Central Queensland University

Donna Lee Brien

More than just a good nosh up: women and Australian food writing


The Australian food industry has made a significant contribution to the internationalisation of national taste and the wide embrace of cosmopolitan, multicultural eating habits in Australia, but has also had wider influence and significance. This study of Australian women food writers, drawing examples from a wide range of food writing from colonial journals to current publications, seeks to begin to map the field in Australia. It indicates the range of fiction and nonfiction writing that can be classed as 'food writing' and includes a number of biographical career studies to suggest the range of career, professional and other opportunities available to contemporary food writers.



It's just tragic that Anglo-Saxon culture says that all that matters is what's in your head, not what's on the table … I consider the types of issues raised around food are absolutely critical, and vitally important to our culture. (Stephanie Alexander, cited Cottier 1991: 45)


Setting the table: national trends

It has been widely recognised that what could be called the Australian 'food industry' has made a significant contribution to the internationalisation of national taste and the wide embrace of cosmopolitan, multicultural eating habits in this country (see, for example, Saxelby 1999; Santich 2002). The industry has, however, had wider influence and significance. In 1989, for instance, the Australian household was itself recognised to be an industry worth some $90 billion per annum [1] - or as much as the cumulative value of the manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, construction, agriculture, forestry and fishing, and mining sectors at that time (Ironmonger 1989: 1, 22). The Australian home cooking industry was a key component of this contribution, adding twice as much to GDP as the mining sector (Ironmonger 1989: 4).[2] The recent exponential market take-up of the multimedia and product generated by celebrity chefs - a commercial output that includes cookbooks, magazine articles, television shows and branded kitchenware and foodstuffs - is a logical outcome of the market recognising the buying potential of these consumers.

Books and other written texts (both in print and online) constitute a significant part of this kitchen-related product. In March 2007, Queensland-based Rachel Bermingham and Kim McCosker's self-published cookbook 4 Ingredients was launched in March 2007 with one press release to Brisbane's Northside Chronicle. By August 2007, the book - which features recipes comprising only four widely obtainable ingredients - was third on Nielsen BookScan's Australian nonfiction list (Pakula 2007). In its tenth reprint, the book has current sales of more than 100,000 and gross earnings of more than $1 million. These figures are, moreover, unremarkable in the world of Australian food writing, where a number of other contemporary Australian writers are also writing multiple bestselling texts. Michele Cranson, ex-first chef at famed Sydney restaurant Bill's and food editor of marie claire from 2000 (following popular food editor, bestselling cookbook writer and eponymous magazine publisher, Donna Hay), is such an author, with marie claire Zest (2003), marie claire Luscious: Simply Delicious Food (2005) and marie claire Comfort: Real Simple Food (2006) [3] - texts which had each made after-sales profits of more than $1 million to late 2007. To contextualise these figures, a comparison with the latest available Australian Bureau of Statistics Australian book sales data (for 2003-2004) - $485.3 million for Australian nonfiction and $207.6 million for Australian fiction (ABS 2005) - has Bermingham, McCosker and Cranson capturing some half a per cent of the projected total 2007 Australian nonfiction book market with these four titles.

David Throsby and Virginia Hollister's report Don't Give Up Your Day Job: An Economic Study of Professional Artists in Australia (2003) articulates the confronting economic realities facing practicing artists in Australia. Yet Australia obviously has writers and genres of writing whose sales figures meet, and exceed, those of the most popular of overseas examples. Food writing is one of these genres, romance writing is another, and both have traditionally been the realm of women writers. A series of public events - such as the various meetings of the Symposium of Australian Gastronomy (since 1984), the Food for Thought forum (the fourth annual Weekend of Ideas organised by Manning Clark House in Canberra in March 2005), the University of Adelaide's Research Centre for the History of Food and Drink's Cookery Books as History conference (Art Gallery of South Australia, July 2006) and the increasing numbers of food writing related sessions at Australian writers' festivals [4] - underscores the significance and impact of Australian food writing as a rich field for study. Indeed, as Michel de Certeau argues in The Practice of Everyday Life, there is an urgency to name and unpick what he identifies as the 'minor' practices, the 'multifarious and silent reserve of procedures' that nevertheless have the ability to 'organise' our lives (1988: 48). Moreover, as the food writing of the past has been an example of what Katie Holmes describes as 'those forms of writing which have been considered insignificant and irrelevant to both history and literature' and which, therefore, largely women practitioners have practiced relatively unnoticed and unremarked (Holmes 1995a), it is appropriate to focus on such writers in this introductory study which sets out to begin to map the range of opportunities food writing has offered, and may continue to offer, Australian women writers.


