South Sudanese cookbook – a gorgeous world first

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Jibrine Akima Magdaline Jok wears a number of hats.

She’s a Caroline Springs mother of four children.

She’s a successful career woman in the finance sector.

She’s a proud member of the South Sudanese community in Melbourne and Australia.

And now she’s the author and publisher of a fabulous South Sudanese cookbook.

So far as she and I can ascertain, it’s the first South Sudanese cookbook – ever.

The book was born of her love of cooking and, more specifically, through a visit to her mother in Africa that came after more than a decade of separation.

She has been inspired, too, by the thought that food traditions can be a profound community glue in fraught times of war, refugees and families scattered to the four winds around the globe.

“When I visited my mum, we cooked every day and I heard all the stories,” Jibrine says.

“I spent most of my time jotting down notes and practising the dishes that she made on a daily basis.

“This advice she shared stays with me: ‘The more time, patience, love and passion you have for cooking meals, the greater the taste’.”

I am in awe of Jibrine’s efforts in scrambling up an Everest-like learning curve to bring this project to life.

She’s obviously a very capable human – but until now she had zero experience with writing, editing, publishing, cookbooks, translation and more.

On top of all that, she has successfully created a book of more than 100 recipes directly from the maternal source – bringing to life in the written word recipes previously transmitted only by the verbal/visual folk methods of “a handful of this, and a pinch of that”.

 

 

Like all great cookbooks, Jibrine’s effort can be seen as an end in itself – it’s beautiful to handle and read, and the photographs are simple, honest and not inappropriately styled in terms of glam.

There’a strong accent on a wide variety of stews – meat, poultry, fish, pulses.

The recipes appear to be straightforward and well presented, and most of the ingredients of the easily obtainable variety.

 

 

In some ways, Jibrine’s cookbook journey is just beginning.

The challenge now is to get that book and those recipes into the kitchens of foodies everywhere.

To buy a copy of South Sudanese Family Cookbook, try Lueth Variety Shop, 10B Paisley Street, Footscray, phone 9687 4097. It costs $30. Or email Jibrine on jibrinem@yahoo.com

 

Reception centres of the western suburbs – part 2

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When, a little over a year ago, CTS ran a story about reception centres of the western suburbs, it won a lot of readers.

As explained then, it was inspired – largely – by the derelict building on Sunshine Road in Tottenham.

I’d always assumed it was a reception centre.

But when I stopped to photograph it, I wasn’t so sure – it seemed a mite small.

Back then, a reader assured me of its reception centre credentials and that it was destined for new life as the new location of the long-standing Happy Receptions on Union Road in Ascot Vale.

And now?

Lo – it has become so!

It’s bright and shiny and new and very big.

So far as I can tell, none of the original structures remain in place.

As I park, the owner is quickly on to me – i.e. wondering what the hell I’m up to.

He relaxes, but remains guarded, as I express my interest.

He tells they’ll be opening in a couple of weeks and there’s already a stack of bookings.

There’s actually two reception facilities.

The one on the left, unfinished as yet, appears smaller, but the owner tells me it’s actually bigger.

The reason for the move from Ascot Vale after 40 years?

There’s a real problem for guest parking there.

And, of course, the land is very valuable.

Destined, the boss tells me, for apartments.

Gee, what a surprise!

I’d love to do a fly-on-the-wall story of a typical reception centre wedding/celebration Saturday night: The staff, the cooks, the band, the food, the guests, the lot!

Have put it one outfit, but they never got back to me.

This guy was pleasant enough, but sufficiently reticent for me to think he’s not a good candidate!

See original story here.

 

 

The west and its food don’t need your validation

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New westie food ventures of the ritzy nature always generate a great deal of speculation, excitement and curiosity – and that is certainly the case at present with regards to the revamp headed our way at Harts Hotel in Middle Foostcray and Harley & Rose, soon to be up and running at the former location of Ovest in West Footscray.

In both cases, CTS has decided not pursue these stories as both establishments have already generated coverage.

So I know what you know.

But that doesn’t stop me and my friends thinking about what is happening and the dynamics at play.

Sometimes that interest becomes amusement and bemusement.

Last week’s story in The Age, for example, started with the words “Footscray: it’s the suburb that just won’t quit its upward trajectory”, while that same opening paragraph concluded with “Now, serious food is coming in hot”.

The story finished with “Upwards the west”.

For goodness sakes, who or what defines, in this context, what “upward trajectory, “serious food” and “upwards the west” mean?

