Posts Tagged ‘coconut’

Searching for ANZACs

Monday, April 28th, 2014

April is great. It is one of the months of the year that brings GFE (Great Food Eating) opportunities – something I greatly appreciate. Last week I was gorging myself on hot cross buns of both the fruit and chocolate variety. These were backed up by Easter eggs that, while over priced for the cost-to-grams-of-chocolate-ratio, offer such a good excuse for chocolate eating. It would be inappropriate not to eat another Cadbury’s Creme egg – it would hurt the Easter Bunny’s feelings.

Then came ANZAC Day on the 25th April. This year marks the start of the centenary of World War I, an event that has increased in significance for me since moving to England and learning more about my great grandfather. Having a personal connection with the war offers a new level of meaning and it has been quite an emotional discovery for me. So I felt it gravely important to bake Australia’s most significant biscuit in honour of the ANZACs and my great grandfather.

I have now baked ANZACs in three different countries – Australia, France and England. For obvious reasons, sourcing the required ingredients in Australia is a breeze. Every supermarket stocks the required products just in case someone is feeling the urge to bake buttery balls of oaty goodness. No problemo.

France was a challenge; golden syrup is not an ingredient that is frequently used in French cuisine and sourcing a jar of the sticky, sweet syrup was difficult. While it was frustrating, I could understand the lack of golden syrup and I did eventually find it in a supermarket frequented by Anglosaxon expats. Moving to England, I saw golden syrup of the shelves of almost every supermarket and felt great relief that my ANZAC biscuit baking undertakings would be not be hindered by the lack of syrup. But then I tried to find desiccated coconut.

I will start this by stating that most of the supermarkets in Manchester city centre are small and generally useless. There numerous Tesco Expresses and Sainsbury’s Locals that stock your basic necessities at slightly inflated prices. Depending on which supermarket you go to, you can find different items depending on the people who live or work nearby so you can generally find everything you need by visiting one or two stores. HOWEVER, it would appear that no one needs desiccated coconut. I went to five supermarkets looking for the fairly ordinary item but came out empty handed. Where was the coconut? As ANZAC day drew closer, I became increasingly anxious and even contemplated making them without coconut. The horror.

I desperately asked a friend where on earth he thought I would find this ingredient and after looking frazzled and perplexed he suggested I look in China Town. YES. The chinese supermarkets somehow manage to pack everything you could possibly imagine onto their shelves. And sure enough, there it was, next to dried mushrooms and chillies, a bag of mysterious dry white shavings.

I made my ANZACs a day late but I don’t think it matters. They were perfect – crunchy outside and chewy innards. I have now fed them to four Brits experiencing ANZAC biscuits for the first time. And all of them said, “Is there coconut in this?” Yes. Yes there is.