Feb. 2nd, 2012

tevere: ray making 'facepalm' gesture (facepalm)
For his recent birthday, my flatmate received a copy of that esteemed Australian cookery bible (updated for 2012!), The Country Women's Association Classics. Since then, he's been baking his way steadily through its 85 cakes and slices-- a couple of which proved a smash hit at our housewarming, since nothing makes a group of thirty-something Australians excited like lamingtons, copha-based chocolate slices and Salt-n-Pepa. (Although as I and my Indian flatmate pointed out, these aren't so much the tastes of our childhoods as they're the coveted tastes of other people's white-bread-Aussie childhoods, available to us only during school Bake Day sales. When there was the option, my mum would just pay the $20 fine rather than attempting to make something edible out of Coco Pops and hydrogenated coconut fat. Which, in hindsight, was probably the sensible option.)

So while I can get behind the desserts and baking sections of the CWA cookbook, the savouries are something else entirely. I mean, sure, you can tell that a lot of it's mid-century poverty cooking ('Baked Bean Stew', 'Fish Finger Pie'), but some of those recipes are classic candidates for an Australian version of the Gallery of Regrettable Foods (less Jell-O; more copha and canned fish). For sheer WTFery, I think this one remains my favourite:
Malaysian Tuna

This recipe has become a favourite dish with my friends. It is ideal for a luncheon, or an entrée for a dinner party, especially during Lent when fish are scarce!

1 cup rice
1 can tuna
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup plain flour
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 tablespoons chutney
1 can crushed pineapple

Boil or steam the rice until cooked, then drain. Add to the tuna and stir to combine.

Melt the margarine in a saucepan, then stir in the flour. Add the milk and stir until the mixture thickens. Add the remaining ingredients and stir again to combine.

Simmer the mixture in a frying pan until well heated (or place in a casserole dish and bake in a moderate oven). Delicious!

I think the idea is that it's a tuna mornay made 'exotic' with canned pineapple and curry powder? Because I feel fairly confident in saying that the origins of this dish aren't in any Malaysian food item I've ever known.

Reminds me of my mother's stories of her New Zealand host family feeding her rice sandwiches in the 1970s, because that's honestly what they thought Asians ate.

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