Un-traditional Anzac biscuits4 min read

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Anzac Day 1964 was a special day.

I can’t say that I remember the details of what we did that day, but I can guess, as we did it most years. In the morning, we made the 35 minute trip to our tiny town to participate in the Anzac Day ceremonies. I was in primary school then and it was normal for all the school kids to march with the veterans and their families. This was followed by a sombre memorial service at the local RSL club. Then it was time for us kids to go and play while the adults talked over stories of the wars.

Today is Anzac Day 2014…50 years later.

I’ve not been to a march, or a memorial service today. I’ve just caught glimpses of the Sydney march and ceremonies as I’ve done other things. And from time to time I’ve been thinking about what Anzac Day means to us in 2014.

Just a week ago it was Easter so I can’t help but reflect. In fact both Easter and Anzac Day are times for reflection. One a reflection on the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, the other the sacrifice made by many young soldiers for the freedom of our nation. Both hugely significant.

Communities usually develop traditions around music, symbols, activities and foods. And as they grow and develop these traditions change.  In recent times our traditions change hugely in response to marketing. I mean, what’s with selling hot cross buns in the supermarkets the week after Christmas? That’s three and a half months of lead up to Easter!!! Crazy. And this week there have been displays of fancy tins of Anzac biscuits on the shelves in shops.

For many Easter has become known as the `Chocolate Season’, with chocolate the major food group consumed.  We used to only have chocolate on Easter Sunday. And it was those small, empty chocolate eggs that symbolised the empty tomb of Jesus on Easter morning. Now it’s become an everyday thing…no longer a luxury, or even just a special occasion food.

But Anzac biscuits were meant to be an every day food. Have a look at how they began here . (There’s even a recipe for the good old original Anzac biscuits on that site too.) They were not something that was brought out to `celebrate’ Anzac Day, or in honour of that special day. When I was a child we always had Anzacs in the biscuit tin, and so did most families I knew.

Anzac Day is about many things, but

  • We don’t say `Happy Anzac Day’…it’s not meant to be a happy day, it’s a day to remember those who have died
  • Anzac Day is one of our more serious holidays in the Australian calendar.
  • We don’t have parties
  • We don’t celebrate
  • We don’t give gifts
  • Nor do we bake Anzac `cookies’…They’re `biscuits’ in Australia, and not necessarily specifically just about Anzac Day.
  • Us Aussies do love a good Anzac biscuit – every day

`The Anzac spirit of courage under fire, selflessness and unwavering loyally, tenacity and mate ship was forged in the battles of Gallipoli. The legend of our Anzacs has transcended time to become a symbol of what we value as Australians.’

I think that Anzac Day may be one of the few holidays that has not become focussed mainly around huge meals with specific foods, and parties.

Many people have asked me to develop a paleo/primal version of Anzac biscuits, but it hasn’t happened. Today I was asking myself why not? I’m usually right ready to rise to such a challenge.  I hadn’t really thought about that until today but I think this might be my reasons…

  • Anzac biscuits are not a food that is limited to Anzac day. They’re not a special occasion food. They were originally a staple food for soldiers, and became a staple food for many Aussie households (including ours).
  • You can’t have Anzac biscuits without rolled oats
  • You can’t have Anzac biscuits without golden syrup – no, honey, corn syrup, and other substitutes don’t work. (Well….maybe treacle is OK, but only in an emergency)
  • You can’t have Anzac biscuits with chocolate chips or dried fruits added, or dipped in chocolate.  That’s just wrong!!!
  • Anything but the real deal is fake!!

Yep. I’m a die hard when it comes to Anzac biscuits!!

But…for those who must have something, Jo Whitton at Quirky Cooking has come to your rescue. She uses spelt flour and rolled oats or quinoa flakes, and it is written for the Thermomix. Go on over to her blog and grab her recipe.

Meanwhile I have to leave you with the most well-known verses of the poem `For the Fallen’ by Laurence Binyon

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

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