Tasting the memories…

Spices from lands afar and stories embedded within… in a language of love!

Publicity image for Cooked with Love

If my father were alive, 1st October 2004 would have been my parents sapphire wedding anniversary. Undeterred by his physical presence, I marked it never the less: 45 dishes prepared with 45 ingredients for 45 guests, all cooked with love! Commissioned and hosted by home lush wedding images and autobiographical glimpses created an intimate setting. Each dish burst forth with unexpected tastes, spiced conversations and much merriment and laughter. My mother did not attend the event as she thought it was a bit weird to be celebrating without my father, even though I was sure he was there mingling with the guests. My sister and mother participated by making some dishes and mum recorded a flying kiss on camera. Once the guests understood why my parents weren’t there in person, brimming with emotions they wrote thank you messages for her and took back home recipes with them.

1st October 2011 Melbourne

Now that Journeys of Love and More Love is being presented at the Melbourne Festival, , motiroti in association with Multicultural Arts Victoria wanted to create a food workshop by inviting people to share food. What better way to celebrate our differences than by sharing what our journeys have been, what we eat and to taste the otherness. To understand why people wanted to be part of the food sharing workshop a few questions were posed, to understand the interest of the participating guests, and enable us as hosts to understand their expectations. MAV received more interest than we could accommodate so we selected the first twenty.

Besides as being the same date as my parents wedding anniversary yet again, it was Grand Finals that day. Don’t ask how we arrived at selecting the date but I had a vague anxiety of all ready to go and no guests! On the question of quantity to be cooked, my guideline was 30 spoonfuls, approximately one and a half tablespoon each dish… multiply it times twenty and belly is full!

Having flown in just a day before and still sort of jet lagged, with the help of Anna and Jessica from Melbourne Festival we had made the space welcoming for the guests. Daybreak Films set up their gear to video short interviews adjacent to the main room where tables were laid out. The first of the guests arrive ahead of time followed by a steady trickle arriving with big containers. Soon we had to add more tables on which to lay out the food. We all introduced ourselves and charted how our journeys had brought us together around the table. I wanted to film people for the camera and to tell me what they had brought, once we had done that, I wanted people to guess the dishes rather than a description by those who made it. We started filming in the room prepared fro the purpose but the introductions to the camera were taking too long, so on popular request and demands of hungry bellies, we started with the savoury dishes. People described the dishes they brought, the influences, the stories just poured. We listened and ate in rapture and talked more lucidly. Seble donned a traditional Ethiopian white cotton dress with coloured woven borders, and prepared the ceremonial roasting of the coffee beans over a charcoal stove coaxing their aroma, grinding it and then serving it to all the guests.

Difficult in that we still had to film! We continued however in the other space, the rising sound levels telling us, conversations were getting deeper. Graceful and gracious… with bellies tickled, tastes ignited and curiosities satiated, we learnt from each others differences and eventually said our good byes – inviting them over for the dress rehearsal.

This short video is just a mere taster of the extraordinary few hours we spent in each other’s company… a diverse group made up of educators, artists, students, performers, community leaders, caterers, chefs and above all open minded passionate people who love to share. From now on 1st October will have a whole heap of beautifully rich associations for me!

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for making the day so special and extending such a warm welcome.

Wouldn’t it be a great if we collated all the recipes here too?



5 thoughts on “Tasting the memories…”

  1. More from memories of food and love from Motiroti, Melbourne Festival 2011.
    You can find my mother’s recipe for her wonderful pasticco which brings wonderful memories of family gatherings for many family and friends.

  2. hey rhonda the pasticco you brought was DELICIOUS! and thank you for sharing the recipe here… a special thanks to your sister for memorising it!

  3. How wonderful to spend a cool spring Saturday afternoon in Melbourne together with others who love food! While everyone else was mesmorized by the footy Grand Final we were treated to delicious home made cooking and meeting new people.

    My recipe Pasticcho (Greek Cypriot style) comes from my sister’s memory of my mother’s cooking. Luckily someone has written it down!



