I set out to use cooking to change attitudes towards blindness and other disabilities – and China showed me how well this works. Last week with aboriginal Fred, simply cooking a fish together was a bridge between our very different cultures. This week, gastronomically diverse Melbourne showed that great cooks and chefs aren’t constrained by issues of race, nationality, ethnicity, disability, gender or other false barriers: food is all about generosity, sharing, learning from each other, crossing culinary borders and using the best ideas and ingredients, whatever their source. The Greek “Euro Bites” eatery was a prime example (www.eurobites.com.au).
It was a special treat to encounter new ingredients and equipment: gastronome Charlene (https://www.facebook.com/charlene.trist) used smoked fresh eggs in both the pasta and the filling of her ravioli dish – these eggs have long shelf-life and would be ideal in a savoury soufflé, kedgeree and much more. The Chef’s Hat emporium (www.chefshat.com.au) offered every sort of cooking equipment. Food writer Dani (www.danivalent.com) introduced me to the widely popular Thermomix to produce fluffily delicious bread rolls in under an hour. I’d been rather sceptical about the prospect of just filling an éclair until I spent time with Dre, an amazingly entrepreneurial pastry chef who is already expanding her patisserie and restaurant empire (www.bibelot.com.au). Maribel, who is also blind (www.maribelsteel.com), was utterly inspirational: already a published writer and travel blogger, she is a wonderful cook, singer and champion for visually impaired people – you can hear her and partner Harry (www.springstudio.com.au) on the Melbourne video.
We were hosted by the Bostock family: another link to the Royal Navy and James Holman (after whom the prize that is funding me is named). Former Royal Navy Commander Colin also arranged for me to spend a morning with the Australian Defence Force catering and hospitality trainees at Holmesglen college (www.holmesglen.edu.au) – another military reminder. The Bostocks were unstinting in their generosity and friendship while daughter Sarah shared her knowledge on indigenous culture.
Following that trail, we moved on to Perth to meet up with Lynda, a former Women’s Royal Naval Service officer, who took us to the Maalinup aboriginal art gallery and bush tucker garden (www.www.maalinup.com.au) to meet artist PhilNarkle (www.philnarkle.com.au). Now we have some small authentic artefacts to share with those who can only follow our adventures from afar.
And great news on the Australian equality agenda: a strong turn-out has just voted Yes to same-sex marriage: the people have spoken!
All of this is part of my adventure cooking around six continents funded by the international Holman prize run by San Francisco’s LightHouse for the Blind. You can see the short composite videos we post at the end of each visit and, when we have had a chance to edit all the material back in the UK, we will be posting all the cooking sessions and recipes in the New Year.
Malawi next – if South African Airways can find an aircraft that works (we have a 24 hour delay in Perth)