Is it solely down to celebrity foodie names like McConnell, Builders Arms and Cutler and Co?

That often seems to be the case when it comes coverage of westie food happenings in non-western Melbourne media of various levels and varieties.

Or is just about the sleek/chic/hipster/trendy/groovy look and feel of such places that drives such coverage and proclamations of progress? And even if the food is in no way adventurous or new?

A combination of both, I’m guessing.

And the very use of words and concepts such as upwards and trajectory in a food context themselves bespeak a mindset that is narrow and competitive.

I’d argue that, depending on rather different criteria, that there is serious food happening every day of the week in the west – and not just the inner west, either.

Even if it mostly falls outside your world view.

In regards to the same story, two pals have pointed out to me – without prompting – that phrases such as “panzanella with local vinegar” and “a coiffed traditional pub menu” read like hipster parody.

Though that may be attributable to The Age and its writer, rather than those behind these businesses.

As ever with such happenings, I am interested to discover whether these joints will be merely in the west – or OF the west.

Some launches from the recent and not-so-recent past illustrate how some folks have gone about getting the locals onside.

When The Plough was relaunched a few years back, the publicists and management ambled up and down Victoria and Charles streets, inviting the local Seddon businesses and their staff to the opening night party.

Likewise, when the Calombaris empire made its move into Williamstown at Hellenic Hotel, local traders and notables, western suburbs media  – and, yes, this blogger – were well represented at the launch festivities.

Just this week, a new Vietnamese-Chinese restaurant opened in Cairnlea.

Unfortunately, Bennie and I were unable to attend the opening night on Tuesday.

We would love to have been there.

Because the eatery concerned, Kim Huong, did it in style by throwing a full-on banquet involving the likes of roast pork, fish coleslaw, abalone, scallops and barramundi.

At no charge.

For whoever in the community was interested in attending.

Way to go – now THAT’S a good way to build engagement with the locals.

Let’s imagine, in a parallel universe, this scenario …

In which a flash new eatery in the western suburbs is opening, but with a buzz built solely around foodie star power and with publicists/marketing crew with few or no contacts in – or knowledge of – the west.

Opening night sees a parade of the habitual red carpet/bubbly hordes front up for one of their very rare visits to the western suburbs, which are usually only for just such events.

As a friend opined to me: “They’d have a great first week; I’d check to see where they’re at in six months.”

The simple truth is – as it currently stands – drawing people to the west across the Maribyrnong remains a very uphill battle.

So non-celeb, regulation westies will be your bread and butter – whether you like it or not.

And in the inner west, and in West Footscray in particular, that means lots and lots young families.

My guess – informed by speaking with countless people, food industry types in the west and sometimes idiotically forensic analysis of Facebook community pages – is that for many such folk, eating out is a once-a-month deal, and even that’s a stretch for some.

Winning regular, local clientele is a tricky business – but can be done.

Not for a minute am I advocating wall-to-wall karaoke and $15 parmas.

But what won’t wash, either, are high prices, beautiful plating and small serves that leave punters seriously out of pocket and looking for a kebab.

It’s also been put to me this week that apartment arisings in the inner west – including those of the multi-storey kind on the banks of the Maribyrnong, but also others of less magnitude – are creating an instant population with disposable income (some of the DINK variety) ready to burn on flash eating and perhaps even fine dining.

The inner west may get there some day – and maybe quite soon.

But not yet.

See you at Harley & Rose?

Could do!

But we’d need to see the menu – and prices – first.

Is karma real?

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Ah, Sims … our supermarket of choice.

Right outside this West Footscray institution can be an interesting place, too.

There’s racks for bikes; often enough, these are also used for tethering interesting dogs while their owners are inside shopping.

There’s always interesting people, too, coming and going.

We’re well used to running into friends and readers right here.

But in all our years shopping at Sims, I have never experienced an event as surreal as that of this week.

Pulling in for a typical mid-week, post-work top up of cat food and a few others bits and pieces, I amble towards the ATM to make a withdrawal.

Shockingly, as I get there I find a fistful of $50 notes hanging out of it.

Now, I confess to being guilty of having, in the past, absendmindedly left money – $50 one time, $100 on another – at ATMs.

But this is a first – finding “free” money at a money machine.

And in considerable quantity.

I deftly grab the cash and stuff it in my pocket, before going about the business of my own transaction.