    Pasticco Macaronia


    The Filling

    2 tablespoons oil
    500grams mincemeat
    1 onion chopped
    1 clove garlic
    Chopped fresh parsley (or dried)
    Salt, pepper
    1 tsp nutmeg
    1 tsp cumin
    3 eggs
    1 can diced tomatoes
    ½ cup white wine
    500 grams large macaroni or penne cooked al dente
    2 tablespoons butter
    1 cup grated cheese (dried ricotta if you have it)

    Bechamel Sauce
    ¾ cup butter (approx.)
    1 cup flour (approx.)
    4 cups (approx.) milk
    1 tsp nutmeg
    1 cup grated cheese (haloumi, mild tasty or mozzarella)
    salt, pepper


    For the filling: heat oil and sauté onion, add garlic, add mince and brown, add remaining ingredients and cook for 10-15 minutes on med/low heat, leave to cool.

    To make sauce: melt butter in a saucepan, add the flour to make a roué and cool over gentle heat for 1-2 minutes. Add milk and stir until the sauce is smooth (should be runny off the spoon). Add salt, pepper & nutmeg. Remove from heat and stir in the eggs and grated cheese.

    Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until soft but firm. Drain and return to pan, add the butter with ¼ of the sauce and ¼ of the mince filling and mix through. Butter a baking pan and add half the macaroni mix, sprinkle with some grated cheese, add the remaining mince on 2nd layer and top with remaining pasta. Sprinkle with cheese and cover with remaining sauce. Sprinkle top with the rest of the cheese and some breadcrumbs for crunchiness and cook in a moderate oven for approx. 45 minutes or until golden brown.

    Allow to cool down before cutting into squared portions.

  4. Thank you stella!! for attending the food sharing as well as the performance, and the recipes above! merci beaucoup x

  5. Ali

    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be part of this wonderful experience. Meeting people who share similar interests and a passion for food was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. I felt totally at ease and relaxed and went home with a feeling of peace and harmony.

    Please find below my recipes for the three dishes I brought along which are favourites in my birth place Mauritius.

    Wishing you great success with your projects and hope we cross paths again in the future.

    Take care

    Much love


    Achard Légumes ( Vegetable Pickle)

    1 large cabbage,
    4-5 large carrots
    500 grams Green Beans
    1 medium cauliflower
    2-3 tablespoons of coarsely grounded mustard seeds,
    2 garlic bulbs
    1 tablespoon turmeric powder,
    12 long green chillies,
    1 cup of vegetable oil,
    4 large onions
    ½ cup of white vinegar,
    ¼ cup of salt.

    Preparing the vegetables
    • Wash all vegetables thoroughly.
    • Cut the cabbage finely and place in a large stainless steel bowl
    • Peel carrots, cut in half and cut up in strips lengthwise (If you have one of those special graters that slices them, it is much quicker to use that).
    • Cut ends off the green beans and slice them lengthwise (use the bean cutter)
    • Cut the cauliflowers up into little fleurettes.
    • Toss all the vegetables together, add salt & vinegar, cover and soak overnight.
    • Drain in a large colander and squeeze out all excess water using a teatowel. (this is the hardest part of the process and the lengthiest). I’ve not come up with a easier way to do it yet.
    • Lay out on a large tray lined with greaseproof paper and allow to dry in the sun.
    (Tip) If there is no sun, warm up your oven and cook the vegetables for about 10-15 mins to remove any excess moisture. Remove and allow to cool.

    Preparing the sauce
    • In a blender, place 2 large onions diced, peeled garlic, ginger and ½ the chillies and blend to a smooth paste.
    • Cut up the remaining chillies in four lengthwise
    • Cut up the two large onions in quarters and separate.
    • Heat up the oil and when ready, add the paste and stir quickly, otherwise the edges will burn.
    • Add the chillies and onions, mustard seed and turmeric and turn off the heat.
    • Add the vegetables and stir well to mix all the ingredients.
    • Place in a sanitized jar (boiled in water and allowed to dry naturally) and cover with oil.
    • You may store in the refrigerator but this method allows you to keep the achard up to 6 months in the pantry. However, there is no guarantee that you will have any left to last that long.

