A Tribute to Pot Luck Dinners and Pie Floaters

I have so many fond memories of pot-luck dinners during my years at Murdoch Uni and Uni SA. I was blessed to make friends with people from countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, India, China, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Poland, USA, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, Chile, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, Mauritius, England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland and of course our neighbours in New Zealand. This list is bigger than I ever imagined. Please don’t abuse me if I’ve forgotten your country. I did my best.

It was always fantastic to see people who wouldn’t ordinarily cook give it a good hard go. One time a group of us bought an absurd amount of fresh mussels. I’m sure it was 10kg or something. We cooked mussels every which way we could. A real highlight was South African mussel bobotie. We had grilled mussels with chilli and cheese, mussels in wine cream sauce and chilli mussels. I’m sure there were more, my memory escapes me after nearly 10 years.

I’m going to add a separate post for a mussel bobotie recipe soon as I reckon this one is a winner and I don’t know too many people (except for people from Southern Africa) who would have any idea what it actually is.

I remember one time at the Murdoch Student Village when I cooked up pie floaters. I’m going to give you a recipe for this one too in a separate post. Fellow South Australians will remember many a nights stumbling out of the Adelaide casino and stopping at the irresistible pie cart. The pie floater now enjoys heritage listing in South Australia. At the pie cart you would lean against a make-shift bar with a bunch of other incoherent party-goers to order an up-side down pie in pea soup.

It was mandatory to pour tomato sauce (ketchup) all over it. Depending on your taste you could also add some vinegar, mint sauce, pepper and salt. If you had been kindly removed from the casino by security, it probably  meant you were in the state of mind where you didn’t know what you were doing and would add all of the sauces to your pie floater at once, trying to convince the incoherent person next to you that it was a taste sensation. Once finished, it was possible that you might clean up someone else’s who was a little slow. Yes, I have been that person too many times.

This artistic masterpiece of green mush with red sauce and whatever else might have it resembling some form of regurgitation is the ultimate paradox. How can something that looks like the result of your dog overdosing on seaweed be so damn satisfying?

Well, I can honestly say that I’ve seldom had a pie floater sober. I did, however, recreate this spectacular drunken cuisine for a pot luck dinner with a bunch of internationals. I made party pies (little miniature beef pies) and made the pea soup (or mushy peas), which, mind you is made with dried blue peas, not smashed up green peas. It’s a completely different flavour.

The mini pie floaters were a hit… with the Asian crowd at least. Our South East Asian neighbours were not frightened by the repulsive picture that had been presented to them. They thought it was quite interesting. They made comparisons to their red bean deserts. I remembered that Asians have deserts where they use beans, like Ais Kacang in Malaysia and Singapore, sweet red bean deserts in China. No wonder they thought this was acceptable… then again, my Chinese friends love chicken feet so surely sweet blue peas can’t be all that bad.

The rest of the crowd weren’t sure. I realised I had made an awful mistake. What I needed to do was organise a pot-luck pre-party (Scandinavian style). This would comprise of absurd amounts of liquor, drinking games and a loss of memory and inhibitions. I would facilitate a bunch of whacked out, alcohol-induced visually impaired drongo’s. Then and only then would I unleash the floater.

I wouldn’t say the international students didn’t like it, they just didn’t get it. If you weren’t introduced to a pie floater when you were drunk, I can understand that you just wouldn’t get it. So here is my recommendation. Make this recipe when you are planning to head out for a big one. Keep the peas and the pie separate. When you get home reheat the pies and the peas and add them together in a bowl covering the pie with the soup. Add your tomato sauce and let me know what how you fare at the time, and then the next day. I have added a photo for your salivation.

Lastly, I’d like to send out a tribute to my South East Asian friends (and future family). One thing I learnt to expect at a pot-luck dinner was that our South East Asian neighbours, and yes, I mean the Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese would without failure show up with the same dishes every time. If there were 10 Malaysians at a pot-luck you could be sure that 6 or 7 of them would be likely to rock up with chicken wings, grilled or fried? I’m not going to say too much about chicken wings costing $1.99 per kg, or $3.00 if you buy 2kg. Yes, our lovely neighbours know how to cook wings like nobody else. Yes, I’m sure I consumed more than the Weight Watchers recommended annual intake in one helping. When our South East Asian friends would take some time to show us their true cuisine: beautiful curries with roti breads, fried noodles, noodle soups, steamed kuih, this would bring magic to a pot-luck. When I was privileged to experience this beautiful food I knew that South East Asia would be a part of the world I would frequent… and I do. I love you South East Asia!

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One Response to A Tribute to Pot Luck Dinners and Pie Floaters

  1. Quin says:

    Just don’t make the pie floater a First Date meal. Yes OK I maaayyyyy be speaking from experience. Whatever.

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