A LITTLE FOOD FLIGHT READING
SeedCake&HoneyPrawns:Fashion andFadinAustralianFood by Colin Bannerman (National Library of Australia, $34.95) is a scholarly trawl through our food history.
Don’t let that put you off. The briefest glance through this book will have anyone with a trace of nostalgia in their bones well and truly hooked. Its serious brief is to establish a wellresearched background to our modern obsession with food, throwing light on how we got to where we are today. Bannerman is a student of food history, the cover says, and has published books on the subject, including one on old Australian cookery books. What he is attempting here is to establish a ‘‘ still point’’ in our food history, amid the hubbub of fashion and the clash of designer woks, from where we can look back at ‘‘ the competing forces of novelty and nostalgia, health and happiness, economy and extravagance, care and convenience’’ that have directed our attitudes to what we eat and how we think about food.
The book features newspaper quotations, archival photographs and illustrations, product brochures, styled magazine food shots, book covers and a leaflet on Nicholas Soyer’s paper-bag cookery (circa 1911). On this last subject, revolutionary for a moment, Bannerman quotes Rita of the Melbourne Herald and Genette, gossip columnist at the SydneyMail, who wrote that the rush to buy paper bags had eclipsed the winter sales. The collector of kitsch will love the Hawaiian lamb chops, fondues and moulded fruit-studded jellies. Judith Elen