Jan O'Connell
Jan O'Connell

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.

The mystery of musk

An Aussie favourite Americans don’t get

Bloggers from elsewhere express incredulity at Australians’ taste for musk Life Savers, musk sticks or any confectionery flavoured with a substance that used to be derived from the nether portions of a deer (in fact, the word musk originated from Sanskrit muská meaning ‘testicle’).

Doomed to drink?

Trezise hotels and the Cornish heritage

By Tre, Ros, Car, Lan, Pol and Pen
Ye may know most Cornishmen.
I was born a Trezise – a Cornish name through and through, and one that seems to have cropped up regularly in the history of Victoria’s licensed premises.

Mastering the pasty

My Cornish family tradition

Saturday mornings during my childhood saw a Cornish pasty production line, with my grandmother chopping the potatoes and the onions while she kept a sharp eye on her daughter-in-law, my mother, who was making the pastry.

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.

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.

The Milk Dock, Markets and Banana Alley

Another side of Flinders Street Station

At the opposite end of Flinders Street Station from the famous clocks and dome, you’ll find evidence of the station’s commercial past. Including the Milk Dock – the distribution point for much of our milk supply in the early 20th century.

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