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

Available now

150 years of Australian food history

A Timeline of Australian Food: from 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 online now or your bookstore can order it for you.

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 in 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

Getting warmer in Puglia

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.

La Rossa, la Dotta, la Grassa

The many faces of Bologna

The red, the learned and the fat – Bologna has many epithets. It was the “la grassa” part that we were most interested in, but the city had more than good food to offer.

A guilty pleasure

In Venice, we're part of the problem.

The tourist hordes are both supporting and killing Venice and the locals are leaving. But it’s still a magical place to visit.

Time to tango  

When afternoon tea went Latin

In March 1914 The Herald reported on a new phenomenon at the Paris Café in Melbourne’s Collins Street, writing that for the past three or four weeks “Tango Suppers” had been in vogue and the idea was to be extended to the Paris Café’s Afternoon Tea Assemblies.

The clubs with no beer

Melbourne's 1950s nightclubs

As the 1960s approached, the city that is now renowned for its night life was dull indeed – and not just on Sundays. Nightclubs came – and went – discouraged by Victoria’s draconian liquor laws and the Licensing Squad that enforced them.

A taste of home

From The Big Issue 2018

An overview of Australian food history, that I wrote for the food issue of The Big Issue in April 2018. From megafauna to mutton to MasterChef, Australian food has evolved for millennia. But perhaps the most dramatic change has been in the last 70 years.

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