mostly I find recipes stressful, although they often distill centuries of knowledge about food and what goes with what. Consequently, every so often I’ll use them to go in a new direction or to work out how to do something, and once I’ve understood the principles behind the combination, or the technique, then I like to extrapolate.
When I started cooking I was a vegetarian, so what I cooked had little to do with the family meals I’d had as a child. Not having much money, meant working out what to do with what you had. Pancakes, halva (semolina and raisins fried in butter), and dahl were popular fillers. Later I lived without refrigeration using dried and canned foods. Chinese grocers are chocked with such foods. I became caught up in the idea, that somehow, by changing what you eat, you could ‘change the world.’
Many things were turned on their head after moving to the Alice Springs in the late 1980’s. Growing broccoli suddenly seemed far more environmentally reckless than eating beef or kangaroo, a point so succinctly made by some traditional Aboriginal people from Wingellina who were camping in our garden. Being a vegetarian I turned down their highly generous offer of bush turkey (bustard), given in appreciation for us having let them stay. These old men incredulously proclaimed it was ‘proper vegeterian tucker this one’, as bustards don’t eat meat!
Now I live in Mt Hotham, and sometimes it is a month or more between visits to the Woolworths in Bright. I’ve become adept at improvisation and using what I have, after many years of cooking that way. I’ve become increasingly interested in recipes that are beguilingly simple. This has coincided with an increasing interest in my Swiss heritage.
Traditional Swiss food is close to one of the most basic around relying upon potatoes, flour, dairy and fruit. It reflects the historical isolation and poverty of the country.
I’ve become bored with critiquing food as entertainment and our obsession with stating our differences through the food we consume, or the type of beer we drink. To me, you are not suddenly more interesting because you prefer an exotic Asian soup over a T-Bone. But then if I was honest I’d have to confess that my choice to cook simple food, being a reaction to the indulgence of our times, is as much a food statement as any other.
I’ve put on this blog some of my favourites, things I cook often, plus a few that I like because they challenge preconceptions about what food should be. I’ve divided them into Swiss and General. You won’t find anything particularly gourmet, but I can almost guarantee, that if you visited and ate these dishes, you would leave satisfied.