A history of dining in Melbourne

Food, by its nature, is ephemeral, and so is its history. Sometimes it’s obvious when a trend is happening (see: kale, fancy gelato, complicated doughnuts). Other times, you might look up and think, “Hey, remember the early 2000s, when every sandwich was a focaccia and hardly anyone ate sourdough?” And, the further back in time we go, the greater the challenge.

Which brings us to Flavours of Melbourne: A Culinary Biography by Charmaine O’Brien, an extremely fortuitous find in the local history shelves at the Melbourne Library. It doesn’t just contain history — it contains recipes!

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Reading The Australian Women’s Weekly in January 1968

The Australian Women’s Weekly is an institution.  Since 1933 it’s been covering, in a gentle and non-threatening way, the public figures of Australia, not to mention providing recipes, dress patterns, advice and occasional facepalms.  Like many Australian women, I grew up with it.

I was therefore delighted to discover that the 1933-1982 archives are available online.  This is (a) amazing and (b) completely unhelpful for my needs in terms of researching the novels I want to write.

Of course, interesting stuff did happen between ’33 and ’82.  Like, oh, a bunch of wars. And also we lost a prime minister (May The Sea Return Him).

How did The Australian Women’s Weekly cover the funeral of a prime minister who died in office?

By putting the US president on the cover, of course! #culturalcringe

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