We didn't have to be in Australia long (a weekend) to find out that it's national food is meat pies. Usually, with tomato sauce. In the early years of life here, tomato sauce was handed out freely with the purchase of a meat pie. Nowadays, tomato sauce is extra. Consuming a meat pie in Australia, put simply, is simply a messy affair. I don't think anybody can work out how to correctly open a sachet of tomato sauce. No matter how much you think you've got each brand, each packaging mastered, you're proven wrong. Crumbs and stains and a facial essence of vinegar, with shreds of flesh on the side (of your teeth!).
Raising little Aussies the right way is teaching them to eat (and love to eat) meat pies. It's tradition. I taught them young. On one particular occasion:
"Could I have four steak and kidney pies, please?"
"Would you like sauce with that?" (we all know she meant tomato sauce. No need to clarify)
"Help yourself to serviettes" (she knew the mess they would make)
With that last instruction, I loaded one child with two pies, another with same and the third with tomato sauce, knives and forks (even though I knew they wouldn't be used. It's polite to take the cutlery, even though we all know any self respecting pie lover would not use it). I then grabbed sixty serviettes and directed the chillens to a table outdoors.
It was cold and windy and the table was wobbly. Serviettes were flying away quicker than I could tuck them into tops, or place them on laps, or lodge them under plates. A toy had been left somewhere on a previous errand and this was causing extreme woe and somebody needed to pee. NOW.
I began relating a story, to distract the luncheoners. A story about a man in England who would bake the most delicious pies. My mam had told me this story years ago. I couldn't remember the whole story. Just the gory bits. I related how this man would creep out at night, find some unsuspecting victims, kill them, take them home, chop them up, mince them up, stew them, put pastry on top of them and bake them.
Their eyes grew large, as they caught their breath....
"Did people eat the pies, mummy?"
"Oh yes, they would eat them and think they were so yummy and go back for more and more"
"They ATE the pies with people in them?"
"Yes, they ate them and this man who made the pies became very rich"
My middle daughter screwed up her face and looked down at her plate containing the partly broken pie with a trickle of gravy oozing out of the pastry shell. I knew she wouldn't be eating lunch that day.
"Well, somebody was eating a pie and they found a finger in the pie".
All together now "Yuuuuukkkkkkk".
It was a long time before middle daughter ate another pie. Today, however, she is a self confessed meat lover. Oh, and she actually watched Sweeny Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, without even a flinch.
Nor is she scarred for life.