Given the difficulty contemporary Australians seem to have with celebrating any ritual, in the absence of a public holiday, it was cheering to see the number of people celebrating that most ancient of festival days this week, the winter solstice, Tuesday 22 June, commonly known as the shortest day of the year. At Davis Base in the Australian Antarctic Territory they really went all out!
No doubt my ancient British ancestors celebrated this turning point of the year with lots of bonfires, food and drink but, in the absence of a public holiday, our friends threw a soup laden (ladelled?) Solstice party on Saturday night instead.
Warmed on our arrival by a cup of spiced apple juice the party then settled down to the serious business of eating. Our soups covered the gamut of the winter favourites. Pumpkin was the most popular component with two different variations on a Spicy Thai-style pumpkin soup, ‘Old’ vegetable soup (based on Stephanie Alexanders’ pumpkin and vegetable soup) and my own roasted tomato and pumpkin soup. Potato and leek, leek and cauliflower, Mexican vegetable soup, vegetable soup, French onion soup (cooks tip substitute cream sherry instead of wine in the recipe) and pea and ham soup filled out the menu, not to mention our stomachs.
Of course the supporting element was bread. Friend A, who so excelled as a barrista at our recent afternoon tea, turns out to be no slouch in the bread making department either! His recipe for ‘No Knead’ bread came from the New York Times (based on a Jim Lahey recipe) was an absolute winner …
and it didn’t last very long! Thank heavens he’d made two loaves.
For those with left over space TB made steamed marmalade and steamed golden syrup and treacle puddings. Our hostess commented that when she heard the happy hum of 16 people all talking at once she knew we were having a great time and so we were.
PSThankfully there was no swimming in the ice pool for us after the meal.