Gone to marzipan

It’s that time of year: bushfires, barbecues, shops window-dressed with tinsel, fairy lights and fake snow, with chocolates, glacé fruits and marzipan. It’s the season for marzipan. I’m not a fan of white icing, but a festive fruit cake without marzipan is missing something essential. And I can’t imagine Swedish princess cake without its distinctive, green-tinted coat.

The story starts in the Middle East, probably in Persia. Traders or maybe returning crusaders brought the confection west to Europe. One of marzipan’s many origin stories claims it was born in Venice during a great famine. Without flour to make bread, Venetian bakers used ​​ground almonds instead, adding sugar and honey to their dough. Presumably—despite the famine—there was no shortage of nuts or sweeteners? Or is it a case of never let logic get in way of a good myth?

Another marzipan story, very likely apocryphal, takes place during the Wars of Religion (1562-98). Huguenot leader, Gaspard II de Coligny, loved marzipan and the day before an important battle he over-indulged in his favourite delicacy. This gave him such terrible indigestion, he was unable to lead his troops, and the Protestants were defeated.

Marzipan also gets served up in literature. It’s mentioned in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet where Act I Scene V opens with a bit of domestic business:

‘First Servant:
Away with the joint-stools, remove the
court-cupboard, look to the plate. Good thou, save
me a piece of marchpane …

And, à la recherche du massepain … Food and the rituals of the table play a large part in the work of prolific, nineteenth-century writer Honoré de Balzac. (As well as fiction, he co-edited a collection of gastronomic texts.) It was during a stay with friends that Balzac, collecting material for his 1842 novel La Rabouilleuse, discovered Issoudun’s famous marzipan:

Elle tirait d’une armoire une fiole contenant du cassis, une liqueur de ménage faite par elle, car elle en avait eu la recette de ces célèbres religieuses auxquelles on doit le «Massepain d’ Issoudun. Le gâteau d’Issoudun est l’une des plus grandes créations de la confiturerie française et qu’aucun chef d’office, cuisinier, pâtissier ou confiturier n’a pu contrefaire. M. de Rivière, ambassadeur à Constantinople, en demandait tous les ans d’énormes quantités pour le sérail de Mahmoud.

Out of copyright, La Rabouilleuse is available (in French) online. This is my translation of the above passage:

She took a flask containing her homemade blackcurrant liqueur from a cupboard; she had obtained the recipe from those famous nuns to whom we owe credit for ‘Issoudun Marzipan’. This local sweetmeat is one of the greatest creations of French confectionary and one which no chef, cook, pâtissier or confectioner has been able to copy. Monsieur de Rivière, our ambassador in Constantinople, would order enormous quantities of it every year for Mahmoud II’s harem.

Not long after the publication of Balzac’s novel, an enterprising Parisian distributed leaflets announcing that he’d opened opened a shop a selling Issoudon marzipan. His circulars  contained what purported to be an extract or endorsement from Balzac. It wasn’t, but the PR plot paid off. Rumours spread through the capital that Balzac had become a pastry chef and people flocked to the shop on rue Vivienne.

The production of this sweetness flourished across the cities and regional towns of Europe. Eventually spreading further afield to the Americas, Australasia and elsewhere.

Recipes vary. In India marzipan is sometimes made with cashew nuts which are cheaper and more readily obtained than almonds. But the majority of recipes contain three basic ingredients: almond meal, sugar and egg or egg white.

The Green and Gold Cookery Book published in Adelaide in 1923 and reprinted multiple times since, has this recipe for what it calls ‘almond icing’, a term you find in a lot of older English language cookbooks:

One lb. icing sugar, 6-8 ozs. almond meal, yolks of eggs, I tablespoon sherry or orange flower water, 2 tablespoons strained orange or lemon juice. Sift the icing sugar and add it to the almond meal. When well mixed add the yolks of the eggs, the orange flower water, or sherry, and sufficient of the fruit juice to form a firm paste. Turn onto a board well sprinkled with icing sugar and knead it thoroughly.

For me, marzipan is all about the almonds. So I don’t find fruit juice, orange flower water and sherry appealing additions.

Marzipan became a speciality of the German Baltic ports of Lübeck and Königsberg (now Kalingrad and part of Russia). As port cities they were trading hubs with ready access to the necessary ingredients. My preferred marzipan is the kind that comes from Lübeck. It’s made with more almonds, less sugar and no egg.

