For my part, Christmas in Australia wouldn’t be complete without German stollen and gingerbread, Italian panforte and prosecco, at least one very British mince-pie and some prawns fresh from the Pacific. In particular, Christmas isn’t Christmas without cherry salad.
Australians are great at tradition. The 97% of us who are immigrants hold on to the random little ceremonies and customs that our parents, grandparents or great-great-great-grandparents brought with them on the boats to their new country. Every year, we get them down, dust them off and display them for all our friends to see and taste. We protect them against our neighbours’ slightly different relics. But slowly all our random little traditions merge together to create holidays and festivals that are uniquely Australian.
I always thought that this cherry salad was traditional Australian Christmas fare. My great-aunt made it for our family Christmas every year when I was a child. It would sit somewhere between the cold ham and the cold prawns. My mum has abandoned the ham, but kept up the tradition of the cherries.
This year, she made the salad with cherries that Ila and I picked ourselves at Marble Hill Cherries. When I asked Helen, my mum’s friend who runs the orchard, where this Christmas salad might have originated, she said that as far as she knew it was peculiar to my family.
I’m going to write to my great-aunt to ask her where the salad comes from, but in the meantime I will share the recipe here so that it can better join the swirling mass of traditions that make up an Australian Christmas.
- 1.5 kg cherries
- 125 grams shelled walnuts
- 3/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1 cup sour cream
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- salt and pepper
Rinse and dry the cherries. Remove the stalks and the stones. Chop the nuts coarsely. Mix together the sour cream, lemon juice, sugar and salt and pepper. Fold the dressing into the remaining salad ingredients, reserving a small handful of parsley for garnishing.