Food and other obsessions,
by Jan O'Connell
  • Camp pie

    Is Camp Pie truly Australian? The Oxford dictionary says so, defining it as: (Australian, history) tinned meat. And it certainly has a long (if not glorious) history in this country. But its origins probably lie in the Old Country.

  • The Ultimate Sandwich

    In his book The Ultimate Sandwich, Jonas Cramby cites the French croque, the Swedish smørrebrød, the Chinese bao and the Vietnamese bahn mi, as well as American derivations like the hero, the po’ boy and the mufaletta.

  • Reward Custard Powder

    I had a note from Dennis, who was trying to track down the origins of an old brand of custard powder. It’s certainly not as famous as Foster Clark’s. My guess is that it was packed for a grocery chain called Lakins.

  • Heard the one about the Irish Strawberry?

    The Irish Strawberry Tree, is native to Mediterranean regions like Portugal and Spain, where it’s called the Madroño tree. However, pollen from the plant dating back to 4000BC has been found in Irish bogs and a native population is also found in those chilly northern climes.

  • How not to buy a cooking appliance

    A year or so ago, we bought a new stove. It was the only option when we switched from bottled gas to natural gas and our antique stove was deemed unfit for conversion. It was only as we began to use our glamorous new cooker that we realised the import of the old saying “caveat emptor” – let the buyer beware.

  • The vital ingredient

    There are, what, 20,000 or so items in your average supermarket? Yet, each time you shop, maybe 40 different items end up in your trolley. Who buys all that other stuff?

  • Out, damned sprout.

    When I was a child, Brussels sprouts were one of the few foods I wasn’t made to eat. And they’ve been voted Britain’s most hated vegetable. It turns out, food preferences (and phobias) start with the breast.

  • Refrigerate After Opening

    The Refrigerate After Opening column was published in the first edition of Regional Food magazine in winter 2005. It initiated a series of musings about the way we eat, drink and shop.