Yet another origin story says marzipan was invented in Lübeck at the beginning of the fifteenth century. Again during a famine when the only foodstuffs available were sugar and a handful of almonds. Another story that speaks of the hunger and scarcity that haunted medieval life.

Unlike a lot of home-made versions, German (and Danish) marzipan is generally made with the meal of sweet almonds—and a tiny amount of bitter almond, which deepens the flavour.

Almonds come in two kinds, sweet and bitter. Bitter almonds aren’t eaten like the regular nuts, they’re used as a flavouring, more like a spice. In amaretti biscuits, in amaretto liqueur and in a number of traditional dishes. In Australia we grow sweet almonds along the Murray River in Victoria and South Australia. Vast irrigated orchards of densely planted trees. Seas of blossom and stormy debates about water allocation to farmers. Long before the wellness industry seized on all things almond, thereby encouraging a thirsty monoculture, marzipan was a treat to be enjoyed on special occasions.

Botanically speaking, the almond is a peach in disguise. And bitter almonds contain a form of cyanide. Although cooking destroys the poison, the nuts’ sinister reputation persists. Fuelled in part by crime fiction. All those scenes where the detective points out the odour of bitter almonds on a murder victim’s breath.

Back to Lüback where there’s a Museum of Marzipan. Its display includes life-size figures made from marzipan, including one of Nobel laureate Thomas Mann who was apparently very fond of the confection. Madame Tussauds eat your heart out! Who wants wax figures when you can have edible ones? Now, would Thomas Mann miss a finger or two … ?

Risotto rant

I missed the beginning and it’s quite some time ago, so unfortunately I can’t tell you either the name of the radio program or the specific project it was reporting. I can tell you it was a story from a town in northern England about a public education scheme to encourage disadvantaged residents to improve their diet. When I tuned in the group was being taught how to cook risotto.

Ah, risotto … The cook teaching them was adamant that the stock be kept at a steady simmer, and that said stock should be home-made from scratch. No supermarket shortcuts. After the class, the radio producer asked the participants if they would be making that risotto again. The responses were a polite but unequivocal No. Why not? Because it was fiddly and involved a lot of preparation.

Risotto is one of my go-to, quick suppers. This probably makes me sound a bit OCD, but I once road-tested two versions of the same mushroom risotto recipe. One made adding stock kept at a gentle simmer, and one version where I added the same stock but straight from the fridge. Perhaps I have an unsophisticated palate, but I couldn’t taste any difference. If that cooking teacher had offered her class a simpler option would the participants have tried making risotto at home? Maybe.

It was reading Pressure Cooker: Why Home Cooking Won’t Solve Our Problems and What We Can Do About It by sociologists Sarah Bowen, Joslyn Brenton & Sinikka Elliott that reminded me of that risotto episode. Pressure Cooker is a survey of home cooking and it’s a fascinating and engaging read. The book tells the food-stories of nine families, and draws on the researcher-authors’ interviews with over a hundred-and-fifty mothers and grandmothers living in North Carolina. The women were mostly working-class. Time-poor mothers and just plain poor mothers—not the people who generally feature in books about the delights of home cooking or its honeyed past. When housewives spent their afternoons baking and set the table every evening. A past, as Bowen, Brenton and Elliott so deftly point out, that was never one-size-fits-all.

That’s one of the things I particularly like about Pressure Cooker: the way it debunks popular myths, exposes gastronomic magical thinking. Family dinners aren’t a panacea for social ills. Ditto cooking healthy meals at home. Yes, it’s great if we all learn to cook cheap, nutritious dishes, learn to grow our own herbs and shop for in-season vegetables. But let’s not overlook the deeper issues of inequality. There are people who struggle to afford any food, let alone whole ingredients, artisan bread and organic fruit. Not everyone has access to a workable kitchen. How do you prepare supper for your kids with only a single hotplate? What about people working shifts who don’t have control over their schedules? Whose only shop within walking distance is a convenience store selling chips, chocolate and close-to-expiry-date yoghurt?

OK, home cooking alone won’t solve our problems, so what else can we do to improve things? Pressure Cooker’s authors are clear: ‘We need collective solutions that will benefit people across the income spectrum.’ Community gardens, food co-ops, local canteens where you pay what you can, food rescue projects (like OzHarvest), free cooking workshops and more.

