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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’).
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.
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.
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.
Opened in 1890 in Phillip Street, The Paris House was the premier restaurant of Sydney’s ‘Belle Epoque’. Later run by Gaston Lievain, from Lille, it offered a ground-floor bistro, a top floor sponsored by the Moet champagne house and private dining rooms where lovers could meet, The expression “As dumb as a Paris House waiter” was testament to the staff’s discretion.