Gravy train; the secrets behind a Ballarat staple

Gravy train; the secrets behind a Ballarat staple Pictures by Justin Whitelock and Jeremy Bannister.
Nanjing Night Net

Pictures by Justin Whitelock and Jeremy Bannister.

Pictures by Justin Whitelock and Jeremy Bannister.

Pictures by Justin Whitelock and Jeremy Bannister.

Pictures by Justin Whitelock and Jeremy Bannister.

Pictures by Justin Whitelock and Jeremy Bannister.

Pictures by Justin Whitelock and Jeremy Bannister.

Pictures by Justin Whitelock and Jeremy Bannister.

Pictures by Justin Whitelock and Jeremy Bannister.

Pictures by Justin Whitelock and Jeremy Bannister.

Pictures by Justin Whitelock and Jeremy Bannister.

TweetFacebookIN an age dominated by Masterchef and molecular cuisine, few things hit the comfort food button quite like old fashioned gravy. Whether your preference is for jus, gravy or simply sauce Jack Callil learns a few secrets about a winter warmer. Pictures by Justin Whitelock and Jeremy Bannister

Most people refer to the gravy that “mother used to make” but for Fiona at Breezway this was a tough starting point; her mother’s gravy was dreadful.

More Ballarat Food stories, photos and videos here.

But it turned out for the best, her mother’s penchant for packeted variety of gravy has motivated Fiona now to always make it from scratch.

Cooking for the marginalised and homeless at Breezeway, it’s Fiona’s Sunday roast that draws up to almost 100 regulars every week.

“I remember my mother always buying those frozen peas and packeted gravy,” she said.

“Anyone can open a packet though, but it takes something more to make a real gravy.”

Ballaratians know that it’s that authentic, golden-brown nectar that flows strong through our veins.

A mere whiff and we’re back at the dinner table.

We see our mothers loading up behemoth piles of vegies, our fathers picking meat out from between their teeth.

We hear our siblings fight to the death over first use of the gravy boat.

We know it’s what we rely on each Ballarat winter more than our calloused skin, steel hearts and industrial beanies.

As far back as we can remember, we’ve gone ga-ga for that godly concoction of flour, salt, a little red wine and a debatable dollop of tomato sauce.

For Fiona, she knows it’s what keeps us going.

“Everyone here always wants extra with their meals, you can never have enough,” she said.

Fiona said it was her culinary passion that motivates her to volunteer at Breezeway, and her earliest memory of cooking involved gravy.

“Our family used to have Sunday roast every week together, hands-down, no exceptions,” she said.

“Sure, mum had her own way of making it but I suppose that’s what makes it special. It’s the family recipe.”

Every week Fiona continues that tradition, with her kids coming over to regularly share a roast.

“They eat and run,” she said.

However, there’s no place for tomato sauce in her recipe, not when you can use lemon or chilli flakes instead.

“Yuck! It’s just a paste. It’s not a real thing. I’d never put it in my gravy,” she said.

Fiona, BreezwayMore Ballarat Food stories, photos and videos here.

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