Something to start with: Australian women's diary, journal and letter food writing

The (usually domestic) diary has long been a major means of autobiographical expression for women, as, in many cases, are their letters to family and friends. Diaries and letters provide a significant repository of women's food writing, to the point where Katie Holmes has described some of these texts as 'litanies of meals cooked and tasks accomplished' (1995a) (see, for example, Henning 1986; Clarke and Spender 1992; Holmes 1995b; Frost 1999; Robinson 1999). Such writings can be utilised as data for historical reconstruction, as when Susan Addison and Judith McKay use the recipes and journals of the cooks of colonial Queensland to 'bring to life how people ate and lived' (1999: vii). At the same time, however, analyses of these texts as writing (see, for instance, Burnett 1976: 13 [5] and Leonardi 1989) reveal how, for some women, the act of writing was 'proof of existence, an acknowledgment of an inner life, a psyche, an intellectual resource' (Clarke and Spender 1992: xxiii). If such writing did provide 'a means for self-realisation - for consciously constructing an identity, for presenting a particular profile, for externalising the self and looking on one's own identity as an observer' (Clarke and Spender 1992: xxviii) - then writing about food seemingly played a central role in such identity forging.

Study of the writers included in collections of pioneering Australian women's letters and journals such as Lucy Frost's No Place for a Nervous Lady (1999, first published 1984) and Jane Robinson's Parrot Pie for Breakfast (1999) not only indicates the diversity of Australian women's experience in the colonial period, but confirms the centrality of food, cooking and eating in even the most tragic of these life narratives. Describing events on the voyage out to the colony in 1841, Sarah Davenport writes:

a yong woman was coming down the hatch way with some gruel to her mother and she was pitched off the Lader i was sitting in my birth with my yongest little son on my knee, one year and eigh months old, named Albert her gruel splashed on his head and down his ear and scalded him so severely that he died on the tenth of November just fourteen days affter we set sail ... this was a more sever tryal than the ship wrek i cold not cry one tear i was stund. (cited Frost 1999: 199)

Other examples reveal the complexities of these women's lives as well as their own recognition of, and sometimes resistance to, the often-unreasonable expectations of their domestic situations (as discussed in Holmes 1995a):

Rose about five. Had breakfast. Got my housework done about time. Baked six loaves of bread. Made a kettle of mush and how now a suet and beef boiling. I have managed to put my house in order … Nine o'clock p.m. was delivered of another son. (Mary Walker cited Robinson 1999: 97)

In stark contrast, other women delighted in the novelty of their new lives and embraced the opportunity this offered for considerable achievement when food preparation was central to survival:

Reached our land about noon ... Spent rest of day rigging up galvanised roofing ... Will shot wild duck and rosella. Cooked bread outside. I made a mud fireplace and washed socks in Tadpoley water. (Ann Williams cited Frost 1999: 192)

Food writing also offered opportunity for a celebration of creativity as in the many recipes incorporating the local fauna lovingly described for what one can only surmise was a to-be amazed reader:

