By Tim Hazell
A yers Rock — known to the aboriginal people as Uluru — is a world renowned feature of the Australian landscape. It is a large sandstone rock outcropping in the continent’s central Northern Territory, part of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Uluru is a sacred site for the local Anangu people. The imposing section that is considered a natural wonder is some 350 meters high and eight kilometers around, the protrusion of a much larger underground formation.
Uluru legends abound, such as this one; “Uluru rose up as a mark of grief of the land at the bloodshed of a great battle. Two tribes of ancient spirits were invited to a feast but were distracted by lizard women and did not arrive at their destination. This snub to their hosts resulted in a conflict during which many were slain.”
Ayers Rock is of great importance to the legends of the Dreamtime, from the Australian indigenous word Alcheringa, used by the aboriginal tribes of Central Australia. Its meaning is complex, having to do with uncreated, eternal beings that inhabit a realm where time is suspended. Creation is believed to have been the toil of primal heroes traveling through landscapes without form, erecting sacred sites as they advanced. Songlines or Yiri, also known as the dreaming trails of Spirit Beings, unraveled across the continent. Their physical remains can be seen as manmade hand and footprints, left as petroglyphs among unusual natural formations.
Early Australian settlers had to contend with a climate of extremes. Once ranches for herds of cattle and sheep were established and fruit-growing areas spread, Australia’s bounty gave rise to a unique gastronomy. This wonderful and refreshing recipe dates from the 19th century. Tender pears and quenching citrus create a scintillating blend of fruit flavors!
4 large oranges
1 or 2 limes
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. honey
4 Tbsp. granulated (white) sugar
Pears should be of uniform size, ripe but firm. Grate rind from all the oranges into a bowl. Cut remaining white skin and pith from two of the oranges.
Remove the flesh from the segments, leaving the membranes behind. Chop the flesh into small pieces. Put into another bowl with the brown sugar and honey.
Squeeze juice from remaining two oranges and lime, stirring, into the bowl containing the orange rind. Stir in the granulated sugar. Core and peel the pears. Set them upright in a buttered oven-proof dish that holds them snugly. Fill pear cavities with the orange flesh mixture, pour over the sugared juices and top each pear with a whole clove. Cover with a lid or foil and bake in a moderate 325 F oven for 30 minutes to one hour, basting the pears with the juice occasionally. The time cooking is according to the ripeness of the pears; when done they should feel tender when pierced with a sharp knife. Cool, and then chill thoroughly. Serve with cream.