Every good Aussie knows that April 25th, otherwise known as ANZAC Day, is sacred. It commemorates the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps veterans lost in all wars.
Originally, the day honored the ANZAC’s who fought as part of the Allied Forces along the Gallipoli Peninsula (Turkey) against the Ottoman Empire during World War I. The plan, devised by Winston Churchill, was to capture Istanbul and give it to Russia, an ally (in the first world war), so it would have access to the Mediterranean.
The battle of Gallipoli was particularly brutal because the Allied soldiers had little to no chance of surviving or gaining ground. They landed on shore only to be mown down by the Turks who were perched high on the cliffs above. Gallipoli is seen as an example of the British commanders’ willingness to sacrifice the lives of the men they were supposed to protect. Watch the incredible film Gallipoli directed by Peter Weir starring Mel Gibson (way, way, before he got weird) if you’re interested in getting a sense of what happened.
To pay tribute to ANZAC Day here are some amazing books written by Australian authors.
The Turning by Tim Winton
No one evokes the Australian landscape – the smells, the dry heat and the salty winds, like Tim Winton. Don’t even get me started on his cast of characters. This book is like a gateway drug into his work.
People of the Book by Geradine Brooks
This historical novel is based on the true story of Eyam, the “Plague Village,” tucked in the English countryside where a group of villagers quarantined themselves in an effort to avoid the plague. Brooks later won the Pulitzer for her novel March.
Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall by Anna Funder
Funder worked as an international lawyer and documentary film-maker before writing her breakout hit Stasiland, about the impact of the Stasi on the people of East Germany from August 1961 to November 1989.
Once you dive into the mind of this notorious outlaw you won’t want to get out. Carey also paints a picture of the fledgling country, rarely captured in fiction.
Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta
This was one of my favorite books growing up. Set in Sydney in the 1990s, it’s about a girl torn between her Italian heritage and fitting in at her rather snobby all-girls Catholic school. She falls in love, wrestles with some major family secrets, and more.
Now for the best way to commemorate ANZAC Day. Here is Jamie Oliver’s recipie for the perfect crisp-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside ANZAC biscuits.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Line 2 large baking trays with greaseproof paper.Melt the butter in a small pan over a low heat, then stir in the golden syrup. In a small bowl, combine the bicarbonate of soda with 3 tablespoons of boiling water, then stir it into the butter mixture.Combine the flour, oats, sugar and coconut in a medium bowl. Make a well in the middle, then add the butter mixture, vanilla extract and orange zest. Give the wet ingredients a good mix, then gradually stir in the dry ingredients to combine.Place heaped tablespoons of the mixture onto the prepared baking trays, leaving a rough 3cm gap between each one. Place in the hot oven for around 10 minutes, or until golden, then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Thanks Jamie.
Lest we forget.