Writer, Reader, Tea Drinker, Chrononaut

Category: F1 cookbook

Kangaroos, koalas, and Marmite, oh my!

Melbourne dinner, and so very Aussie

Aussie Aussie Aussie! The third race of the 2024 F1 season took place in Melbourne, Australia, and wow, was it a doozy (race details at the end of the post). And honestly, so was the food!

I researched the “national dish” of Australia, and overwhelmingly, Australians say “roast lamb”. So for a second race in a row, we had lamb (not that I’m complaining). Instead of going “roast,” we went with a slow cooker approach. I will admit I wasn’t entirely sure this was the way to go, but my co-driver (who was doing the cooking, since I was doing the baking) had the final call. Luckily, it was a good call!

What goes with lamb? According to Australians, roasted potatoes (they do like their roasting!), so we had those as a side dish. Then because I have a requirement for a vegetable at meals (preferably green), my co-driver included a side of sauteed green beans (with fresh lemon juice, olive oil, butter, salt, and pepper, and knowing my co-driver, probably garlic).

Accompanying this delectable dinner was a lovely bottle of Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz, which I found covered in dust in our pantry (probably having moved with us eight years ago). So Australian wine to go with dinner! I love serendipity.

For dessert, I was deciding between Pavlova, ANZAC biscuits, and Lamingtons, only to discover that Australia and New Zealand argue rather heatedly about who gets to claim origin rights to Pavlova and ANZAC biscuits. However, Lamingtons are definitively Australian, so decision made! Besides, what’s not to love about a fluffy yellow cake square (well, rectangle) rolled in chocolate sauce, then dipped in shredded coconut? Answer: nothing! These were excellent.

There was one more thing I had to try: Marmite. I’d tried Vegemite when I was in London years ago and found it utterly disgusting (sorry, Vegemite-lovers). But after ~30 years, maybe my taste buds have changed? With that thought in mind, and with the discovery that Marmite and Vegemite are NOT the same thing (Marmite was the original, then Vegemite came out as ‘Marmite with vegetables’), and that Marmite is supposedly sweeter than Vegemite, perhaps Marmite might be more to my taste?

Answer: no.

I spread the Marmite on toasted homemade bread and tried it and gave up. It was just too salty for me (which is saying something), and had a funky taste that was familiar, but that I couldn’t name. It turns out that taste was something very similar to tamari, which I generally enjoy, but perhaps not thick on toast. Also, I found out later that a thin schmear of Marmite is the way to go, and may actually be edible (and not my ‘spread it like jam’ attempt).

Live and learn.

So overall, this page of the F1 cookbook was a rousing success. Much like Carlos Sainz’s win!

Race details: Driver Carlos Sainz had to bow out of the previous race (Saudi Arabia) due to appendicitis. Two weeks after his appendectomy, he arrives in Australia looking a little tender. AND YET! The Spaniard ends up qualifying for 2nd place on the grid for the start of the race. Not bad, eh? Things get even better when F1 Wunderkind (and annoying ‘gets all the pole positions, wins all the races’) Max Verstappen had to quit the race on lap 4 because his car was literally on fire (well, the brakes, but still). Spoiler: Carlos wins!

Add to that the fight on the last lap between Fernando Alonso and George Russell–and George deciding to crash his car rather than accept that Alonso is just a better driver than he is (at the age of 42, Alonso is the Old Man of F1 — yay for old age and treachery!). The race marshalls gave Alonso a 20-second penalty for “driving in a potentially dangerous manner” (aka RACING), which bumped him down from a 6th place finish to 8th.

(Side note: George has crashed his car in each of the three races that Carlos has won. Coincidence? Hmm.)

Then there were the mind bogglingly horrific pit stops for the Sauber team. Even Valteri Bottas’s crazy Uber ad couldn’t make up for the Sauber performance. Is Sauber trying to destroy the team before Audi takes over in 2026? Enquiring minds want to know.

