Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pastizzi are calling me

Last week I joined my academic host--Shaun Ewen--for a drive up to Shepparton to meet with a couple of people working with the Rumbalara indigenous community there.  Just before leaving Shaun stopped for a coffee and in the shop I saw a tray of fresh pastizzi. Now there is nothing that says comfort food more than pastizzi. These are filo pastry wrapped around ricotta cheese with parsley. Some are made with mushy peas in a slightly curried sauce. So I asked where they got them from, and later I googled the name, I found that the shop is in Sunshine, Melbourne.

The latest  Australian Census in 2006 recorded 43,700 Malta-born people in Australia,  a  decrease  of 7.0 per  cent  from the 2001 Census. The 2006 distribution  by state and territory showed Victoria had the largest number with 20,850, followed by New South Wales (16,980),  Queensland (2,780) and South Australia (1,630). Within Victoria, Melbourne is home to more Maltese than anywhere else in Australia. By 1981, the suburbs most popular for the Maltese in Melbourne were: Sunshine, Keilor, Broadmeadows, Altona, Whittlesea, Preston, Springvale, Coburg, Melbourne city (CBD), and Footscray with concentrations ranging from 505 to 6,895. In some areas Maltese make up to 7.3% of the total population. Keilor has 30.2% of its population born overseas with Italy, Malta and Yugoslavia being the main ethnic groups. In Sunshine, 33.3% of the population was born overseas of which the main ethnic groups are Maltese, Yugoslavs and Italian.

So today, armed with my recently purchased bike I headed to Sunshine.A cold but thankfully dry day. Eight miles of fairly industrialized vista and armed with my inability to read maps --and therefore I do not carry one-- I felt like an intrepid and extremely unqualified explorer.

I managed to find the shop on the first go. It was closed with no times posted. Not dampening my spirits, having survived another excursions without a map, I toured the small busy town center. A  lively shopping precinct primarily populated with Vietnamese bakeries and restaurants. Not what I expected from the census. There was no mention of a Vietnamese wave of immigrants, but then again, it is always different experiencing something directly, rather than googling it. Now if I can experience some pastizzi.

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