It’s Australia Day today. I did all I could to spread the Australia Day cheer. I couldn’t let my friends and family here in Norway be completely oblivious. I got questions like ‘what do you do’ (answer: we go to the beach!) and ‘what happened on this day’ (answer: the First Fleet (11 convict ships from England) landed in Australia (to start a convict settlement). For the first time, the reason why Aussies commemorated this day seemed rather odd. Aussies like to laugh about how silly the English were giving up a tropical island with sun, sand and surf to convicts instead of immigrating themselves.
It was really hard to celebrate today when nobody knew about Australia Day. I felt like I was having a party and I was the only one invited. There are about 10 other Aussies living in Tromsø at any one time (according to the 2006 Tromsø immigrant stats) but as most of them only stay for a school term it is hard to keep track. I realised today that if I want to keep my Australian traditions I am the one to remember and make things happen in our family. It would be too easy not to celebrate my traditions. If I want my kids to grow up half Australian then I can’t let laziness get in the way. So even though today wasn’t beach weather (in fact, there was a coastal storm big enough to be named ‘Ask’ – after the Norse ‘Adam’ from Adam and Eve) I decided to make Aussie comfort food. With a bit of adjustment to Norwegian ingredients, the food didn’t turn out half bad.
In Australia we have the famous meat pie – ground beef in a gravy sauce wrapped in a pastry shell. It is very common to have mushy peas on top or mashed potato, and of course, dead horse (tomato sauce). They don’t actually have pies in Norway. The only real pastries are Danish custard pastries but other than that pastry isn’t really used in Norwegian cuisine. So, I had to make do and Norwegianise our Aussie dinner. The result – and open meat pie with a loose puff pastry hat, and mash potato and mushy peas on the side. For desert was cream filled lamington cakes – vanilla cake coated in a chocolate sauce and rolled in desiccated coconut. How Australian can you get!