The Colonial Kitchen: Australia 1788-1901

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Rowman & Littlefield, Sep 22, 2016 - Cooking - 208 pages
The first Europeans to settle on the Aboriginal land that would become know as Australia arrived in 1788. From the first these colonists were accused of ineptitude when it came to feeding themselves: as legend has it they nearly starved to death because they were hopeless agriculturists and ignored indigenous foods. As the colony developed Australians developed a reputation as dreadful cooks and uncouth eaters who gorged themselves on meat and disdained vegetables. By the end of the nineteenth century the Australian diet was routinely described as one of poorly cooked mutton, damper, cabbage, potatoes and leaden puddings all washed down with an ocean of saccharine sweet tea: These stereotypes have been allowed to stand as representing Australia’s colonial food history. Contemporary Australians have embraced ‘exotic’ European and Asian cuisines and blended elements of these to begin to shape a distinctive “Australian” style of cookery but they have tended to ignore, or ridicule, what they believe to be the terrible English cuisine of their colonial ancestors largely because of these prevailing negative stereotypes.

The Colonial Kitchen: Australia 1788- 1901 challenges the notion that colonial Australians were all diabolical cooks and ill-mannered eaters through a rich and nuanced exploration of their kitchens, gardens and dining rooms; who was writing about food and what their purpose might have been; and the social and cultural factors at play on shaping what, how and when they at ate and how this was represented.

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Chapter 1 The Land and Its People Time and Place
Chapter 2 Food Production
Chapter 3 The Kitchen
Chapter 4 The Cook and the Help
Chapter 5 Colonial Manners at Table
Chapter 6 The Meal
Chapter 7 Colonial Cookery Books

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About the author (2016)

Charmaine O’Brien is a writer, culinary historian and educator and the author of several books on Indian food history and culture including The Penguin Food Guide to India, the first comprehensive work on Indian regional food. Her other works include Flavours of Melbourne: a culinary biography (Wakefield Press 2008), Recipes from an Urban Village: A cookbook from Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti (The Hope Project Charitable Trust, 2003), and Flavours of Delhi: A Food Lovers Guide (Penguin Books, India, 2003).

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