EVERY CULTURE HAS RECIPES where everyone gets to be an expert. They’re the ones where there’s no particular recipe, but you kind of know what to expect, and where the whole exercise in cooking becomes a self-reinforcing cliché. Clemenza’s meatballs in The Godfather are are the perfect example; the roly-poly gangster gives a cute little New York Italian lecture on criminal patriarchy, he sugars the chopped meat, then they go and kill some people. It’s culture, self-representation and wrapped in a fork-sized meat ball!

Except sometimes it’s more complicated than that. I understand that rissoles are one of the many Anglo-Indian recipes that white people in this country stole expropriated appropriated ruined discovered in the colonial period. At least I think I’ve seen someone from Goa make an Indo-Portuguese rissole on SBS, I could be wrong: my early twentieth century ancestors weren’t nearly as fussy about ethnic authenticity as the current crowd. In any case, this quasi-recipe is of the style of White People’s Cooking, whose Bible is the Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbook, and whose highest spectacle is the communal sausage sizzle of fried meat and bread. It’s the distinct but not very refined cuisine that parents of Strine families teach their children, and that the film The Castle cruelly, shamefully and unfairly mocked.

Meatloaf! Tomato sauce! Hey Hey It’s Saturday! How very hilarious! Come on. It’s an honourable tradition, a potentially very delicious tradition, and one I hope to come back to.

This one, like all of its kind, is simple. You need a recipe that you can use with old or tinned meat, that uses otherwise pretty cheap ingredients and a mode of serving that suits easy division amongst a group.


2 small tins of tuna (about 100gm each, I think?)
1 small onion
1 clove garlic
2 slices of bread
1 egg
1 small tomato
Oregano, chopped
Parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper

Rissoles on a plate

Dice the onion up very finely and fry it up with the garlic. While it’s going, grate the two slices of bread and put it, the tuna, the tomato chopped finely, a cracked egg and the oregano (from your plant in the garden, which is conveniently going crazy in the nice spring weather we’re having) and the salt, pepper and parsley in a bowl. When the onions and garlic are brown, drop them in the bowl with everything else, mash them up with your hands. Make little balls with your hands, roll them in flour, then fry them in more olive oil than is really recommended by most dieticians.

We had these with pasta and a green salsa of onions and olives and the rest of the parsley, but I didn’t note the final ingredients and quantities. In any case the accompaniment isn’t the point. A rissole is what it is.

I’m Liam, and this is my story.



Add a comment

This is a gravatar

Fyodor · 21 September 2012, 11:00 · #

Too close for rissoles; switching to puns.

This is a gravatar

Liam · 21 September 2012, 14:28 · #

Bit disappointed you couldn’t have rolled a bit more innuendo into that contribution, Sideshow.

This is a gravatar

Fyodor · 21 September 2012, 18:34 · #

Innuendo from rolling meat balls? Heh: “I see your schtick is as worn as mine.”

Anyhoo, who makes rissoles out of tuna, FFFS? You might as well make gefilte fish, Hogan Oy Vey.

This is a gravatar

FDB · 27 September 2012, 18:27 · #

Indeed Fyodor, a fish rissole is a patty, surely.

Anyhoo, see you round…

This is a gravatar

FDB · 2 October 2012, 18:54 · #

So how do rissoles taste made from Hawk mincemeat, Hoges?

This is a gravatar

Liam · 4 October 2012, 15:25 · #

Stand by for my next instalment, Hefty.


Commenting is closed for this article.