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Enough COVID carbs, it’s time for some lockdown lettuce

We need go back only a few years earlier for a saucy continental dish, pasta puttanesca. Literally translated as pasta of ladies of the night or prostitute’s pasta. Frances Segan, author of Italian cookery books, dates this sauce back to World War II, a relatively newcomer on the pasta sauce scene.

Bunny chow is not a rabbit hunter’s stew but a hollowed out loaf of bread into which curry is poured.

Shepherd’s pie is another dish whose name positively oozes history, but again is relatively modern. Originating in Britain or Ireland, its mashed potato top immediately dates it after Walter Raleigh introduced the potato into the English diet in 1589. It appears to be a variation on cottage pie – a dish made with leftovers by worker’s families who then lived in cottages. Possibly the shepherd was added when lamb rather than beef became the preferred ingredient. Presumably shepherds would have eaten it, but so would many other workers.

Bunny chow is not a rabbit hunter’s stew, but appears to be a meal favoured by Gujarat merchants in India and popularised by Indian South Africans in Durban. It consists of a hollowed out loaf of bread into which curry is poured. It was a form of fast and easily transportable food to labourers in sugar cane plantations. This seems to be another recent addition, dating from the 1940s.

Snacking on junk food may be among pitfalls when working from home.

Snacking on junk food may be among pitfalls when working from home.Credit:Kerrie Leishman

Fish and chips may not be directly associated with an occupation, but they have been credited by Professor John Walton, author of Fish and Chips and the British Working Class with “bringing contentment and staving off disaffection” amongst the British working class during World War I. They were one of the only foods that were not rationed during the next encounter in 1939. Again surprisingly, this famous double act of fish and potato originates as recently as the 1860s, and by 1879, a Greek migrant had opened a fish and chip shop on Oxford Street in Sydney.

For reasons known only to cussed Australian fish shop owners, most are ignorant of the delights of the traditional accompaniment, mushy peas (aka Yorkshire Caviar). Except even these seem to be a very modern thing, with no reliable records beyond the 1970s, which seems unbelievable.

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One thing is certain, as work has reached its sedentary zenith in the lockdown, with much of it performed in pyjamas, we no longer need these industrial loads of carbs. We need new meals like “lockdown lettuce”, “COVID celery crush” or “stay-at-home steamed spinach”. Yeah right.

Jim Bright, FAPS is Professor of Career Education and Development at ACU and owns Bright and Associates, a Career Management Consultancy. Email to opinion@jimbright.com. Follow him on Twitter @DrJimBright

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