ME AND MY BIG MOUTH
Food and other obsessions, by 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.

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 Career in an Advertising Agency

Australian Association of Advertising Agencies c. 1954

In 1963, at a careers night at school, I received this informative brochure telling boys everything they needed to know about working in advertising. On Page 21 was a section called Opportunities for Girls.

All you can eat

The $23 Chinese smorgasbord in Portland

Somehow, I don’t think we’ll be visiting the Canton Palace again, despite the attraction of the $23 “all you can eat” Chinese Smorgasboard [sic].

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.

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