The orthodox material here is of course kangaroo, a piece of which is divided nicely into cutlets two or three inches broad. The next requisite is a straight clean stick … the bacon on the summit of the spit, speedily softening in the genial blaze, drops a lubricating shower of rich and savoury tears on the leaner cutlets … good eating … very like hare. (Louisa Meredith 1852 cited Robinson 1999: 102-103)

In this food writing, each writer carefully selects what to report from the mass of incident of any single day, and decides how complete that account will be, with many also reflecting on these events and remarking on the process by which life is represented in words. In many cases, their food writing is imbued with 'intrigue, interest and drama' (Clarke and Spender 1992: xxiv); in others, this writing maps out the harsh tedium of colonial life (Frost 1999: 3). Although some critics feel that such personal writings were never intended for public eyes or that 'the dividing line between a diary written solely for oneself and one written with other readers in mind can never be definitive' (Clarke and Spender 1992: xxviii), I agree with Holmes that in these cases each food writer was creating and recording such texts as they were creating their own lives - with 'hopes for its future ... [writing] was an act of faith in herself, a belief that her life might last beyond the given moment' (1995b: xv). Such acts of faith are affirmed by our continued interest in reading such texts.


Main course buffet: Australian career studies

Alongside such self-expression, and even self-preservation, food writing has also offered a number of Australian women the opportunity to build viable and sustainable professional careers as writers. The five very different careers outlined below provide an indication of the range of opportunities available to, and embraced by women writers.

Linda Jaivin
One such writer is Linda Jaivin, whose comic erotic Eat Me (1995), her first novel, laid the foundation for her career as an author and a public intellectual. In this work, Jaivin utilises the organising plot conceit of four women friends who meet in a series of Sydney cafés and restaurants. The book, as Jaivin herself has repeatedly stated, focuses on describing women who are in charge of their own sexuality. As they eat and drink, acts that are described in sensual detail, they talk of their sexual adventures, many of which feature food props. In the first chapter, for instance, a female shopper recounts her adventures with a series of amorously charged fruits and vegetables, as well as a store detective. In this series of layered stories, it is not always clear what is fantasy or actually 'happening' within the world of the novel, but as innovatively erotic and humorous food writing, Jaivin's work is without compare.

The book was widely reviewed, with many commenting on Jaivin's novel as food writing. The Observer (UK) critic, for example, found that:

Linda Jaivin's novel will probably do for Lebanese cucumbers what Delia Smith's books did for cranberries. But Jaivin's recipes, revealing the erotic versatility of every piece of fruit and veg on the supermarket shelf, are more suitable for the bedroom than the dining room ... The prose is as raw as it comes. (cited EFT 1999)

As a result, Eat Me was a bestseller in both Australia (where it was on the bestseller list for seven months) and the USA. It has been reprinted several times in the USA in both hardback and paperback editions, and in the UK under the Vintage imprint; and has been translated into ten languages. As Mange-moi, the book made the French bestselling lists for four weeks in December 1999/January 2000 (Jaivin 2000).[6] While the majority of Australian novels are not kept on backlist, Eat Me is still in print and, although published over a decade ago, was as late as 2004 still at the centre of classification and censorship debates in Australia and the USA (EFT 1999; Jaivin 2000, 2004). This continued discussion around the book and its content has made Jaivin a frequently called-upon commentator on the censorship, classification and other restriction or suppression of literary and other art works.

Marion Halligan
Marion Halligan's writing - novels, short stories, nonfiction, essays, theatrical scripts and works for children [7] - include a series of acclaimed autobiographical food memoirs/travel narratives comprised of information-rich meditations on food and wine, many of which are supported with recipes. The first of these books, Eat My Words (1990), was the winner of the Prize for Gastronomic Writing in 1991 (Lemon 2006). Halligan has written a food-based children's music theatre piece, Kilcallow Catch, performed in 1992, and was also commissioned to write five theatrical scripts, collectively titled Gastronomica, which were to be performed in restaurants as part of the 1994 Melbourne Festival. Restaurant menus were devised to accompany these dramatic pieces that were performed between those meals' courses. In Cockles of the Heart (1996) Halligan muses on culinary and other French pilgrimages, while Those Women Who Go To Hotels (1997), written with Lucy Frost, chronicles these two women's culinary and other adventures in a number of European countries. This series of major Australian works of food writing culminates in The Taste of Memory (2004) [8] which, although not titled as such, is the sequel to Eat My Words, continuing the celebration of 'the great oral tradition of cooks throughout time who pass on recipes out of the love of friends and food' (Halligan 2004: inside cover). The recipe index of this work fills three pages and reviewers of it have correctly identified food writing as Halligan's 'favourite theme' (see, for example, Marchant 2006).

