Bold Palates (Book Review)

Five reasons to read Barbara Santich’s new book Bold Palates:Australia’s Gastronomic Heritage (Wakefield Press, 2012)

  • For the insights: this is a fascinating look into Australia’s food culture and how it affects our identity, ‘from picnics and barbecues to lamb chops and lamingtons … this book contributes to a deeper understanding of Australian identity and its expression through the way we eat.’
  • For the food: you name it, it’s here. Pumpkin scones, barbecued prawns, spag bol, tzatziki, beer… If you want to see an 1890s’ recipe for roast scrub turkey, a menu featuring quandong pie with wattleseed cream or wartime advertisements exhorting  housewives to cook with lamb (‘the body building food’), you’ll find them here.
  • For the photos: there are some gems, drawn from archives and libraries  and family collections. Look out for the nuns around the barbecue, the nineteenth-century bush picnics with men wearing suits and ties,  the  CWA ladies ‘unpacking cakes for a cookery competition.’
  • For the nostalgia: I loved the ’70s photos (Summer Wine, flares, eskies), but there’s something for everyone, from the Diamantina cocktail to iSnack 2.0
  • For the breadth and depth of the research:  this is a book that celebrates  ‘all the librarians and all the libraries throughout Australia – without them this book would not have been possible.’

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