on 18 June 2012
What is it about our ability to recall in detail, the food served to us when we were small?
Sharon Robards dedicates this book, which is part culinary history and part recipe book to her two grandmothers.
This is a fascinating insight into the foods cooked, no doubt, mainly by women in Australian homes, from the days of the early settlers. And it is interesting to note the pervasive influence of Isabella Beeton. It is no surprise to me that the recipes in that book were heavily 'borrowed' from earlier sources as Mrs Beeton was a brand and a construct, as the real Mrs B died young.
Many of Australia's first wave of migrants struggled to find enough food to feed themselves and their families in this most inhospitable of places. The nation has come a long, long way since those early days. Australian contemporary cuisine owes everything to the wave of migrants, who brought with them not only the food of their countries but the expertise to cook and serve it in an authentic way.
Take a visit to a rural NSW or Victorian town today and you will likely be served authentic Italian coffee, albeit in a Victorian-style building. Or, take a trip to a seaside suburb where, thanks to the Greek immigrants, you will be served those mouthwatering honey-infused Greek pastries.
I am really looking forward to trying the recipes in Sharon's book, particularly the frog cake, as although I am familiar with Haigh's chocolate frogs from South Australia, a sponge version is new to me. I won't get into a dispute about which side of the Tasman lamingtons were invented but as a serving tip, you haven't lived until you've tried them the way they are served at an Auckland tea room just warmed, and then split and then slathered with jam and cream....