All Halligan's writing celebrates the senses, with the exploration of the complexities of taste taking a high priority. Halligan explains, 'I can't leave food out of my books … because it is where the real dramas of the human condition enact themselves' (2003: 4), positing that 'food is immensely important in people's lives, and for me ... it is often a way of developing plot, character, theme' (2003: 10). Halligan has also suggested that she uses the depiction of food as a way into discussions of social issues in her novels (see, for instance, Halligan cited Atkinson 2006), but her writing about food is not only a dramatic fictional device, as all her work, whatever its ostensible classification, is underpinned by significant inclusions of nonfiction culinary-related information. Recipes, for example, whether laid out as in a cookbook or described in a paragraph of prose, are included throughout her fiction and nonfiction. Each recipe, moreover, functions as autobiography, documenting her own developing palate as well as the foodstuffs, beverages and cooking styles she has experienced or otherwise been exposed to.

Halligan's novel, The Point (2003), which won the Critic's Circle Award for Literature in 2003, is set in an up-market restaurant, and Halligan's descriptions of the food prepared and eaten in (and out) of that eatery are both key to the plot and characterisations, and central organising ideas behind this work. The restaurant's chef, Flora Mount, is obsessed with working out how to make food feed the intellect as well as the physical appetite, cooking here described as an act of research-based creative practice - 'the food is an idea, carefully thought out, before it becomes flesh on a plate' (3). The homeless eat the food discarded from this premises, philosophically arguing about its taste and the quality as compared to that served within. Food history information is woven into the narrative - including musings on the origins of the Slow Food movement, why particular pasta sauces are named as they are, how the food business works, the science behind various cooking processes and a number of little known nutritional and other culinary facts. The Fog Garden (2001), Canberra-based Halligan's ode to her then recently deceased husband, has as its protagonist a recently widowed Canberra-based writer named Clare who shares Halligan's appreciation of food. While playing with narrative forms - the transformation of nonfiction personal memories into fiction, self-quotation (an early Halligan short story is included as the narrator's) and the use of literary critical commentary are just some examples - the novel includes significant sections of well-realised food writing. Even the literary-inflected murder mystery, The Apricot Colonel (2006) - and its sequel Murder on the Apricot Coast (2008) - continue Halligan's characteristic use of writing about food, wine, cooking and dining to contribute to her novel's plot and characterisations - the central character/amateur sleuth, Cassandra Travers, may be a freelance editor, but alongside her love of books and writing exists real gastronomic passion.

