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Australia: The Cookbook by Ross Dobson

Posted by Nigella on the 10th June 2021
Image of Ross Dobson's Chicken Parmi
Photo by Alan Benson

I’m not sure how long Ross Dobson spent researching, writing, and collating the recipes for Australia: The Cookbook, but it is a real tour de force. What’s more, his introduction, which tells the story of eating in Australia, from the cooking of the Australian First Peoples, taking in the impact of the British colonisers, the waves of immigration from China, Greece, Italy, Vietnam, The Lebanon, and all those who have been a part of establishing a rich, lively and multifarious cuisine and the essay that follows it on the subject and scope of Aboriginal Australian Native Bushfood by Jody H Orcher, an Ularai Barkandji woman and director of Wariku Bushfood Infusions, are exemplars of the genre.

It is a huge book, weighing in at just under 1.5 kilos, running to 430 large-format pages, and crammed with recipes. There is Damper Bread and Hamburger with the Lot (which is the — as far as I know — uniquely Australian version, crammed with onion, bacon, pineapple, cheese, tomatoes and beetroot), Jaffles (the Aussie toasted sandwich/grilled cheese) and Pie Floaters; there are Iced Jumbles, Lammingtons, Neenish Tarts, passionfruit-topped Vanilla Slices, Jelly Cakes, Peach Blossom Cake, Ginger Fluff and Pavlova. And yes, I know that New Zealanders lay claim to the pav, too, but it is indisputably as much the Australian dessert as it is a Kiwi classic. And these demonstrate that peculiar mixture of macho and camp that is a feature of a certain kind of Australian cooking tradition. But these pages, too, bring Australian-Chinese Ribs, Dim Sum (aka Dimmies, Down Under), Short Soup (which has wontons in it, as opposed to Long Soup, which has noodles), Lasagne, Pho, Lamb Pide, and Spaghetti Marinara - and I’ve not even skimmed the surface of the ebullient mixture of cuisines and cultures that flavour these pages.

The recipe I’ve chosen to share with you is that Australian pub classic, the Chicken Parmi, the Antipodean iteration of the Chicken Parmo from Middlesborough, and the Italian-American Chicken Parmigiana, although I have to say that Ross Dobson’s version has a little more elegance than might be customary!

Australia: The Cookbook by Ross Dobson is published by Phaidon, £35 (phaidon.com). Photos by Alan Benson.

Book cover of Australia The Cookbook by Ross Dobson

Try this recipe from the book

Image of Ross Dobson's Chicken Parmi
Photo by Alan Benson
Chicken Parmi (Parmigiana)
By Ross Dobson
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