What survived thousands of miles and months of transportation in order to reach New Zealand’s soldiers in World War I? Love, hope and a lot of butter.
Or so I figure, as I warily squeeze more Golden Syrup into the cookie mixture I’m preparing for ANZAC Day. While wearing small crepe poppies is a common form of tribute, I’ve decided to bake.
However, my unfamiliarity in the kitchen is nearly equal to my lack of knowledge about the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (hence ANZAC), and the harrowing Gallipoli battle that burned their reputation into New Zealand’s identity. So, while I form a troop of dough patties, I read.
“On 25 April 1915, soldiers of Australia and New Zealand landed on a tiny beach on the Gallipoli Penninsula of Turkey. . .”
Statistics and dates jumble with recipe measurements. 1 1/2 cups of sugar; 8556 Kiwis sent to clear an Allied route through the Dardenelles. 3/4 cups of rolled oats; 9 months of disorganized trench warfare. Melt butter and Golden Syrup; at the end of the campaign, a New Zealand casualty list of nearly 7500.
More details emerge: a supposedly simple recipe for victory, failed and fated to become one of the bloodiest and most infamous battles of that first Great War.
Today, on the centennial anniversary of the ANZAC debut, a batch of crumbly cookies stands as my metaphor for the national holiday.
And while records dispute whether these were actually sent to the men who stare at me from black and white photos, or merely the necessity of war rationing at home, I don’t think it matters.
“War destroyed their ambitions and plans but all these years later it is important that we remember that they were more than just names on a war memorial.”
Through this foreign act of homemaking, I remember the thousands of unknown soldiers and the families they left behind. I envision the mothers and sisters who carefully weighed each gram of butter, desperate to create something that would taste of home, even on Turkish soil.
And, as my teeth sink into the still warm treats, I wonder if these little gestures will ever be worthy of theirs.
Text from: The Anzacs at Gallipoli, by Chris Pugsley and John Lockyer