Diggings 3#



cake box kingswood cookery book

Buried tools and pigments tell a new history of humans in Australia for 65,000 years

‘Among the artefacts in the lowest levels we found many pieces used for seed grinding and ochre “crayons” that were used to make pigments. Our large excavation area allowed us to pick up very rare items, such as the world’s oldest known edge-ground hatchets and world’s oldest known use of reflective pigment.’

 Such exciting news for all Indigenous Australians, and particularly for those like Bruce Pascoe who have been re-writing the history of food in Australia and the first people’s management advanced food practices over millennia.


Former Josephine Pignolet Award winner returns volley

‘I agree that it would be a wonderful image, however imparting a quota for female finalists is unfair to all entrants. They are judged on their potential and talent, not by their gender. For the picture to change, a deeper adjustment within the industry is required. The media need to embrace a role in which they seek out and promote talented women in hospitality. To date, much of the promotion of successful female chefs seems to miss the point.’

This is a terrific article with which I could not agree more.


Top 10 Australian junk foods

‘Don’t be fooled, a mille-feuille this ain’t. Proudly less refined than other incarnations, the Aussie version touts a characteristic slab of gelatine-set vanilla custard, sandwiched between two pieces of flaky pastry, and topped with icing that varies in flavour and consistency between states. The slightly tart NSW version, spiked with passionfruit, ticks all boxes’

I have serious problems with lumping a vanilla slice, a Neenish tart, a pie and even a Golden Gaytime into the category of junk food. Hell, I’d even go in to defend the Chiko Roll as having several degrees of nutritional value above Shapes or Passiona. Beerden doesn’t bother to define junk food so I shouldn’t have expected much better.


Will technology kill fine dining?

‘My guess is more fine-dining restaurant groups have decided home delivery is worth the risk. Americans now spend more on takeaway food and eating out than on groceries each week and the same would be true for many inner-city Australians. The prospect of celebrity chefs and restaurants licensing their intellectual property to third parties and getting a fee for each meal ordered – without the risk of storefront locations, hiring staff and the many challenges of restaurants – must appeal. Restaurateurs who follow creative-disruption lessons from other industry will know the online market is many times larger and that holding on to legacy businesses, which have low growth prospects, for too long, kills ventures in the long run.’

The creative-disruption lesson I would like to teach the first high-ender in Sydney who does this is that their cash flow will be seriously disrupted. This is a fascinating article from a non-food writer perspective and leads me to wonder if any fine dining establishments in Sydney are already doing this and if so with what success or otherwise.


Rise of mega farms: how the US model of intensive farming is invading the world

‘According to Defra, there are roughly 173 million poultry being raised at a time in the UK, amounting to more than one billion birds a year. If these birds were raised according to free range standards, they would take up an area twice the size of Copenhagen; to house these birds organically would require a space the size of Anglesey. Food prices have risen in recent years while wages have stagnated, meaning a larger proportion of the family budget is having to be spent on food, and people on low incomes face a choice between eating and other essentials such as heating and housing. In these circumstances, measures to keep food cheap have a political resonance far beyond farming communities.’

Depressing reading if not saying anything new about the Gordian knot that is the need to feed sustainably. It does raise interesting and worrying questions about the impact of Brexit on UK farm practices that I haven’t seen or heard discussed elsewhere.


Watch the Trailer for ‘Barbecue,’ a New Documentary About, Well, Barbecue

‘Director Matthew Salleh traveled to 12 countries to get a taste of different barbecue cultures around the world. Salleh says the doc isn’t limited to covering food, but it also examines how “something as basic as cooking over fire unites us across race, class, and culture in increasingly uncertain times.”

Gees, mate, it’s a barbie not a solution to race, class or culture wars – and no amount of new age music or blokes with cans in their hands telling us it’s about bringing people together is going to make it any more than that. Time food stopped having to bear the weight of being some kind of universal gluey leveller.



What So Many ‘Southern’ Restaurants Get Wrong, According to John T. Edge

‘There are dishonest, trend-surfing restaurants, Edge says, that intend to sell the mythos of the South. It’s a phenomenon that began in the late 1960s in Southern states, possibly in reaction to the Civil Rights movement, and is apparent today in restaurants outside of the region. “You see restaurants that would mount a confederate cannon on the awning and offer you steaks that are Lincoln-ized, or Sherman-ized, or Stonewalled,” Edge says. He refers to this as a “kind of pageantry of the Old South, repackaged for a more modern era.” To use the South as a theme in this way without acknowledging its past — a past obviously fraught with serious race and class issues — is, quite simply, wrong.’

I have to think about this article more for its resonances with the Australianising of native foods.


Taste of the Silk Road

‘Chinese culture has also left its mark on Dungan cuisine. Ashlyanfu, a delicious noodle salad served in a spicy vinaigrette, is one of the Dungans’ most famous recipes, sold in many Central Asian cities. The dish is topped with grated starch in a jellylike consistency. The texture of this ingredient, also used in liangfen, a noodle dish from China’s Sichuan province, is mostly unfamiliar to the Western palate. While traces of the Dungans’ Chinese history still season their cuisine, there are few culinary hallmarks from their new home among the 40 dishes that Hamida has prepared. “The Kyrgyz culture doesn’t influence our cuisine so much,” says Karim. “We serve boorsok [fried pieces of bread that are surprisingly satisfying] and besh-barmak [boiled meat with noodles in an onion sauce], but that’s about it.”

This is the kind of food writing that I love – a combination of ethnography, politics and gastronomy that makes me want to catch the next flight to sit, eat, listen. And there’s a whole book in the differences in relations around food that comes with eating on the floor versus at the table, I reckon.


Plonk: a language lover’s guide to Australian drinking

‘Australian drinkers are known to have a bit of fun with French. Last year the new edition of the Australian National Dictionary (AND) welcomed chateau cardboard to its pages, a tongue-in-cheek reference to cask wine, using chateau for a wine-producing estate in an ironic way. Australians invented boxed wine and celebrate its invention through games (Goon of Fortune was another addition to the AND) and a rich array of words, including boxie, box monster, Dapto briefcase, Dubbo handbag, red handbag, goon, goonie, goon bag, goon juice and goon sack.

Goon is mostly likely a shortening of flagon, but might also be linked to the Australian English goom, itself linked to an indigenous word gun, meaning “water” in the south Queensland languages Gabi-gabi, Waga-waga and Gureng-gureng.’

And then of course there is what for me is the quintessential Kath and Kim moment where Kim, pissed off with being sent up for her mis-pronunciation hits back with ‘Alright then Chardonnay, Chardonnay, you pack of Chunts!’


%d bloggers like this: