Thursday, May 27, 2004

Hazelblackberry: the hyphenation

[Welcome to a regular feature here at crustaceans. Perth correspondent, Fightin' Hazelblackberry will post in with whatever floats her boat (down the Swan River. Did I mention she's in Perth?)]

Dear Nick,

Come and get it, come and get it
With Peter Russell-Clarke
Come and get it, come and get it
He's Australia's brightest spark
Come and get it, come and get it
Good food you'll love to eat
Come and get it, come and get it
And there's people you can meet

Cook a shark or make a damper
Feed your ego, pack a hamper
On the farm or out at sea
Learn a recipe or threeeee

Come and get it
With Peter - g'day
Russell - g'day
Claaaaaaaarke. (See ya later)

Where would Ian Parmenter be without the pioneering work of Peter Russell-Clarke? I saw Ian Parmenter a few weeks ago in Subiaco. In real life he is even more bon vivant than on TV. I was so anxious to keep an eye on him and hiss out of the corner of my mouth (and when I got home and checked out what I look like hissing out of the corner of my mouth while my eyes roll conspicuously in my head, I vowed I would never attempt such a covert operation again) at my lunch friend to turn around and notice Ian that I failed to notice that my lunch friend had turned a rather nasty colour and was quietly and most politely vomiting into her napkin. This wasn't due to the cuisine of the establishment at which we dined. She had a pre-existing queasiness.

And yet is there anything on the web - anything at all? - about Peter Russell-Clarke? The answer is a resounding yes. I did a search and came up with a few sites that mention him, but none (that I could find) that CELEBRATE the man. They all seemed intent on either selling books by him or taking the mickey.

I mean, come on, "Where's the cheese?" I think the only person who comes close to having such a great line is the lovely Yorkshire gent on Gardening Australia who signs off each show with, "Well that's your bloomin' lot..." Anyway, with that beard and mumbling laugh, PR-C was like a weird cross between Kenny Everett and Simon Townshend - and thank goodness Townshend didn't have a cooking show because, let's face it, food and drooling dogs just do not mix.

I used to come home from playing with my friends or swimming down at the town pool, eyes red & foggy with chlorine, sucking the remnants of bacteria-ridden pool water out of the bottom of my plaits, to watch Come and Get It while Bloody Ern cooked dinner. I never made much of a connection then between what was being concocted on TV and the food that Bloody Ern placed on the table. Not that I am knocking BE's cooking. He could whip up a mean bit of fish, would patiently stir pancake mix in a little yellow jug, getting the lumps out with a fork, knocked up a hearty porridge on a slightly cooler Sunday evening, with lettuce leaves sprinkled with sugar for dessert. And no one could touch Ern for heating up those roast meals lovingly cooked and packed into individual servings by my grandmother, Don Mary; snap frozen and air expressed to wherever we were living at the time. But when it came to stews and other, shall we say, combination cooking, even BE has to admit, "some days a diamond, some days a stone". Many a miserable evening was spent as a prisoner of the dining room table, exhorted to eat every last morsel.

In case I've been a little harsh on Bloody Ern's cuisinart, let me just note this: no one, but no one, comes close to him for appreciating just how delicious a tepid can of caramel Rice Cream can be when all the power's gone off.

Until next time, Nick.


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