    Napolitaines (Shortbread biscuits sandwiched with jam and covered with pink icing)

    (makes around 50 or more if using smaller shapes)

    • 600 grams plain flour
    • 500 grams butter
    • plum or apricot jam
    • 500 grams Soft Icing Sugar
    • Hot water to make icing paste
    • 1-2 drop pink food colouring
    • Rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips, until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.
    • Knead until it forms a soft dough. .
    • Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1cm thick.
    • Cut out circular shapes about 2.5 cms for small ones or 5cms for large ones using a cookie cutter. Reshape the dough and roll out again until you have used up all the dough.
    (Tip) If the dough gets too dry, just add a little bit more margarine.
    • Place them on a baking tray and bake in a preheated oven 180° for 17 mins or until biscuits turn a light golden brown. Do not overcook as it will taste burnt.
    • Allow to cool down.
    • Spread jam over one biscuit and sandwich it up with another biscuit.
    • Place the paired biscuit on a cooling rack over a drip tray leaving sufficient room between them so that when you ice your biscuits they do not stick together
    • Sift the Icing Sugar into a jug and add sufficient hot water to form a paste not too runny and not too dry either. You want the paste to be able to be poured over the biscuit to cover it without the biscuits being seen through the icing.
    (Tip) Test a couple first before covering the lot, that way you will not be disappointed with the outcome.
    • Add the food colouring to obtain a pale pink colour or darker if you prefer more colour.
    • Place some boiling water in a large cup and place a knife and serving knife in it as well as a spoon.
    • Coat the biscuits one at a time with the icing by scooping one tablespoon of the paste in a circular motion over the biscuit using the spoon from the hot water and make sure that it is cover thoroughly by guiding your spoon around the biscuit.
    • Using the hot serving knife (this allows the excess icing around the biscuits to come off easily), gently remove the coated biscuit and place on a serving platter to set. Remember to not allow them to touch each other until they are dry.
    • Serve to your family and friends with a nice cup of tea or coffee.

    Puit d’Amour -translation “Well of Love” (Tart with Creme Patissiere coverd with shredded coconut and a cherry on top)

    Makes 25
    Pastry Cases:
    2 Cups of white flour
    2 Cups of self raising flour
    1 cup of softened butter
    2 eggs whisked
    1 cup of icing sugar

    Baking the Pastry Cases

    1. Sift the plain flour & the self raising flour into a mixing bowl.
    2. Pour the egg mixture, icing sugar and softened butter in the centre of the bowl.
    3. Mix all the ingredients well until you have a dough. Add more egg if necessary to make a nice dough but do not use any water.
    4. Roll out into a log still using your hands.
    5. Wrap in Glad plastic wrap and refridgerate for 2 hours.
    6. Roll out the pastry unto a floured board around ½ cm deep
    7. Using a cookie cutter with scalloped edges cut out circles 1 cms larger than your cases.
    8. Cut out as many circles as you need, the remaining dough can be re rolled and used again.
    9. Gently layer the dough into your mould to retain it’s scalloped edge and blind bake in a moderate ovenon 180degrees until they are golden but not brown.
    10. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
    11. Cases can be stored in airtight container for up to a month.

    Custard Filling (Crème Pâtissière):
    9 egg yolks
    2/3 cup of sifted caster sugar
    3 tablespoons of sifted plain flour
    3 tablespoons of sifted cornflour
    1 litre of milk
    1/3 vanilla pod (cut in half) or 1 ½ teaspoons of vanilla extract

    Making the Crème Patissière:

    1. Heat milk without boiling,
    2. Mix egg yolks, caster sugar, plain flour and cornflour together and mix with a bamix or had mixer until no more lumps appear.
    3. Slowly pour the hot milk a little at a time over the mixture.
    4. Pour into a saucepan and cook on medium heat stirring continuously until the mixture thickens.
    5. Add vanilla extract and continue to stir until the vanilla is well blended in the crème patissiere.
    6. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl/container.
    7. Cover with Glad Plastic Wrap and allow to set .

    Putting it all together to serve.
    ( It is best to prepare the Puit d’Amour just before you serve them as the cases remain crunchy.)

    1. Scoop 1-2 tablespoons of the crème patissiere into the cases. Ensuring that you round it up with the spoon to end up with a dome effect.
    2. Sprinkle Shredded Coconut or Dessicated Coconut (Subject to your preference.)
    3. Cut up Glace Cherries in half or quarters and place on top of the Puit d’Amour.
    4. Et voila! They are ready to eat.

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