Thursday, 16 December 2010

Food & politics: Tony Bilson and The Intervention: Evelyn Bilson and her Christmas Pudd


There's nothing like mixing politics and food.  My Aunt Bina used to mix her Marxism with interior decoration and dressmaking.  Thanks to Cheryl and Michele for passing on this letter of protest from well-known Sydney chef, Tony Bilson, to Jenny Macklin the Minister responsible for the horrors of the Intervention.  

As well, I am taking the opportunity because of the Season to pass on a recipe for Christmas Pudding.  Behind every great man is a mother and behind Tony Bilson (Bilson's)  is his mother Evelyn who makes the most wonderful Pudd.  I have Evelyn Bilson's recipe from the Good Living magazine of The Sydney Morning Herald of Nov 23-Nov29 1999.  The recipe was republished at a reader's request from Good Weekend sometime in 1995. I make Evelyn's Pudd and highly commend it. Tony is serving the Pudd on his Christmas Lunch menu at his wine bar number one.  

So first, Tony's letter; then Evelyn's wonderful Pudd. BTW, the links inserted in the text are done by me.
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----- Original Message -----
From: Tony Bilson
Sent: Saturday, October 30, 2010 3:19 PM
Subject: Indigenous Racial Disrimination Act and NT Intervention

Dear Minister,

I write as an extremely concerned Labor supporter of many years standing.

I have been working with the One Laptop Per Child organisation and other activities including a dinner in Parramatta to celebrate Indigenous culture at the time of Govenor Macquarie.

My time spent with the Yolngu in Arnhem Land and on the homelands has given me the highest degree of respect for the complexity and moral strength of their culture.

I am currently involved in two programs to try to promote their culture in a contemporary context.

One is with Professor Bob Holman of Columbia University NY who will be coming out to Australia to work with Yolngu poets and musicians to formulate a celebration of Alan Ginsberg's time spent with them in 1972 for the 'Ginsberg Year' next year. From this collaboration will emerge a celebration to tour here and the USA.

Secondly I am doing a small Australian cultural/trade festival in Dhaka, Bangladesh for two weeks in February featuring new music from Yolngu musicians.

At the same time I have been working with financial benefactors to provide training at the highest technological levels to allow the production and export of high quality food products from the community at Yirrkala.

My wife Amanda and I attended last night a screening of the film Our Generation, produced by Sinem Saban and Damien Curtis and were shocked by the proposals of the 'intervention' and the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act.

We had previously been totally unaware of the campaign of falsehoods used to justify the intervention policy of the previous Liberal and Labor Governments and the cynical misuse of accusations of systemic pederasty to justify this inhumane and socially destructive policy. We now know these accusations were totally without foundation. A lie of Goebellian proportions.

We appeal to you in the strongest possible terms to abandon this policy and to institute a genuine dialogue with Indigenous representatives of the communities so as to guarantee theintegrity and continuity of their culture.

If you have not seen the film I ask that you do so as a matter of urgency. Here is the link : www.ourgeneration.org

Please Minister do not let our nation be further shamed by these proposals to treat our Indigenous peoples and cultures with what may be a final blow to their very continuity - in a word, genocide.

Yours sincerely

Tony and Amanda Bilson

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Evelyn Bilson's Christmas Pudding
(serves 12)
Ingredients:
1 and 1/2 cups suet
3/4 cup plain flour, sifted
1/2 cup almond meal
4 cups soft breadcrumbs
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
4 and a half cups mixed fruit (raisin, sultanas, currants, figs)
1/3 cup mixed peel
1/2 cup stout
4 eggs
2 tablespoons marmalade
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 fresh tart apple, grated
4 tablespoons of rum or cognac
1/4 cup plain flour, sifted.

Method:
Rub suet into the flour and add remaining dry ingredients.  Mix well.  Add stout, stir in eggs and add marmalade.  Add lemon zest, juice, and apple and finally the rum or cognac.  Let stand in a cool place overnight for the flavours to amalgamate.  Take a wet pudding cloth (use a 75cm square of unbleached calico) and wring it out.  Sprinkle liberally with the extra flour and place the pudding on top.  This helps give the pudding a better skin.  Gather corners and sides of the cloth around the pudding and pull tightly to give it a good, round shape. Tie tightly with string about 2.5cm above the top of the pudding to allow for expansion.  Steam pudding in a bowl sitting in boiling water in a large saucepan for 4 hours and then hang it in the pantry for at least 2 weeks, until Christmas.  This pudding must not touch anything. In hot weather, it is better to store it in the refrigerator. 
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