(This article first appeared in Bobby Dazzler Newsletter #74 just before Anzac Day, and is reproduced here to encourage discussion. To receive the newsletter by email every two months, please send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Since Anzac Day comes up shortly (April 25th), it seemed an appropriate time to introduce a subject of national importance: Australia’s National Biscuit.
The story is that Anzac biscuits were invented as something enjoyable and nutritious that could be sent to our soldiers overseas, because the ingredients do not spoil easily. This is one reason why they contain no eggs.
Use of the term “Anzac” is protected under both Australian and New Zealand law, and cannot be used commercially without obtaining permission from the relevant authority. However, there is a general exemption for Anzac biscuits as long as they remain basically true to the original recipe, and are sold as “biscuits” and not “cookies”.
The standard ingredients are flour, desiccated coconut, rolled oats, sugar, baking soda, butter and golden syrup (sometimes referred to in Oz as “cocky’s joy”). The straightforward recipe can be easily obtained on the internet. Why not make up a batch for Anzac Day? And remember, they can be quite addictive.
I was surprised to get a response from an American friend in West Virginia, USA, who told me that her American “mom” sometimes makes Anzac biscuits. I hadn’t realised that their fame had spread that far! My friend also wished me a “happy Anzac Day”, but I haven’t had the heart to tell her that that’s not quite kosher. Anzac Day is not a “happy” day.
Then came an email from an Australian friend living in Uganda, who said that she’s been making Anzac biscuits at her home in Kampala, but is having trouble keeping up with the demand from her friends for more. She’s also experimenting with cooking them over a charcoal fire.
Maybe the Anzac biscuit is going global!
Which made me think that it shouldn’t be too hard to make Anzac biscuits in a camp oven. I’m sure there’ll be someone reading this who has done just that. Please tell us about the experience.
And finally, I wonder whether there are countries apart from Oz and New Zealand which have what they regard as a “national biscuit”, or even (can my lips frame the words?) a “national cookie”?