And all the while I’m wondering about just how to handle this …

After all, I suspect that for whoever left this money here, this will constitute a cataclysmic event.

I know it would be for me!

I glance over my shoulder, seeing an old bloke shuffling with his shopping across the road to his car.

Maybe it’s him?

As I continue to ponder this dilemma, all the while going through the process of my own (much more modest) withdrawal, a young bloke comes out of the supermarket, approaches me and the ATM and asks:

“Did you find $400 here?”

Reply I: “Stand back a bit, mate, while I finish my business.”

Once done, I stroll a few paces away, followed by my new friend.

He tries a variation on his theme:

“Was there $400 there?”

I reach into my pocket, pull out the money – and count it.

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven – sure enough, I have eight $50 dollar notes.

I hand it over to the young man, saying:

“Mate, this sure as hell is your lucky day”

He mumbles some not particularly gracious thanks and heads straight back into Sims.

I follow him, so see him head straight into the bottle shop.

Hell, that’s precisely what I’d do, too!

So my ethical conundrum has been short-circuited by the arrival of the money’s rightful owner.

I’m not quite sure how I would’ve handled it had the bloke not arrived.

The Sims staff subsequently tell me they’re well used to customers leaving all sorts of stuff in the aisles – including sums of money a lot bigger than $400.

In any case, IF there is any such thing as karma, I fully expect that when I go to check on my modest Powerball quick pick, the machine will cheerfully emit that tinkly winner’s tune.

Just kidding – I don’t believe in karma, and particularly not any tit-for-tat variety that sways lottery tickets!

Trugo thrills

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Footscray Summer Cup, Footscray Park Bowling Club, 1 Hoadley Court, Footscray.

This was the second social play day of the revived Footscray Trugo Club I attended.

 

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As with the first, it was held at the Ballarat Road home of the Footscray City Bowling Club – the trugo club’s temporary HQ while the club’s proper home at Buckley Street moves through the red-tape process.

 

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It was a hot day, so I was by no means sure I’d be up for anything approaching serious competition or socialising.

But settle in we all did, for a most enjoyable afternoon.

 

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Some temporary shelter helped – a lot!

 

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The bowls club bar was operating, which gave me a chance to check out the gorgeous old-school decor.

 

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After the set-up, practice hits and a few people coming and going, four teams of four players each got down to it.

 

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The gripping, nail-biting final was won 18-17 by the Olympic Doughnuts over the Go Ruts! line-up.

 

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The Footscray Trugo Club will be holding social days on the fourth Sunday of every month.

It’s good fun – and no previous experience is necessary!

Check out the Facebook page here and the blog/website here.

 

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Reception centres of the western suburbs

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Wedding receptions and other big parties/gatherings are held, of course, in many venues across the west – at Werribee Mansion, for example.

But here I am concerned here only with those that bill themselves as reception centres.

I love them!

The above photo was taken while I was attending a recent political fundraiser at 501 Receptions in West Footscray.

In all but one of the other cases, I gained access to the centres simply by walking in.

I took a heap of interior photos – and was even given a guided tour by management in one case.

But the rooms were all either being cleaned up by staff and/or prepared for the next function.

As such, I have chosen not use such photos as it would be unfair.

But what impressed me in all cases was the hushed grandeur of the reception rooms – especially the big ones.

And I admired the architectural skill that creates such grand rooms almost totally without pillars.

All these places spoke to me deeply in terms of community gatherings, of weddings and 21sts and balls and many generations of celebrations.

Of hopes and dreams.

I’d be super thrilled and grateful if any readers would care to chip in with their memories of attending functions at any of these places!

 

501 Receptions, Barkly Street, West Footscray

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Sheldon Recepotion & Convention Centre, Somerville Road, Sunshine West.

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Grand Star Reception & Convention Centre, Grieve Parade, Altona North

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White Knight Receptions, Hampstead Road, Maidstone

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Ultima Function Centre, Keilor Park Drive, Keilor Park

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Lakeside Banquest & Convention Centre, Melton Highway, Taylors Lakes

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The Luxor Function Centre, Sydenham Road, Taylors Lakes

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Unknown, Sunshine Road, Tottenham

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I’m including this because it was actually this derelict building on Sunshine Road in Tottenham that inspired a reception centre post.

Having driven past it countless times, often wondering about its history, I’d always assumed it was – or had been – a reception centre.

But upon stopping to take photographs, I realised it simply doesn’t seem big or grand enough.

Does anyone know its story?