It’s State of Origin season! Whether you live in Queensland or New South Wales, or simply watch the games from other locations, it is a time to reflect on where we came from and to enjoy some classic fast food like pies, sausage rolls and beer – classic Aussie fare!
By Jeremy Ryland
Now most people assume that “fast food” is a modern phenomenon – an insidious effect of our current fast lifestyles. We like to think nostalgically about a time when families and friends met to relax over a delicious “slow” meal. However, far from being an invention of the late twentieth century, fast food has been part of every society. In the past, hunters, fisherman, shepherds, soldiers, farmers and others all needed food that could be eaten quickly and carried with them, away from home.
City dwellers particularly have always relied on fast food. The ancient Romans could buy honey cakes and sausages in the Forum, while the ancient Greeks purchased barley cakes around the Acropolis. When the Spanish discovered Mexico, they found tacos and deep-fried “churros” from street vendors. In twelfth century Hangchow, the Chinese could get noodles, stuffed buns and deep-fried confections. Deep-fried foods were expensive and dangerous to prepare at home but had their place on the street, for example, doughnuts in Europe, andagi in Okinawa and sev in India. Samosas, spring rolls, kebabs, sausages, pies, filled breads and pickles are all examples of traditional “fast foods”.
Contrary to current media hype, fast food need not be bad for us. Since we rarely survive on a single food product, it is incorrect to isolate individual foods as being good or bad. It is our total diet that is important.
Nutritionists tell us that there are no bad foods – just bad diets. A nutritionally balanced diet should include a variety of vegetables, fruits and grains, a small amount of meat and can also include small indulgences such as chocolate, fried foods and other tasty morsels.
There are some foods that are not good for us if consumed too often or in large amounts and there are some foods that have little or no nutritional content that should be avoided. Most “bad” or unhealthy food is; however, good food eaten in an inappropriate way. Good nutrition is not about whether a food is fast or slow, or high in fat or sugar. It is about balance, moderation and choice – and enjoyment.
State of Origin is about rivalry and history. It harks back to the original Olympic games in Athens, the gladiators of Ancient Rome and the tournaments of Medieval Europe. And it is about us… where we come from and the tribes to which we belong. Whether Blue or Maroon – we are all Aussies. We live in the best country in the world – a multicultural society free of many of the problems in other parts of the world. Sure, there are tensions and issues, but overall, we still live in the Lucky Country. And we enjoy one of the best, most varied cuisines in the world.
Our food is the food of our pioneers – the original Indigenous society, British convicts and colonists, Chinese gold hunters, European and Asian refugee migrants, other displaced migrants and people who just want to be here. Like State of Origin, Aussie cuisine is a blend of cultures – borrowing styles, techniques and recipes from around the world and adapting them to our regional climates, local produce and varied tastes.
Celebrate your origins, enjoy the games, cheer on your side and enjoy some fast food in moderation. Food should be a pleasure. Eat less. Eat better. Share your meals with others. Enjoy!