Jan O'Connell
Jan O'Connell

In bookshops now

150 years of Australian food history

A Timeline of Australian Food:Mutton to Masterchef chronicles 150 years of Australian food, beginning with the first Australian cookbook in the 1860s and ending in 2010 with the game-changing cooking show, MasterChef. It’s available in bookstores and online now.

Erbswurst anyone?

That’s pea soup sausage to you.

I was researching Red Tulip Chocolates when something odd caught my eye: Red Tulip Pea Soup Sausage. Mentioned in an advertisement in 1927, this “sausage” sold for tuppence and made, according to the Grace Brothers ad,”3 pints of delicious Pea Soup”. I had to know more. 

Whatever happened to O.T.?

The drink with 'twang'

Imagine a drink that’s perfect for summer, perfect for winter and absolutely ideal for spring. It helps keep colds and flu away and is an instant cure for indigestion. And although it’s non-alcoholic it makes a great little cocktail if you slurp a bit into your gin.

And then there were two

On becoming empty nesters, 2008

“We have become empty nesters. The last daughter has fledged and flown away to Melbourne and life is suddenly different in all kinds of ways…” Written for Regional Food magazine, 2008.

Give me an A

The woes of alphabetical deprivation

When the teacher called the roll, the Adamses and Allens of this world were always up the front, while the Winters, Youngs and Zammits were right down the end. As a Trezise, I was pretty well down towards the bottom of the list.

A gallop through food history

From a talk to U3A Deepdene

On 12 February 2018 I spoke to a group from the University of the Third Age, Deepdene. The talk was billed as a decade by decade stroll through 150 years of Australian food history. In an hour or so. Hence, it ended up as more of a gallop.

Timeline of Australian Food: the lost chapter

From Megafauna to Mutton

When I submitted the proposal for A Timeline of Australian Food: from mutton to MasterChef to my publisher, the subtitle was originally: from megafauna to MasterChef. However, commercial concerns led to a shorter book, covering just the 150 years up to 2010. This chapter, starting from the very beginning of Australian food, was part of the original submission.

If this is pizza, it must be Friday.

King Island, 2005

You won’t find a Macca’s, KFC or Pizza Hut.  The nearest equivalent for an evening takeaway on King Island is the bakery’s fresh-made pizza – and they only do it on Friday nights.  It’s that kind of place.

All in the family

Of  Sunday high tea and a dog called Spotty

My earliest memory concerns eating. It happened when I was still too young to sit at the table, not having yet turned two. I was the youngest member of an extended family who gathered together for ‘tea’ on a Sunday evening. But one Sunday I was served a rather unexpected meal.

Waiting for snow

Christmas in Hampstead, 1976

On Christmas Eve, Katty and I made gingerbread. It was going to snow, she said. It was going to snow for Christmas and for her father, and he was going to push her toboggan from the top of the hill.

Australian food heroes

From a talk for the Hawthorn Historical Society

On 21 October I spoke to the Hawthorn Historical Society about some of the characters who have helped shape Australian food history. Food manufacturers, café proprietors, writers – and a totally fictional woman.

My food memoir

Stories from life before pizza

Me and My Big Mouth is a personal account of how Australian food has changed in the baby-boomers’ lifetime. It’s the story of a generation that can remember life before pizza – a generation that has seen the demise of the local grocer and, decades later, the resurrection of the small local deli.

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