Next up: the Suzuka Circuit in Japan! I’m thinking katsu curry, but my co-driver has murmured sushi. Regardless, there will be Japanese beer (Kirin? Sapporo?).

It’s lights out and away we go

Kabsa, tomato-cucumber salad, and Shiraz wine

Jeddah race dinner (well, made after the race)

I’ll admit that I’ve become a bit of a Formula 1 fan over the past few years, to the point that yes, I pay for the full F1 streaming subscription so I can watch ALL of the race lead-up content* as well as archived races when it isn’t a race weekend**.

So yeah, you could say that F1 has become an obsession for me.

Another obsession fascination of mine is world travel and culture. While I have my passport and desire to see the world, alas time hasn’t necessarily been on my side. So I do a lot of armchair travel, and F1 is great for that. Heck, the 2024 season has 24 races around the world, from the Middle East to North America to Europe to Asia to Latin/South America.

And then I had a thought: what if I learned about the countries where the races are held (hello, Bahrain and Azerbaijan!)? And what if I learned through their food?

Thus my version of an “F1 Cookbook” was born.

Unfortunately, I had this thought after the first race (Bahrain), but not to worry! I vowed to start with Race #2: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. A little research informed me that the national dish of Saudi Arabia is Kabsa, a one-pot rice dish with meat, nuts, raisins, and a whole host of warming spices (cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and more). Round that out with “Arab Salad” (standard tomato-cucumber chopped salad) and some baklava and we’re good!

A quick stop at the local Middle Eastern market saw me trundling home with a jar of kabsa spice blend***, basmati rice (brown, which will play into the story), veg (cucumbers, carrots, parsley), a package of pistachio baklava****, and THE BEST RAISINS EVER (seriously).

With the able assistance of my infinitely better half (note: he did the cooking; I did all the sous-cheffing and the tomato-cucumber salad), after, oh, about 5 hours we had ourselves a Dutch oven’s worth of Kabsa, along with a house that delightfully smelled like a Middle Eastern restaurant. There were slight hiccups with the rice: 1) using brown basmati rice increased the cooking time, and 2) mixing up the the burners so that the “medium high” setting ended up under the sauce pan and the “keep it barely noticeably warm” setting ended up under the rice. Thankfully, this was noticed in time before the sauce burned. Everything turned out all right, if slightly delayed.

The final dish was a complex combination of savory and sweet (those raisins packed a punch!), smooth and crunchy (thank you to the oil-toasted nuts), with a little heat and gentle hints of warm desert winds and camel snorts (in a good way). The hot rice dish contrasted nicely with the light and cool chopped tomato-cucumber salad. We enjoyed a lovely Shiraz with it, which accentuated the raisin notes from the Kabsa, and then finished the evening with the pistachio baklava.

It was a sweet ending, much like F2 driver Oliver Bearman’s performance as a last-minute replacement for Carlos Sainz for Ferrari*****. The 18 year-old British kid got one practice session, then placed 11th in qualifying, AND THEN finished 7th in the race, scoring more points in one race (and his first F1 race!) than Haas’s Kevin Magnussen or Williams’ Logan Sargeant****** did in the entire 2023 season.

Ahem.

For an experiment and test of concept, I’d have to say this “F1 Cookbook”concept worked really well, and I’m curious to explore more new dishes.

Next race: Melbourne, Australia (March 24). And no, there will be no ‘shrimp on the barbie’.

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*The preview of the weekend show, all of the practice sessions, preview of the qualifying session, then the qualifying session, then the post-qualifying session review, the pre-race show, the actual race, then the post-race show. Yes, it does take up the entire weekend.

**I started with the 2007 season, and have watched every race up through 2014 Austria as of last weekend (because there was no 2024 race to watch).

***Because I’m lazy at heart, and trying to find all of the spices to make my own mix, including dried black lime, would have been incredibly time-consuming.

****Again, see comment about my laziness because I was not going to make baklava myself this time.

*****What is it with F1 drivers and appendicitis?

******Will someone PLEASE tell me why Sargeant is still in F1? WHY???

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