Halligan's work has been shortlisted for, and/or won, many major literary and nonfiction awards and prizes. This is an indication of the recognition of such food writing by the highest critical and literary circles, alongside the above-recognised popular readership. Although sessions featuring food writers are becoming increasingly common at writer's festivals in Australia and overseas, it is only relatively recently that significant literary criticism has begun focus on cuisine-related elements in literature. Much of this comment has focused on women's fiction and has come from female critics and commentators - although, as noted by Blodgett, when men write critically about food in literature they make 'only token acknowledgement' of women authors (2004: 261). Margaret Atwood's first published novel The Edible Woman (1969), Isak Dinesen's short story 'Babette's Feast' (1958), Nora Ephron's Heartbreak (1980), Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate (1992) and Joanne Harris's Chocolat (1999) [9] have attracted such comment, as has the work of Edith Wharton, Collette, Joyce Carol Oates, Katherine Mansfield and many other women authors. Such studies include explorations of the significance of food and food-related matters (such as cooking and eating) in discovering a feminist aesthetic (Bender 1986), writing popular/genre fiction (Sadler 1989), ways of reading women's food writing (Leonardi 1989), issues of power and control (Patnaik 1998), body theory (Sceats 2000), the social, cultural, spiritual and structural significance of various labour - for example, meal provision - in literature (McGee 2002) and, most recently, the wide use, meanings and implications of food-related imagery (Blodgett 2004). High profile critics and writers are also writing serious literary reviews of nonfiction food writing, as in Joyce Carol Oates' recent review of a range of food writing texts ranging from restaurant critics' memoirs to culinary encyclopaedias (Oates 2005).

Margaret Fulton
Margaret Fulton's food writing has, since the 1950s, played an integral part in the last half-century's dramatic shift in Australian eating habits. In 1982, as cookery writer and food editor for a series of the most popular Australian weekly women's magazines (Woman 1954-1955, Woman's Day 1960-1979 and New Idea 1979-c.2000), Fulton was judged to have had 'more impact on the Australian kitchen than any thing or person since the refrigerator' (Ward 1982: 16). Her food writing in these magazines - usually comprising an accessibly written, informative introduction followed by reliable recipes comprising available ingredients - exposed Australian home cooks to a wide range of international cookery, and provided a foundation for the ongoing development of today's broad-based cosmopolitan food culture. Barbara Santich, who worked with Fulton at Woman's Day in 1973 (which then had a weekly circulation of 514,000), describes Fulton as 'the acknowledged leader/style-setter' in her introduction of the [then] 'exotic cuisines of India, Italy, France, Scandinavia, South-East Asia and the Middle East' to Australian readers (Santich 2007: 34, 38).

To date, more than four million copies of Fulton's 24 cookbooks have been purchased nationally and internationally (Gibbs et al 2007). Her first book, The Margaret Fulton Cookbook, published in 1968, unexpectedly sold out its then record first print run of 100,000 copies (Fulton 1999: 159), went into its second printing the next year and has been kept in print to meet reader demand ever since. New books, together with reprints and new editions of older books, have been published regularly since. In 1983, the publication of Margaret Fulton's Encyclopaedia of Food and Cookery: The Complete Kitchen Companion from A to Z (2005) confirmed her place as the expert authority on all Australian domestic cooking matters. Drawing on some experience in the advertising industry, Fulton has been able to maintain this credibility while publicising named products in books such as The Best of Kelloggs Recipes by Margaret Fulton (1968) and The Margaret Fulton Crock-pot Cookbook (1976) - the latter of these receiving a recent boost with the growth of the Slow Food movement and the attendant revived public interest in these slow cooking devices.

After a writing career that has spanned more than a half-century, Fulton's most recent output has been more self-reflective. Despite producing titles such as A Passionate Cook (1998), her writing style had remained consistently approachable without being particularly personally revealing, until her memoir, I Sang for My Supper: Memories of a Food Writer (1999) [10] made known a number of the professional, personal and financial difficulties she has faced. Recognising that, paradoxically, home cooking skills were declining at the very time that interest in food was increasing, at this time Fulton also returned to one of her earliest motivations - that of basic skill education in cookery - by co-authoring Cooking for Dummies (2001) with Barbara Beckett. Published at the peak of the high profile series' success, this text brought the Fulton name, and authority, to a new generation of readers and book buyers. With lifetime sales of over 1.5 million, a new edition of The Margaret Fulton Cookbook (rewritten with daughter Suzanne Gibbs, also a leading magazine food writer/editor) was released in 2004, prompting Fulton to reflect on her public career both in the new edition and in press interviews. In 2005, the revised version of what Fulton has called her 'life's work' (Fulton 2005: i), her Encyclopaedia of Food and Cookery, was released to excellent reviews. Her latest publication, Margaret Fulton's Kitchen: The Much Loved Essential Recipes from a Lifetime of Cooking (2007), is described by Fulton herself as a 'culinary memoir' (Fulton 2007). In this book, Fulton assembles what she states are her most cherished recipes from a half century of cooking. These act as a series of aide-mémoires, reminding her of the people, travel and events that have influenced and shaped her life (Fulton 2007).

Awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1983, this much-loved writer continues to be recognised for the impact and importance of her work. Fulton was inducted into the World Food Media Awards Hall of Fame and named as one of the National Trust's original 100 Living Australian National Treasures in 1997 (Negus 2004). In 2006 she was named by the Bulletin as one of the 100 most influential Australians (current and historically) (Austin 2007). The Friends of the National Library of Australia chose Fulton for its annual 'celebration' of a leading Australian in 2007. This event, which drew renewed attention to both Fulton's contribution to Australian culinary heritage and the respect she has among peers and the reading public, drew 'unprecedented' interest (FNLA 2007: 1; Wright 2007).

Stephanie Alexander
Recognised in the 1980s and into the 1990s by many as 'Australia's best chef' (Cottier 1991: 45), Stephanie Alexander has built her career on the symbiotic relationship between her work as a chef and that as a food writer. Alexander herself has identified this: 'I see myself as having an unusual mix of practical skills, creative ability, and lots of energy, which when linked to my persuasive gift of the gab have enabled me to achieve a great deal' (Alexander 2007). Having trained as a librarian and worked for a decade in a variety of literary/educational environments, including the BBC television library in London and several Australian school libraries, Alexander is recognised in the industry as both an important author and a significant educator (Harden 2006). Her first restaurant, The Jamaica House (opened in 1964), was an unsuccessful, shortlived venture, but in 1976 she opened Stephanie's Restaurant in modest shopfront premises in Melbourne. Four years later - in a food environment bolstered by the growth of the local food media, an increasing affluence and more overseas travel opening up food culture to more Australians - the restaurant moved to a grand National Trust classified Victorian mansion and became a 'special occasion' destination, winning many awards and general acclaim.

Alexander's food writing built on, and then began to feed, her restaurant's success. During the following decades, Alexander has been asked to 'comment on anything and everything to do with food' (Alexander 2007) and has become a regular contributor to various national food publications. She also began to write her series of (now) much re-issued cookbooks. In 1985, her first book, Stephanie's Menus for Foodlovers, was published (also 1991, 1993, 2003). Then came Stephanie's Feasts and Stories (1988, 1989, 1992), Stephanie's Australia, Travelling and Tasting (1991) recording the author's journey around Australia profiling the type of non-industrial food producers she has continued to promote throughout her career, and Stephanie's Seasons (1993, 1994, 1998). Her 'signature' work, the encyclopedic The Cook's Companion (1996), was prompted by Alexander's oft-articulated belief that despite all the interest in restaurant dining, many Australians had little understanding of how to prepare fresh food. Highlighting what is available in the Australian marketplace, and providing information on how to select, when to buy and how to prepare these foodstuffs, this book, currently in its expanded second edition (2004), with an extra twelve chapters and 300 pages, has sold more than 400,000 copies (Pakula 2007) and won Alexander celebrity chef status in the UK.