Which brings me back to that risotto they were making on the radio and my simmering stock comparison. An experiment that proved—to me at least—that you can make a risotto easily and simply using a single pan. The method may not be chef-approved but you still end up with a dish that’s tasty, inexpensive and not too time consuming.

Working to bring about true food justice starts by trying to understand people and communities … what works for one neighbourhood may not work for another.’

No scones for us

No scones for us—sounds like something out of Alice in Wonderland, doesn’t it?

A bright idea came into Alice’s head. “Is that the reason so many tea-things are put out here?” she asked.
“Yes, that’s it,” said the Hatter with a sigh: “it’s always tea-time … ”

Wednesday afternoon in downtown Sydney we were after a pot of tea and scones. Neither a difficult nor an unusual quest. But it was not to be. At the Westin in Martin Place the only way to obtain a scone was to order their set afternoon tea at (a minimum) $54 per person. Unimpressed with their brazen upselling, we left the Westin and tried the Sheraton on the Park where we’d had tea and scones before. But we were out of luck there as well. Although scones were on the menu, there were none today. The waitress told us we should have phoned ahead. For a pot of tea and a scone at 2:30 pm on a Wednesday afternoon! What’s going on here? Isn’t peak scone-eating time 3:00-5:00 pm? How long would it take to rustle up a batch?

That’s the thing about scones. They’re easy to make, quick to cook—and cheap. Recipes for scones are in every beginners’ cookbook and older cookbooks frequently offer several recipes—plain, date, fruit, savoury, pumpkin and other varieties. When I make them I use a recipe from an early edition of The Australian Women’s Weekly Basic Cookbook. I don’t do a lot of baking, but if you follow the instructions, there’s not much that can go wrong with scones.

The scone is described in culinary references as a quick bread (i.e. breads and bread-like products leavened with agents other than yeast or eggs—namely baking powder or bi-carbonate of soda.) Quick breads are popular with cooks because they can be made quickly and reliably. Unlike traditional yeast breads which involve a measure of waiting.

Traditionally cooked on a griddle, the scone is thought to have originated in Scotland and migrated south. That may be true. Who knows? What we do know is that, as Elizabeth David wrote in English Bread and Yeast Cookery, ‘once you start on scones, where do you stop?’ She recommends anyone interested in such recipes consult The Scots Kitchen (1929) by Miss F Marian McNeill which devotes some fifteen pages to the subject.

Oatcakes, puftaloons, Australian damper—there’s a huge range of breads and scone-like cakes made without yeast.

Whatever its origins, the scone has become the quintessential afternoon tea accompaniment, perfect with a cup of Assam or Darjeeling. I like my scones hot from the oven with butter and either a thin slice of cheese or a generous dollop of jam—blackcurrant and blackberry are my go-to preserves when it comes to scones.

On the Indian-Chinese food trail

It started for me with Meera Sodha’s chilli tofu recipe in The Guardian. Moved on to Tangra Chilli Garlic Prawns at London’s Darjeeling Express before expanding into Amit Chaudhuri’s Calcutta, and my own memory of visiting Kolkata in the late 1990s when my partner was a guest of the Calcutta Film Festival and I tagged along.

It’s crisp, it’s caramelised, it’s spicy and slightly sweet—it’s Indian-Chinese food, a.k.a. Indo-Chinese or Desi-Chinese. It’s the food created by Chinese immigrants in Kolkata that blended Hakka culinary traditions with the fire and vegetables of Indian cuisine.

Chinese migrants arrived in the late eighteenth century, initially as sugar mill workers, then later as leather tanners, carpenters and other small traders. They pulled rickshaws and made shoes and soon became an integral part of the city’s multicultural fabric. The majority were Hakka from what is now Guangdong province, and it’s easy to imagine Kolkata’s Chinatown echoing to the clop of sandals and the click of mah-jong tiles, as workers congregated in local eating houses to swap news and eat dishes that reminded them of home.

