PA­TER­NAL

He may not have been much of a gourmet, but I’ll

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - On Sunday - Cook a curry with your dad for Fa­ther’s Day. For in­spi­ra­tion, go to de­li­cious.com.au

never for­get what my dad taught me about food

My fa­ther wasn’t right about a lot of things. He was wrong about the trade union move­ment. He backed the wrong side in the South Moluc­can con­flict (even if they were right). He was wrong about me grow­ing out of my love of fast mu­sic and soc­cer.

He did, how­ever, in­tro­duce me to deep dish pizza, proper burg­ers, pump­kin pie (I think he had an Amer­i­can girl­friend that my mum didn’t ap­prove of and this was his way of nig­gling her), blood-cooked jugged hare, stewed tripe, the de­light of a 19-course Sichuan ban­quet and cur­ries, cur­ries, cur­ries.

He also taught me some rather un­con­ven­tional things about food, such as the joy of fry­ing slabs of Christ­mas pud­ding or rice pud­ding in foam­ing but­ter. For break­fast. Or how de­li­cious it is to put a few drops of Worces­ter­shire sauce on your apri­cot toast. And he taught me how to burn a snag on the bar­be­cue so it was still a lit­tle raw in the mid­dle.

Fair to say he wasn’t much of a cook, but he did have a de­li­ciously warped and sur­pris­ingly suc­cess­ful way with flavour. There were, how­ever, cer­tain things that he ex­celled at. So to mark this day, here are my three favourite things I re­mem­ber Dad mak­ing.

BREAK­FAST: MAR­MALADE AND SAUSAGE SAND­WICHES

The sausage sand­wich is one of the al­most for­got­ten mem­o­ries of my child­hood. Soft, warm white bread and thick, cold but­ter en­tomb­ing split snags lifted singing and siz­zling from the pan. Globs of date-sweet and tamarind­sour brown sauce were the usual but Dad, un­con­ven­tional fel­low that he was, liked smear­ing one side of the bread with dark, chunky or­ange mar­malade in­stead. Ob­vi­ously, they had to be pork sausages for this to work. He also liked to toast the bread for a bit more tex­ture – pi­o­neer and icon­o­clast too.

Try it. It’s a rather fine start to the day. By the way, that mar­malade and sausage com­bi­na­tion is well worth rememberin­g when forced to eat break­fast on an aero­plane.

TEA: MALTED MILKSHAKES

Back in those an­cient days when cig­a­rettes didn’t give you can­cer and the pre­vail­ing para­noia was that Rus­sians were go­ing to mur­der us all in our beds while we slept, wet win­ter af­ter­noons were made more palat­able by watch­ing wrestling on the telly with one of Dad’s chocolate malted milkshakes. This was a rare treat, and dou­bly wel­come as the Rus­sian threat was pal­pa­ble around our house where naval and mil­i­tary at­taches from the Rus­sian em­bassy (aka well-dressed gentle­men who were prob­a­bly from the KGB) were reg­u­lar guests.

To make your own batch of CMMS, melt pretty much half a jar of Hor­licks with as lit­tle boil­ing wa­ter as you can get away with. Blend with cold milk and twice the amount of good vanilla ice cream. Pour into long, chilled glasses and gar­nish with two scoops of chocolate ice cream, rather too many nois­ily crushed Mal­te­sers and a swoosh of whipped cream which prob­a­bly came from a can. This is not a pre­ten­tious milk­shake, or one that ever risks be­ing called a snob down the lo­cal RSL.

Af­ter con­sum­ing, when the de­sire to sleep on the couch in front of the TV wears off (and the im­mense sugar hit has left you drained), go for a long run – per­haps to Perth and back.

In fact, this re­minds me that rather than be­ing on the couch, we’d of­ten drink th­ese hid­ing be­hind it. We were far more fright­ened of the Daleks, Cy­ber­men and Yeti on Doc­tor Who than any of those cold-eyed Rus­sians with their wickedly sharp kind­jals slip­ping silently in­side through a night-time win­dow.

DIN­NER: CURRY NIGHT

I’m not sure ex­actly where Dad’s love of curry came from. It may have stemmed from post-pub, post-work ses­sions with his journo mates or as a sym­bol of his eman­ci­pa­tion when he started univer­sity.

As a kid, curry was a generic thing. The won­der­ful dif­fer­ences of ro­gan joshes, jal­frezis and ko­r­mas were un­known to us. Ba­si­cally, Dad’s curry was rich and meaty. Pretty much any browned meat was cooked down with stock, toma­toes, a few dried red chill­ies and onions that had been fried golden with gar­lic and gin­ger. Oh, and then he added lots of com­mer­cial curry pow­der, which was the turmeric-heavy spice mix peo­ple used be­fore food snobs in­tro­duced us to garam masala.

Serve it with sliced ba­nanas, sul­tanas (how ’70s!) and thick Greek yo­ghurt mixed with lightly salted and drained diced cu­cum­ber on the side, like he did. And don’t for­get the mango chut­ney, pap­padams and lime pickle.

Be­sides th­ese dishes, my fa­ther also taught me that if you worked do­ing some­thing you were ob­sessed with, then you would never re­ally ‘ work’ a day in your life. I didn’t ap­pre­ci­ate that when he was alive. Yet now, af­ter 20 years spent writ­ing about some­thing I love, I do. Thanks, Dad.

MATT PRE­STON

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