Melissa leong: anzac biccie

I love a good Anzac biscuit. In fact, I scarcely know anyone who doesn’t.

Sure, opinions might be divided into camps of honey vs golden syrup and crunchy vs chewy, but that wholesome, golden, oaty, coconuty goodness is something all Australians and Kiwis are fond of, not in the least because it represents a healthy sense of nostalgia and patriotism…of the non-Cronulla-riot kind. (For the record, I happen to think that the best combination is crunchy on the outside, chewy in the centre and made with golden syrup, but you’re welcome to disagree).

Biscuit mythology goes that these golden oldies were named Anzac biscuits because they were made by those at home (with love) to be sent to loved ones at war. A likelier story, though they do travel well, is that they were made and sold on the home front to raise money for the war effort in biscuit drives, church and school fetes and of course CWA gatherings, hence, the ANZAC reference in the name.

I drove out to central NSW to a town called Cudal last year to meet and interview CWA baking champion and Masterchef challenge setter, Merle Parrish. We talked about her opinions on being part of the CWA and what the classic biccie meant to her.

Like anything the CWA choose to include in their repertoire, the recipe is simple enough, but often it’s a technique honed on hundreds of batches that make them magic.

Aside from the fierce competition that breeds perfection, Merle also noted in her personal experience that the social network of the CWA and the love in the baking is something that connects so many women across distance not only to each other for support and solidarity, but to their loved ones fighting on the frontline abroad.

Whether it’s part of your personal history or not, living in Australia or New Zealand bonds us in a special Antipodean way. So if you’ve the time to set aside a quiet moment for a cup of tea and an Anzac biscuit in the lead up to the 25th of April, while you are dunking and sipping, give a quiet nod to those who have and continue to serve in order for us to have that quiet moment in the first place.

Melissa Leong