Tangra Chilli Garlic Prawns at Darjeeling Express

I like it not only for its hearty taste, but also because it challenges notions of ‘authenticity’. It’s neither echt Chinese, nor Indian as we know it, but something else. A relatively recent cuisine, a kind of culinary fugue, a distinct variety of Hakka cuisine adapted to the Bengali palate. (A fugue is a compositional technique in which a musical theme introduced by one part or voice is taken up by other parts and successively developed.) I wouldn’t call it fusion—which often involves cheffy flourishes and out-there combinations of ingredients—it’s more akin to home cooking. And I’m thinking here of the way home cooks adapt to changed environments and unfamiliar produce, deal with scarcity or glut; the way they use what’s available (and affordable) and make it into something they recognise.

Originally served up to cater for its own community, it wasn’t long before the Indian-Chinese menu found widespread popularity. According to Amit Chaudhuri:

‘Chinese food has long been Calcutta’s favoured foreign cuisine: it belongs to the eternal, and now paradoxically lost, childhood of the Bengali middle class. Its bottles of soya sauce and Han’s chilli sauce, its minutely chopped green chillies swimming in vinegar, its chicken sweet corn soup … ’

(Amit Chaudhuri is something of a favourite writer; his 1993 novella-cum-meditation, Afternoon Raag, is a book I re-read an a regular basis.)

Cities taste of their culinary histories and Sydney is no exception. A quick Google and I’ve located two Indian-Chinese restaurants in the Parramatta/Harris Park area. Already I’m off thinking noodles and fried rice loaded with garam masala and green chillies. Gobi Manchurian, chilli paneer, the kick of cumin and black peppercorns …

Kolkata’s Tangra or Chinatown is apparently changing as younger generations move on. While plans to turn the neighbourhood into a tourist district may slow the exodus, the popularity of Tangra’s unique cuisine continues to grow apace.

I like this Indian-Chinese amalgam it because it remains me that a cuisine is never fixed for all time, that tastes and dishes evolve—and are meant to evolve. And that flavours and cooking techniques change not only because of migration, but for a host of other reasons too.

Sustainable seafood—my correspondence with Coles

Although I prefer to buy my fish fresh, I do like to have some backup options in the freezer. With this in mind I bought a 1 kg pack of Coles Southern Blue Whiting Fillets in early June. I did the usual checks:

Certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)—tick.
Wild caught—tick.
From New Zealand—tick.

One bit of small print I didn’t notice until I got my shopping home was ‘Packed in China’. So on 7 June I wrote a ‘please explain’ letter to Coles Customer Care:

So, the fish is caught in New Zealand waters, sent to China where it is packed and then returned to Australia to be sold in your supermarkets. Why isn’t it processed and packed in this part of the world, in either New Zealand or Australia?

While the actual fish may indeed be sustainably sourced, how does transporting it to China and back constitute an environmentally sustainable practice?

A fortnight later I received this reply.

Coles responded to questions I hadn’t asked—about the quality standards of their supplier’s facility in China—while ignoring the questions I did ask. So I wrote another letter on 24 June asking them to address what I was actually asking. How do all the additional and unnecessary air or sea miles involved in transporting the fish to China and back again contribute to environmental sustainability?

A month later I received a reply. Word for word the same letter they had already sent me. Even the date was unaltered.

On 28 July I wrote a third letter. I reiterated my questions. Pointed out that they were (again) supplying information I had not requested. Asked them not to disregard my query, and to please not send me another form letter.

It’s now the middle of December and I have yet to receive any response from Coles to my third missive. I suspect I won’t. All up, a frustrating and totally unsatisfactory exchange. Coles twice ignored my questions and when I persisted, chose to ignore my letter altogether. Doesn’t say much for their customer relations, does it?

Fallout food

In the fabulous resource that is the National Library of Australia’s Trove, I found this in the Singleton Argus of July 1951:

All Ready For The A-Bomb
Baltimore is the first American city to plan its menu for the first day after an atom-bomb attack. Stew, with coffee, tea or milk, will be dished out from canteens in paper plates and cups. Emergency Food Committee chairman Howard Busick apologised, “We’re not catering to people’s palates, you know. We merely want to keep them alive. [He said] “All food stocks in the city will be immediately commandeered by the authorities after the first bombfall.”

The Australian Women’s Weekly picked up the story.

By the time I was at primary school the Vietnam War had replaced the atomic threat from the Soviet Union as Public Anxiety Number One. But every now and then we’d be reminded of the need to be prepared. Exactly what this preparedness involved was vague, but I do remember being told that we should urge our mothers to keep their cupboards stocked with canned foods, which we’d need in the event of … whatever.

