Anzac biscuits

Photoshopped image credit: Boondecker

The importance of the humble Anzac Biscuit should never be underestimated. It is steeped in tradition and is part of our National heritage and identity.

Everyone has their favourite recipe ? mine has always been my tried and true original Edmond?s recipe and it is always a crowd pleaser.

Coming home from the Dawn Service and popping a fresh batch of Anzac bickies into the oven is to me, part of the ANZAC tradition. No one likes a soggy Anzac biscuit.? You may dunk one so that it becomes less defiant, but it must never be limp and soggy when it sits on your plate.

My very first Dawn Service was at St Faith?s Church at Ohinemutu in Rotorua. The steam was rising out of the tombs at the lakeside cemetery as the sun rose over Lake Rotorua. In the church, the glass window showed Christ walking on water. He is portrayed wearing a traditional Maori  Cloak and it was as if he was walking from Hinemoa Island to Ohinemutu.

It was bitterly cold;? the air was still and the mist was just starting to lift off the lake. As the bugler sounded out The Last Post, I felt chills throughout my body ? not from the cold, but from the intense emotional atmosphere that surrounded me.? Tears welled up from within me and I felt an overwhelming sense of pride, loss, grief, patriotism and genuine humility. I was 15 years old.

Later, on my way back to Ngongotaha, I could not speak. I did not wish to speak. I needed to be silent and contemplative. That day, all those years ago, I changed forever. I became an adult. The sheer enormity of what had led me to stand in the frigid Rotorua Dawn air was too huge for me to come to grips with. It was as if I had been confronted with reality and the true essence of courage, fortitude, honour and sacrifice.

On our return to my friend?s home, his Mum quickly baked a batch of Anzac Biscuits. We gathered around in true Fellowship and ate her biscuits and drank piping hot tea.

Of all the Anzac Biscuits I have ever eaten, those were by far the most memorable and the best.

Over the ensuing decades, I have eaten many Anzac bickies. Most have been chewy, soggy, bendy and overly sweet. It is as though the roots of this fine humble tradition have been lost to retail consumerism and trivialised into a baked product that can be found on the shelves of supermarkets at almost any time of the year.

Back when they first surfaced, the humble Anzac biscuit reflected the time in which they were created. No eggs. Because many poultry farmers had risen to the call to head off to fight and eggs were very scarce.

There are so many stories about our humble bickie. No one really knows whether they were sent to our troops, or merely baked as fundraisers. My limited research tells me that they had little sugar, no eggs, golden syrup and heaps of rolled oats.

If we are to maintain this Anzac Tradition, surely the biscuit should be included in our respect and love for those that risked so much for us? Surely it should  only be available for sale in March and April and a portion of the proceeds gifted to our RSA?s?

Or is this part of a bigger problem? Like Christmas and Easter, is Anzac Day being overtaken by commercialism?

Our beloved biscuit is now just another bakery item. There is no quality control; no sense of identity. Now, our Dawn Services are under attack for fear of terrorist attacks. The irony cannot be lost, surely? 

The theft of our RIGHT to attend a Dawn Service to commemorate our brave and long lost soldiers is a National disgrace. If it takes turning out the entire New Zealand Army, Navy and Airforce to each and every Dawn Service throughout this land, then it should be done.  Because the THEFT of Anzac Day by threats of violence is the exact reason why the Dawn Services should and must be held. After all, that is what those lads died to protect.

Are we becoming a soggy, limp, chewy excuse for a people? Or do we still have the crunch, the bite and the resilience of a true Anzac biscuit? It was a good recipe and one that has served us well since its birth, in a time of war and a time of great need.

Let us return to the old recipes and save our traditions.

If we do not, then The Last Post may be more prophetic than we realise. Lest We Forget.

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