Information about work, life and play in Regional Australia

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Australian Regional Food - Looking Back 1

Photo: Serving suggestions, Bacco's Bakery, Murrurundi

I found Bacco's bakery through , the Australian Regional Food Guide, one of my regular reads. Founded by Kristy and Luigi Papagni, the bakery hand makes a savoury and sweet range of artisan products.

Australian cooking has changed enormously in recent years. Many of the changes are good, some not. Past menus may have had less variety, but they were also more balanced.

Today so much of what we eat is delivered from around the world to the supermarket door. This has its risks (see the story on the US spinach for example), may not always give us the best tasting food, but does provide a year-round variety that was once simply not available. We also take refrigeration for granted. And we are obsessed with saving time.

So what we eat, how we prepare it, how we serve it, has changed. Peas used to be much more popular than beans, with a shelling a family ritual, the kids eating the peas as they went along. Now fresh peas can be hard to find simply because of the preparation time involved.

The connection between diet and changing seasons has been largely broken. Yes there is a new emphasis on fresh seasonal produce, but the pattern of seasonal change is no longer built into the annual eating cycle.

Because so much has changed, I thought that it might be of interest if I looked back from time to time at past food experiences in Regional Australia, drawing among other things from my own experiences, the New Goulburn Cook Book (27th edition 1937), the CWA Cookery Book and Household Hints (36th edition, 1974) as well as Geoffrey Blainey's Black Kettle and Full Moon (Penguin Books, 2004). Subtitled "Daily life in a vanished Australia", the book is just that, an exploration of daily life up to the First World War.

This post is just to set the scene.


sallyh said...

Hi Jim,
So glad you read the Australian Regional Food Guide website ( As one of the authors of the book and now responsible for helping to maintain the website, it is good to know it is a useful resource. Thanks for linking it to your page.
Keep up the good work,
Sally Hammond

Jim Belshaw said...

Thanks for visiting, Sally. Caused me to revisit your site, something I have been meaning to do for a little while. Lots more for me to use, I see, with appropriate link of course. It remains a great site.

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