BOB WILSON'S POP-UP JOURNEY
An epic journey. With each dish I told a little more of Bob Wilson's life. Who knew he would be there in all the major battles of World War II, hence the ridiculous number of courses.
In the middle of the table stands a Banksia seed pod. The area BOB WILSON spent time walking and ruminating on his life is home to the Banksia flower. https://www.eco-le.com/product-page/banksia-aroma-diffuser-pod
Bob joined the Durham light infantry (9th Lancers) at 18. At 23 war broke out and he was one of the boys, during those uncertain and terrible days, on the beaches of Dunkirk waiting for a boat to take him safely back to Dover (to fight another day)
FIRST COURSE: DUNKIRK, courgette roulade with horseradish cream cheese, smoked salmon and red peppers.
(symbolism: courgettes (French), Horseradish (British), smoked salmon (sea and smoke from firepower) roasted red peppers (the fallen)).
Field Marshall Montgomery spoke highly of the Durham Light Infantry. Fighting men who were not fazed by the battle, determined to reach their objective. The 2nd battle of Al Alamein was the first victory for the Allied forces and the end to Axis power in North Africa.
2ND COURSE: AL ALAMEIN (2nd battle)
Baba ganoush (roast aubergine with tahini) topped with Kibbeh (burger and meat shell with spiced meat interior with pine nuts and bird currants).
(Symbolism: roasted aubergines (all those men, (hard not to smile of that imagery), topped by a bomb that explodes with pieces that scatter, sumac to mark the fallen, fresh salad - a fresh taste as the first battle won by the Allies).
Bob was instructed to teach his men Italian for the next stage of battle. He was only ever 2 chapters ahead of his men. The invasion of Sicily was a bloody battle and Bob was sent with his battalion to take the Island. Once secured he returned to England. Other battalions went on to Italy and within 2 months Italy surrendered.
3RD COURSE: INVASION OF SICILY
(invented in Turin, Mussolini born in the North-ish part- a sweet victory - to be honest I had a lot of egg yolks left over and making this symbolism work was a stretch).
Bob was part of the massive Normandy landings in June 1944. Their mission was to take the French peninsula and head to Belgium and the low lands. 2 months into the mission Bob was shoot. He was out of the war and recuperating when the war ended in Europe on 7th May 1945. His battalion was one of the first to enter German soil and were in Hamburg when peace was declared.
4TH COURSE: D-DAY LANDINGS
Beef stock French onion soup with cheese crouton
(Symbolism: boats across the channel)
Bob joined the Intelligence service. He was sent to Singapore to oversee the trials and hanging of Japanese War criminals. Singapore was the main base for most of the crimes committed in Asia. 133 war crimes and Bob had to witness the hangings at Changi prison. It broke him when he saw boys as young as 16 executed for following orders. He saw this as revenge and without honor. During this time he married Margaret and went to a base in Butterworth Penang. His first son needed an operation and the family went to the UK for the surgery.
5TH COURSE: JAPANESE TRIALS
Sushi 3 ways, Egg, oyster mushroom, sesame. Tuna mayonnaise, capers, gerkins red peppers. Salmon gravlax, cream cheese, avocado with finger limes.
(Symbolism: apart from the obvious Japanese connection, the only other thing is in the Tuna roll. Bob's youngest son Linfield made the best tuna sandwiches).
Bob left the army. After 2 years in the UK he, his wife and son returned to Singapore.Bob set up a maritime security company. He fought pirates in the South China Sea and the straits of Malacca.He boarded ships before dangerous sailings, with men and guns they saw ships through the dangerous waters. The pirates were afraid of him and called him Jungut (meaning beard (he had a goatee and mustache). One of the skills of The Durham Light Infantry was their gun accuracy, hence the fears of the pirates. In 1970 his office was raided for weaponry. At his trial he retained David Marshall (ex Chief Minister of Singapore and the countries best defense lawyer). Bob was acquitted mostly because the court understood that Bob and his company was an asset to fighting piracy. Bob's company was doing well and life was good.
He was still very British in his choice of food except for Sunday lunch. He always loved a Chicken curry.
MAIN COURSE: SINGAPORE SUNDAY LUNCH.
Spiced turmeric rice. Egg sambal. Potato cooked in curry then roasted. Chicken Curry Kay, Green bean and pineapple sambal served with sambal oelek, peanuts and fried ikan bills.
Bob hated corruption and in the early 70s he wrote a letter to the anti-corruption unit naming 10 men involved in corruption in the Automobile Association. Their names were leaked to them and these 10 men brought defamation suits against Bob. He won the first and lost the 2nd. The government saw this as the opportunity to take over his business. They withdrew his license. He appealed and it was again rejected. He was given 1 month to pack up his company. 200 employees were out of a job. Money within the company was held (presumably in lieu of the court cases) and later confiscated. With 8 defamation cases still to fight Bob decided to cut his loses. In 1974 he left for KL and from there flew to Sydney leaving his wife and children behind.. 2 years later they all joined him in Australia.
Pavlova topped with vanilla custard, kiwi, mango and pineapple served with Margarita with finger limes.
(Symbolism: national dessert of Australia, custard from his English upbringing, kiwi fruit for his new home, mango & pineapple for the home he left behind. Margarita (his wife) and finger limes for the bush fare of Australia).
Bob and his family lived in Bondi. He worked as a security guard and presumably would go to the Malabar Anzac rifle range to practice his love of guns. After he may have walked the headland and found his special place where he carved out his epithet in the sandstone. BOB WILSON, 9th Lancers, fled Singapore, there was no justice.
He died in 1985 peacefully in his sleep.
For more information about my journey to meet BOB WILSON again see previous blog : Bob Wilson's Journey.