Closing Stephanie's at the end of 1996, at a time when the restaurant sector of the Australian hospitality industry was judged to be 'mature' (Hing et al 1998: 264), Alexander was again ahead of the market when, in April 1997, with a number of partners she opened the almost instantly successful Richmond Hill Cafe and Larder complex comprising a café, cheese room, produce store and, fittingly, a bookshop. Stephanie's Journal (1999) details this extraordinary year - when she also held three residential cooking schools in Italy in conjunction with Australian chef Maggie Beer. Stephanie's Journal takes the form of an autobiographical memoir supported with a selection of illustrative recipes, but these cooking schools also resulted in a joint authored cookbook, Stephanie Alexander & Maggie Beer's Tuscan Cookbook (1998, 2003) - a text which serendipitously garnered some of the marketing hype surrounding one of the year's topselling books, Frances Mayes' Under a Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy (1997). The same year, Stephanie's 21 Years of Fabulous Food (1998) was published, marking this milestone, and drawing an obvious analogy that, with the sale of Stephanie's, Alexander was moving into a new stage of her professional life. A television series for the ABC, and the book of the series, both titled A Shared Table (1999) revisited Stephanie's Australia (1991), again demonstrating her long-held passion for Australian local produce.

Alexander's food writing commonly employs this personally revealing, autobiographical approach. Her tenth book, the beautifully illustrated and produced Cooking & Travelling in South-West France (2002), for instance, is 'a personal tribute' to the area, and explores how this region has influenced much of the food philosophy she seeks to express in her cooking and writing. Elsewhere Alexander has written that her mother Mary Burchett's 'interest in food as an expression of culture' (Cottier 1999: 45) has been one of the foremost influences on her life. In homage, Alexander's Recipes My Mother Gave Me (1997) contains the text of her mother's 1960 cookbook, Through My Kitchen Door, with added annotations and reminiscences by both the chef/writer and her siblings.

Freed from the demands placed on a high-profile restaurant chef, Alexander has continued to utilise her writing to champion the importance of locally produced fresh foods. In 1995, Alexander was advocating awareness programs to educate children to become intelligent consumers and food lovers (Carson 1995: 26) and, by 2000, had become involved in the promotion of an inner-city Melbourne primary-school program where the students could learn to grow and cook their own food. Motivated by the belief (possibly inspired by the American chef and food writer Alice Waters' Edible School Yard project in Berkeley, California, from 1995, and shared by Jamie Oliver in his School Dinners campaign, 2005) that children should learn about good food choices through practical example, the Kitchen Garden at Collingwood College has become the flagship of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation, begun in 2004 to raise funds to expand the model into other schools. Having sold the Richmond Hill business in early 2005, Alexander currently devotes much of considerable energy to the project. Her Kitchen Garden Cooking with Kids (2006) [11] relates the story of the venture, offers practical advice to schools and communities interested in establishing their own kitchen gardens and includes recipes designed to encourage children to cook either at home or school. In 2006, the Victorian State government announced grants of $2.4 million to part-fund an additional 40 new kitchen garden programs in state primary schools. The educational focus of Alexander's writing and other work was recognised in her inclusion in the interview-based volume, Teachers Who Change Lives (Metcalfe and Game 2006), which argues that outstanding teachers do not direct students, but instead draw out their potential.

This book also recognises the importance and prescience of Alexander's work in encouraging Australian food habits that not only focus on the elements of taste one would expect from a leading chef, but are also sustainable, in both personal (health) and public (the farm production sector) terms. This considerable contribution to national wellbeing was acknowledged almost two decades ago when Alexander was interviewed as a 'notable Australian' in the SBS television series Speaking for Myself and the accompanying book of the same title (Little 1989: 185-98). The leadership direction she has provided through her food writing and other work was explicitly honoured in her inclusion in Moodie's Local Heroes: A Celebration of Success and Leadership in Australia (1998), where Alexander's contribution is recognised alongside other prominent figures from the areas of business, medicine, science, politics, information technology, architecture, the arts, literature, law, the media and sport.

