Chewy or crunchy? The story of the Anzac Biscuit goes back decades and the correct texture isn’t the only point of contention!
Local food historian Allison Reynolds loves a food fable and has documented this one in her book Anzac Biscuits: The power and spirit of an everyday national icon. She has traced the humble biscuit that connects Australia and New Zealand back over a century, all the way (so far) to a pre-1920 recipe in the handwritten notebook of a home cook.
Allison has cooked a lot of Anzac Biscuits as part of her research. She’s not telling whether she’s a chewy or a crunchy fan – in fact, she’s generously shared her two favourite recipes with us so, no matter which side of the debate you favour, you can whip up a batch for the coming weekend.
This biscuit may have taken Allison on a merry chase through its past, but the story of this biscuit is now firmly future-focused through a tasty collaboration between Adelaide Hills Foods and the War Widows Guild.
We have Allison to thank for this too, firstly for deciding to donate her royalties to the War Widows Guild and then collaborating with Emmaline’s Country Kitchen (now Adelaide Hills Foods) used to make and sell a Soldiers’ Biscuit, with a donation from each sale going to the work of the Guild here in South Australia.
“I was inspired by a story about the War Widows Guild in the Australian Women’s Weekly, and I wanted the royalties from the book to be put to practical use,” Allison says.
The War Widows Guild was formed in 1945 by Jessie Vasey to help women widowed through war to come to terms with their loss and to provide for their families. Back then, there was no pension for women who lost their husbands to war and widows not only had to deal with their grief, they had to find ways to survive and care for themselves and their children. These days, the challenges are just as tough, and the work of the Guild continues to be vitally important.
So, if baking your own isn’t on your agenda for this Anzac Day, may we suggest you chase up a packet of Adelaide Hills Foods’ Soldiers biscuits and raise a cuppa in salute of this special day and all it stands for, including an indefatigable food-focused author, a local, proudly South Australian business, and a very special group of women who give their lives to support others through the loss and sacrifices made in war.
Lest we forget.