ME AND MY BIG MOUTH
Food and other obsessions, by Jan O'Connell

Mutton to MasterChef

150 years of Australian food history

How did Tim Tams get their name. Who invented the Chiko Roll? My book A Timeline of Australian Food: from mutton to Masterchef chronicles 150 years of Australian food, from the first Australian cookbook in the 1860s to MasterChef in 2010. It’s available online now or your bookstore can order it for you.

The letter

A story within a story

“I’m grossly offended by the insinuation I have some personal agenda in interfering with your personal life,” So began the letter I found concealed within a book from our apartment building’s book exchange. I had to know more.

Footy food

From pies and hot dogs to salads and sushi

For decades, footy food mainly meant pies. In Victoria, it was a relationship assiduously fostered by the state’s best-selling brand, Four ‘n Twenty. And it took a long time to change.

Brewer drowns in beer vat

Henry Lindsay and the Red Lion breweries

Messrs. Elliott and Lindsay acquired the Excelsior Brewery in Hay in 1873, renaming it the Red Lion Brewery. Elliott went on to open several breweries under the Red Lion name, but came to an unfortunate end on Cup Day in 1895.

Lost restaurants of Melbourne

Where and how we ate in the 1950s

In the 1950s it wasn’t quite dining as we know it – only a select few Melbourne restaurants were legally able to serve a glass of wine with your meal. And you might come across the odd singing waiter.

The great Australian pie

Fast food with a history

Australians’ relationship with the pie goes back to early colonial times. We’ve seen roving pie sellers, pie floaters, footy pie nights and all-night pie cafés, and a day at the footy wouldn’t be the same without one.

Mutton chops vs French cuisine

Sydney restaurants in the mid 19th century

In the 1840s and 1850s, there were Sydney restaurants offering French and Italian dishes. But many establishments proudly trumpeted their rejection of such fancy food in favour of solid English fare.

Christmas in Broken Hill

From The Barrier Miner, 1932

Broken Hill may be a town associated with blue singlets and heavy-drinking miners, but in 1932 the local citizens knew how to celebrate Christmas in style. The following article appeared in the Barrier Miner on the Wednesday after Christmas.

Four courses for $1.30

Posh dining ain't what it used to be.

Back in 1967, at the Swiss Inn in Sydney’s King’s Cross, you could enjoy “a set 4-course OYSTER and CHICKEN Dinner for $1.30, with a large bottle of Penfolds Riesling or Claret for 70 cents”.

On the nose

What's that I can smell in the fridge?

This column was written back in the noughties when we lived in Bungendore. It was planned for the fourth issue of Regional Food Magazine – the truffle issue. Sadly, the magazine folded and it never happened. Also sadly, there are rarely truffles in our fridge these days.

Dinner at Al's

Revisiting memories in Rome

Our first visit to Hostaria al 31 (fondly dubbed Al’s) was in 1990, the second in 2001. And when we visited again in October 2018, we found that very little had changed over nearly three decades.

The other Italy

Slowing down in Lecce

Maybe it was the weather, maybe the food, maybe the laid-back feeling – or maybe it was just because we’d never been there before. But we fell in love with Puglia – madly, deeply and…ahem…trulli.

Higher ground

Food with a view in Spello

Picture a hillside town, where mediaeval stone overlays Roman marble. Where streets are often staircases and every archway frames a landscape worthy of an artist’s brush. This is Spello.

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