We entertained at home a lot in the Army, a long time ago

Fraternal best wishes to all


Don’s Diary

Diarists like me do not aspire to the balanced responsibility of the Editorial writers or the often crusading driven or elitist feature article writers. We make jottings as you will find in any dairy and unless there is a particular matter of interest or concern it will include many topics. You will not find the studied prose of an essayist because a diarist is writing for him or herself. In submitting my dairy to the Editor of the Devotion Newsletter I am sharing some of my thoughts with you. Such is my diary this month – all over the place and not addressing anything in particular. If I am wasting space in the Newsletter please tell the Editor and I will not be offended.

We seem to have had a fair diet of the importance of ritual recently. Of all our ritual, the First Degree Tracing Board relies on many references in the Old Testament but it fails to quote on a matter which is very dear to most Freemasons’ hearts – I mean Ecclesiastics and Isaiah, “Eat, drink and be merry….”. This encourages us to enjoy life as much as possible because it will soon be over and I would have thought that it would apply to Freemasons at least as much as to any society of men because of our special bonds. We are told in the ritual that we should be happy and to communicate happiness to others but this does not cover our responsibility to enjoy good food and wine.

We entertained at home a lot in the Army, a long time ago. It was usually with a cocktail party or a formal dinner. Sometimes it was more for duty than desire. Pre-dinner nibbles were a welcome sight if the hostess did not have a good reputation as a cook - we discarded the practice of serving them, as they tended to ruin ones’ appetite for the meal. We would always serve three of four small courses, thus “staging” the meal and planning time for conversations between courses.

My memorable meals include eating a home cooked Indian curry meal in our laps in 1961 in Grik, Malaysia, in the then remote Northern Malaysian village near our base camp which comprised attap (bamboo and palm leave) huts. The village doctor prepared the curries served on a banana leaf and fingers were used, not knives and forks. Another was in 1971 on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal at Colon, watching the sunset from the waterfront, drinking local beer and eating seafood. Then there was a late evening meal in the year 2000, as is the Spanish custom, 150km south of Barcelona at a fishing village at San Carlos de la Rapita – Mediterranean mussels followed with fish paella with the local Catalonian wine (a total of $55 Au as I recall including the wine!). Another more recent one was at our Romsey farm this year with some other motoring enthusiasts where Yvonne prepared mussels with butter, garlic and shallot sauce, a saddle of home bred two-tooth lamb (Dorset over a X-bred Merino) and rosemary, with roast vegetables followed by apple pie and cream – and Macedon Ranges regional wine of course. Invariably these occasions became memorable, not just because of the food but, because of the wine, the company and the venue.

More routinely we still like La Porchetta’s in Rathdowne Street (large Neapolitan pizza, coffee and a litre of house red for $20), and Amici’s in Burke Road Camberwell for good Italian food and a candle lit dinner. We have discovered the student, authentic Chinese/Malay (“Singapore Malay” I believe) “Red Bean” in Burwood Road opposite Swinbourne and for the first time we, two of us, ordered two main courses and took one away in a take-away box because of the volume. Fu Long in Box Hill is also good for yum cha, can cost as little as $10 per head and you are likely to be the only westerners there but make sure that you book. All these provide value for money.

A good supper is essential for a successful lodge meeting. Simple plain food is all that is needed. Freemasonry is about people enjoying themselves so our Grand Master says.