Out here in the sticks (er, that would be 25 minutes from the CBD) we don’t have a roadside mailbox, but have to go into our local town to retrieve the daily snail-mail from our post office box. It’s only a little box with no room for parcels and nothing gives me a little thrill quite like seeing the red and white card which Margaret, our post-mistress, places there when something has come which is too large for the box. Quite frequently (actually, far more frequently than the husband likes) that something comes wrapped in heavy brown cardboard and is book-shaped. However, these parcels don’t always come with a corresponding dent in the credit card and such was the case recently when Adelaide’s Wakefield Press generously sent me two of their most recent publications.
The first is a lovingly researched and beautifully presented look at Australia’s gastronomic heritage called “Bold Palates” from Adelaide’s Barbara Santich, an internationally renowned and highly respected food scholar. Barbara has been researching and teaching food history and culture at the University of Adelaide for ten years and is the author of six books, including “Looking for Flavour” which is a set text for Gastronomy courses here and overseas.
Featuring lavish illustrations and using an astonishing range of sources, Barbara has drawn a detailed picture of Australian gastronomic history, our culinary development and customs. She tells us the stories behind the foods, recipes and rituals which we identify as Australian, describing how Australian cooks have adopted and adapted along the way, “Australianising” foods and recipes from the countries of origin of our immigrants as well as domesticating indigenous ingredients. “Bold Palates” examines our journey as we try to identify our national cuisine and explores our relationship with iconic foods such as Vegemite, pumpkin scones, Tim Tam biscuits and pavlova. Barbara explains the origins of our fondness for sweet foods and baked goods, including how coconut came to play such a large part in them, addresses the special place lamb holds in our hearts and devotes an entire chapter to barbecues.
While I have no doubt this book will find it’s way onto tertiary text lists around the country it is no dry academic text, but a book which will be on the shelves of anyone who has an interest in gastronomy. It is dotted with anecdotes, quotes, old recipes and I suspect the bibliography will have many heading off to the library with a long list of requests. If you have even the twinkling of an academic interest in food, culinary traditions or Australian history you are going to want this book – it is an absolute treasure and one I’ll be dipping in and out of repeatedly.
The other treasure in this last parcel was “Outside the Magic Square” the most recent book by Lolo Houbein, author of the award-winning “One Magic Square“. In the latter, Lolo laid out the case for the need for us to grow our own food and gave even the most horticulturally challenged of us the tools to begin to do this. The title came from her assertion that everyone, even those with extremely limited space could produce some food and the book was part of her quest to impress upon us the need to do so. In this sequel Lolo takes the next step as she urges us all to educate ourselves about the complex issues surrounding food security and offers her solutions to tackle these problems at personal, street, neighbourhood and global levels.
“Outside the Magic Square” is part gardening advice, part food activist manifesto, part political activist hand book. In an accessible manner she begins by looking at the food situation both in Australia and globally, addressing food labelling, GM food and sustainability. She sets out what to grow – where and how – and what you can do with your produce once you have grown it. She looks at the difficulties faced by farmers and what their future might look like and the value of community gardens and what some of them have achieved. The book also covers the issues of global warming, dwindling oil supplies and the food movements which are developing overseas and offers hints and suggestions to help mobilise for food security. Once the reader is inspired and ready to act, they will find a comprehensive list of future reading ideas and a large collection of addresses and email addresses for food and food security related organisations. According to Adelaide chef, Simon Bryant, this book is “an insightful, informed and practical survival guide for our eating future” – he’ll get no argument from me on that!
Wakefield Press have given me one copy of each of Lolo’s inspirational books to give away. I will send BOTH books to ONE lucky reader who wins the competition – enter by clicking on the links below. Like the last giveaway it is simple to follow by doing any or all of the following – just add a commment, “Like” Lambs Ears and Honey and Wakefield Press on Facebook, Follow us both on Twitter, Tweet about the giveaway with a link back to this page – and the more of these tasks you fulfill, the more opportunity you have to win.
These books are heavy so, I’m sorry folks, this competition is only open to Australian entrants.
I’m away off to Italy very soon, so this competition will close on May 7, to give me a chance to get the prize into the post before I leave.