My mother and father probably laughed when I passed on this instruction. But for at least one of my classmates it wasn’t a joke. Everything about Stuart T was big. He was big for his age, he lived in a big house and was given to boasting big time. His family, he told us, had their own bomb shelter. Don’t believe you, we said. Have so. Show us then.

So one day after school he took us down a flight of steps into his family ‘shelter’. Now I think about it I’m pretty sure it was simply a basement with grey concrete walls and shelves of tins—peas, pineapple, potato salad, Fray Bentos corned beef, Heinz baked beans, Campbell’s soups—and bottles of cream soda and ginger beer. More Famous Five than Armageddon. Five Go Into a Fallout Shelter.

Wouldn’t a nuclear attack cut off the power supply? And wouldn’t that mean sitting in your ‘shelter’ eating cold soup? I don’t recall getting satisfactory answers to those questions, but decades later my mother informed me that Stuart T’s parents had died and their house had been sold. Did the new owners know their basement was full of ancient tins of Spam and spaghetti? The Pantry That Time Forgot full of vintage packaging and food way past its use-by date.

Continuing with this theme, I have a booklet from 1964 put out by the US Department of Defense Office of Civil Defense: Fallout Shelter Food Requirements.

‘The purpose of provisioning fallout shelters with food is to provide basic nutritional requirements during the period of confinement so that shelter occupants can resume active and productive lives upon emergence.’

‘Basic requirements for shelter food … are that the food be palatable or at least acceptable to the majority of the shelter occupants; have sufficient storage stability to permit a shelf life of 5 to 10 years; be obtainable at low cost; be widely available or easily produced; have high bulk density to conserve storage space; require little or no preparation; and produce a minimum trash volume … The four food items selected for the provisioning program are as follows:

a. Survival Biscuit. A wheat flour baked product containing small amounts of corn and soy flour developed by the National Biscuit Co. for the New York State Civil Defense Commission.
b. Survival Cracker. A wheat-corn flour baked cracker, similar to the survival biscuit, except that it contains more corn flour and no soy flour, developed by the Midwest Research Institute for the State of Nebraska.
c. Carbohydrate Supplement. Adapted from a standard product in accordance with a military specification and contains sucrose, glucose, and flavorings.
d. Bulgur Wafer. A wheat-based cereal product developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the Office of Civil Defense. The bulgur is parboiled, pulled, dried, and compacted into wafer form.’

Compared to that menu, tinned carrots and rice pudding sound positively ambrosial!

The mutton-fishers

I’ve eaten pāua fritters in New Zealand, had it stir fried and braised in Cantonese restaurants, but however cooked, I can’t honestly say that I’ve ever much liked it. And the photographs that accompany its online recipes do little to increase its appeal.

A is for abalone, and in dictionaries of food and cooking, you’ll find it up there on page 1. An expensive delicacy. Prized by Chinese and Japanese chefs in particular. But my interest in abalone isn’t culinary. I’m coming at it more from a cultural and environmental history perspective.

Abalone is the common name for a number of species of sea snails. Biologists label them marine gastropod molluscs, and they belong to the genus Haliotis—as does pāua. They live along open coastlines in what’s called the swell zone, and to help them hold on to rocks in these waters they’ve developed a large, muscular foot. Unlike scallops or mussels, which have two shells hinged together, abalone and pāua have just the one.

Black lip abalone at the Sydney Fish Market, 2018.

An important part of the diet of indigenous peoples on both sides of the Tasman, pāua shells with their iridescent blue-green lining also feature in Māori art and craftworks.

Although it’s often presented as such, the settler history of Australia was never exclusively British. I’m always alert to stories, snippets and incidental remarks that reveal the cultural diversity of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Australia. That’s how I came across the Chinese mutton-fishers of Tasmania. A 1937 article by Thomas Dunbabin mentions that ‘fifty years ago this south had a Chinese colony … engaged in gathering and curing mutton-fish’. Early Europeans called abalone mutton-fish and found it unpalatable—an opinion shared by Dunbabin who compares its taste to ‘boot-leather’.

In 1860 the Hobart Town Advertiser commented on the presence and enterprise of Chinese fishers and seafood traders on the island. ‘These Chinamen have betaken themselves down the Channel and commenced curing crayfish for the Melbourne market.’

