Bandung to Bali vii – Birthday Bolognese – 30 January 1973

Birthday Bolognese

Birthday Bolognese 30 January 1973

I wake with cool air on my face and the sharp smell of eucalyptus. I smile at the thought there may be a chance of rain.

“Double figures!” Dad brings me breakfast on the special tray – Weetbix and toast with Vegemite. “Happy birthday Chas,” he plants a fuzzy beard-y kiss on my head.

Dad picks Bart up from the cot just as he starts to kick and cry. “Better change you mate,” he winces and lifts Bart’s sausage pink body over his shoulder.

“What do you want to do for your birthday darl?” Mum comes in – her hair full and tousled.

“Mum, can I have spaghetti bolognese for tea?”

“Yes I think that’s possible,” she smiles and turns to go,

“Anything else?”

“Ice-cream with chocolate sauce?”

“Yes of course.”

“And mum?”


“Can we have the real, really long spaghetti?”


“And can you not cut it up – the spaghetti?”

“Well you’re a big girl now. You don’t need your spaghetti cut up.”

And so after I eagerly open my presents  – some flares from mum with loopy ribbon on the sides and some paints and pencils from Dad, a new pair of bathers from the boys  – I get my long awaited present, the best plate of spaghetti bolognese ever.

Mum piles the deep red sauce up high over the long strands of spaghetti which ooze and wriggle to escape.

I stab and curl the spaghetti over and over my fork. Matt and I try to see who can get the most on our forks and into our mouths in one go.



We grew up mainly on a meat and three veg diet. Usually the meat was lamb chops and veg was potato, carrots or pumpkin and frozen peas. Dessert was ice-cream or cream with canned peaches. On Sunday we had the same four staple foods, but they were roasted instead of grilled and boiled.

Occasionally we’d have Chinese food, which we collected in our own saucepans, and we always had fish and chips on Friday. This wasn’t so easy to do in Rowville because these sort of shops were a long way away.

Spaghetti was probably quite expensive and, as far as my mum knew, olive oil was something you bought at a chemist to pour into your kid’s ear to cure ear ache. So real spaghetti bolognese – not SPC spaghetti in a tin – was a real treat for me.

We didn’t know it then, but soon our 1973 Australian taste-buds were going to get the shock of their lives.


I found another lovely blog by David – the  Inner City Cook from Sydney- giving homage to the humble ‘spag bol’ experience, which I’m sure so many of us share

My first spaghetti experience was at our Italian neighbours at our old house. One Sunday after mass I (secretly) went in to this wonderful household and was served an amazing bowl of long hollow pasta coated in olive oil and garlic – it was unbelievable. I then had to go home and try to eat all my roast dinner up …

2 thoughts on “Bandung to Bali vii – Birthday Bolognese – 30 January 1973

  1. the meat & three veg a day thing I can really relate to & the fact that it was roasted on a Sunday – same food different overcooked method! And Chinese food (not really chines) and fish & chips as a ‘special’ treat – so Australian!! Great post 🙂


    • Hi Dawn
      Yes it’s amazing we grew to adulthood! By complete contrast – at my (very nice surprise) birthday in the garden this week we had food from Greece, Italy, Asia – very different now! We’re lucky to live in an amazing city with so many wonderful fresh food markets and cafes/restaurants. Still love a good spag bol and a home cooked lamb roast of course!


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