Bankstown Pressure Cooks final cook-off was today. You may have seen some publicity during the week, even heard Shaista Khan talking to Deb Cameron on 702 Mornings.
I was drawn into the vortex, ferrying chairs and other equipment yesterday as well as providing amateur tech help, then today acting as marshal (because the Centro shopping centre insisted that there be marshals lest the fifty or so people who turned up disrupt the Saturday morning shoppers), getting the Powerpoint program to run, and generally being helpful.
It was a terrific event. The competing teams had to cook a salmon dish in a cuisine that was outside their own heritage. In earlier rounds, Lebanese entrants had cooked Thai, Chinese had cooked European pastries. Today, the stretch wasn’t so great: ‘Hot and Spicy’, a Chinese couple cooked Thai, and the Maltese ‘Crazy Daisies’ cooked Italian. But it was far enough to satisfy the judges, and a fabulous nailbiting time was had by all. The local member and the mayor were there. The specially and expensively installed electricity didn’t work, so someone rushed out to buy electric frying pans. The four cooks didn’t seem to miss a beat. ‘Hot and Spicy’ won by a whisker.
The mood was great. Lots of hijabs were in evidence, though it’s the second day of Eid l-‘Aḍḥā and presumably the hijab wearers had plenty of cooking of their own to do at home. Apart from the inadequate electricity, the only thing approaching a sour note was the two tables of elderly Greek men who evidently meet in that particular spot every Saturday morning to drink coffee, read the newspapers, gossip, argue, finger their beads. They paid casual attention to our goings-on, but clearly weren’t going to budge from their routine: if it could survive transplanting from the Aegean to western Sydney, then no fuss about cooking was going to cause it to falter.
My recent reading prompted me to reflect that this is the utter catastrophe that White Australia was desperately trying to protect us from.