26 January is one day of the year where everyone in Australia is expected to watch the cricket, wave (or walk around in) tacky souvenirs, read the paper and discover that there is such a thing as the Australia Day Honours List, and sing along very badly to 80s hits like Men At Work’s “Land Downunder”. It’s also a day off work that ends in fireworks.
The eternal question of ‘what makes an Australian, an Australian?’ is raised every year, a definition which is problematic due to our increasingly multicultural society. As a nation, we have different coloured skin, languages and religions: we variously celebrate Christmas and Eid al-Fitr and Hanukkah and sport (inevitably cricket and/or AFL football).
Australia Day is also a day of beer, barbecues and Aussie food icons including Tim Tams, macadamias, Vegemite [one of my very first posts includes a recipe for roasting chicken with Vegemite], pies with tomato sauce, and lamingtons [for an icecream variation, follow this link].
Over the last few years, lamb has been branded as the food to eat on Australia Day and, according to advertising from Meat & Livestock Australia, not eating lamb is an ‘un-Australian’ gesture. I love the taste of lamb — and thankfully I missed 100% of this year’s annoying advertising campaign or I might have actively avoided purchasing last night’s lamb.
Seeking inspiration for dinner, I spotted the lamb loin in the fridge. I rubbed in a generous quantity of Dijon mustard and pressed on English spinach leaves before wrapping the loin in bacon. I served it with roasted fennel, sweet corn on the cob, garlic mash, and a gravy made from the pan juices. In spite of my poor carving skills (and the last-minute decision to take a happy snap), it was a most delicious meal.
So back to Australia Day. What does being Australian mean to me? It means approaching life with a sense of humour, being fair, honest and tolerant, always doing my best, tackling challenges head-on, helping others when I can. It is these shared traits that make me proud to be Australian.
Have an absolutely awesome Australia Day, wherever you are in the world!