Green-lipped Abalone, Haliotis laevigata, by John James Wild, 1887.

The story of these Chinese mutton-fishers in Tasmania is sketchy; accounts are sparse, written records limited. The Royal Society, at its monthly meeting in March 1869, noted a presentation of ‘two specimens of the dried mutton-fish (Haliotis sp.) prepared by the Chinese at Southport, near Spring Bay.’ In his accompanying explanation Mr Justin Browne wrote that once caught the fish is ‘dried in a slow oven built for the purpose’, then packed for export. In a pre-refrigeration age knowing how to preserve food was an important skill.

Two years later, in his report of recent fieldwork, amateur geologist, occasional poet and prominent Hobart citizen Samuel Henry Wintle wrote:

‘Nestling among a clump of trees on the western shore of the Port, stood a dwelling built of palings, which, I was informed, was the abode of John Ling, a Chinese, whose acquaintance I had made in Hobart Town some months before. John had married a Tasmanian girl—the daughter of one of the residents of the District—and has by her a family of six children. He is employed in fishing for the Chinese market, and drives a very good trade. The mutton fish, as it is locally named—the Haliotis, or sea-ear of the naturalist … [is captured] by spearing … Armed with a long, iron-pointed spear, the fisher thrusts it through the shell, whereupon the mollusc relaxes its hold, and is brought to the surface.’

Jane Grigson’s Fish Book runs well over five-hundred pages, but she gives abalone a mere page-and-a-half. And a single recipe: Ormeaux au Muscadet. (Ormeaux is the French name for abalone.) After pounding the flesh ‘energetically’ it’s prepared with butter, herbs and white wine. Cooking time 30-45 minutes. I’m wary of questioning the great Jane, and perhaps that pounding makes all the difference, but isn’t abalone, like most seafood, best cooked very quickly over a high heat? Or for a long time on a low heat?

Collecting wild abalone wasn’t—still isn’t—an easy task. Dunbabin describes the tragic fate of one Chinese fisherman who put his hand into an open shell: ‘It closed on him, and, in his awkward and constrained position, he could neither withdraw his hand nor wrench the mutton-fish from the rocks. So he was held down till he was drowned by the rising tide.’

I suspect the difficulty of gathering abalone adds not only to its value, but also to its mystique. I’m thinking here of things like the TV series Abalone Wars which followed hardcore dive crews under pressure to meet their multi-million dollar quotas. Or the famous ‘sea-women’ (haenyeo 해녀) of Jeju Island in South Korea who dive without breathing equipment to harvest abalone and other creatures from the ocean floor. (The traditional practice of the haenyeo was added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2016.)

Closer to home, abalone were at the centre of a dispute between commercial interests and native title in a recent ABC news item. Fisheries NSW accused an Aboriginal man of taking too many abalone, in breach of regulations. Fortunately the case against the man—who hails from a long line of Indigenous divers—was dropped.

Nowadays abalone is farmed as well as wild-caught. I live near Sydney’s Fish Market, so the other day I took a short walk to see if abalone was on sale there. It was—frozen.

Frozen abalone at the Sydney Fish Market, 2018.

In Dead Seas: How the fish on our plates is killing our planet, Taras Grescoe says that much of the abalone now sold is poached. From an upscale seafood restaurant in Shanghai where abalone in glass tanks wait ‘to be selected by a diner’, he reveals the worrying fact that ‘China manages to import twice as much Australian abalone as Australians are legally allowed to harvest every year’. Grescoe’s book was published in 2008, but if this 2017 story from the ABC is any indication, the abalone black market is alive and flourishing.

Drama and risk-taking surround abalone, but what does it actually taste like? A bit salty, a bit sweet, somewhere between a scallop and overdone calamari. I didn’t buy it from the Fish Market that day, not because it was frozen, but because I think you can get other types of locally grown seafood that taste much better and cost less.

As for the Chinese mutton-fishers, their business suffered when when the Victorian Government imposed a tariff on seafood in 1872, and then increased it three years’ later. But their pioneering endeavours are remembered—kind of. The name Chinaman’s Bay recalls those who fished off Maria Island. But of those migrants who worked out of Southport or Ketchem Island (the site of Dunbabin’s reference), there’s no trace.