Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.

11.11.04

Lest We Forget.

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

At that precise moment, a shaft of sunlight strikes and then passes over the word Love on a tablet - the Stone of Remembrance - bearing the words Greater Love Hath No Man, on the central floor of the Shrine of Remembrance, marking Armistice Day.

At that moment, the entire city comes to a halt, to remember the 19,000 Victorians - of 62,000 Australians - who fell in the Great War: the war to end all wars. Huh.

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We were in town to visit the Queen Victoria market - Thursday is its busiest day. The seafood stalls were staggering, loaded with magnificent fish of all kinds. We bought some fresh Tasmanian Atlantic Salmon (yes, I know Tasmania is nowhere near the Atlantic) and some oysters; then walked through the fruit and vegetable section and picked up some mangoes fresh from Queensland. The variety was astounding, red papaw, melons of all kinds, chinese greens of every type, bunches of fresh herbs most people have never heard of let alone tried and stall after stall of fresh produce piled high.

The highlight is the deli section - every country on earth is represented here. Cheeses of all kinds (except Roquefort!), from everywhere, hundreds of different sausages and smallgoods, breads of every type, preserves, wines, dried fish, you name it. Of course, all this food makes you hungry so when you arrive at the take-away food section it's impossible to resist.

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Soon the market loudspeaker announced that there would be one minute's silence at precisely 11am and would everyone kindly respect the moment. Amazingly, the crowd complied. Hagglers and spruikers suddenly found themselves shouting into an abyss and were quick to quiet themselves. A spine-tingling silence spread. Well, it certainly tingled my spine.

Then, into the silence came the roar of four RAAF aircraft flying in formation over the city, down to the Shrine, to commemorate the moment. The shaft of sunlight? Didn't happen. It's been overcast all day and now it's raining.

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The crowd returned to normal. Where were we? The takeaway stall.

Turkish spinach and cheese burek - hot, fresh and totally delicious, $2.50.

Life goes on.


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