Barbara Santich
Barbara Santich is Australia's leading culinary historian. With a science degree and a background in journalism at Choice magazine, and as a magazine food writer (Santich 2007: 35), Santich has continued to write for a diverse range of publications and audiences in her career as an academic and author. Her books include Looking for Flavour (1996), a book of essays on food and culture that won a Food Media Club award in 1997; the internationally-acclaimed food history, The Original Mediterranean Cuisine: Medieval Recipes for Today (1995, 1996); and the frequently-cited history, What the Doctors Ordered: 150 Years of Dietary Advice in Australia (1995). Her Apples to Zampone (1996, 1999) is a groundbreaking consumers' guide to buying the best food in and around Adelaide; and was followed by McLaren Vale: Sea & Vines (1998) on the history and culture of this region of South Australia. Her most recent sole-authored book is In the Land of the Magic Pudding: A Gastronomic Miscellany (2000), a compilation of popular Australian food writing from the eighteenth century to the present.[12] She has contributed extensively to Alan Davidson's much-lauded Oxford Companion to Food (1999), and frequently publishes chapters in Australian and international scholarly books.

As both a scholar and passionate practitioner of food writing, Santich has taken a leadership role in a number of initiatives that have contributed to the serious study of food writing in Australia. These include the almost annual series of meetings of the Symposium on Australian Gastronomy (the various published Proceedings of which she has been a frequent contributor to, and editor of, since 1984) and the establishment of the Research Centre for the Study of the History of Food and Drink at the University of Adelaide. This Centre's events, such as the Symposium on Food in Literature (31 March-1 April 2000) and the Cookbooks as History conference (3-4 July 2006) and ensuing publications, are defining the field of Australian scholarly food writing studies.

Santich also convenes the Graduate Certificate in Food Writing at the University of Adelaide. This first Australian program in food writing aims not only to 'develop professional expertise and encourage creative experiment in food writing' but to also to 'promote an awareness of the various forms of contemporary food writing' (UA 2006), offered by the university's creative writing program. In this program, as through the model of her own ongoing significant research and writing, Santich encourages and mentors the contributions that a growing number of student, emerging and established food writers and scholars are making to the professionalism and study of Australian food writing.


Bread and butter: serial food writing

The range and variety, as well as the sustained period of production, of the body of work discussed above provides evidence of a continued and engaged audience for such writing - a readership that has supported these writers' careers and continues to provide a viable market for contemporary food writing. While the above discussion has largely focused on book-length texts, many of the food writers discussed above have also published extensively in serials, in newspapers and popular/mass magazines as well as in specialist, professional and scholarly magazines, journals and other publications. In this, they join a large number of freelance food writers, many of whom are women.

In Australia, such periodicals as Vogue Entertaining + Travel and Australian Gourmet Traveller - which publish as much social, cultural and historical information about food and culinary practice as detailed recipe instructions - have an excellent reputation in terms of the quality of content, writing and writers, though not widely recognised outside this part of the media industry. This is a largely unexplored part of local media production, with the work of key figures in these serials' development - such as editor, stylist and publisher Sue Fairlie-Cuninghame and publishing director Julie Gibbs - yet to be examined in this context (Evans 2007: 12). Unlike the much more straightforward recipe (and often supermarket-linked) serials currently available, such as Good Taste, Australian Table and Super Food Ideas, publications such as Vogue Entertaining + Travel and Australian Gourmet Traveller, like the international publications Gastronomica and Saveur, are read and enjoyed for the quality of their content in terms of writing and image (what is now commonly called 'gastro-porn') rather than as purely practical manuals to guide cooking practice (Brien 2007).

Halligan has published more than 70 short stories (many of which, characteristically, feature food writing) in journals and magazines, and has been widely anthologised. She has also edited collections, including the anthology The Gift of Story (with Rosanne Fitzgibbon, UQP 1998), and Storykeepers (Duffy and Snellgrove 2001).[13] Fulton's more than 50-year career in cookery and recipe writing is founded on, and supported by, her work in popular and influential women's magazines during that period. Alexander has not only maintained a profile as a contributor to the most prestigious of Australian serial food publications for some 30 years but has also been, during that time, the popular subject of interviews and profiles in not only those publications but a range of others as diverse as Caterer and Hotelkeeper, Australian Left Review and Christian Science Monitor. She has also maintained a profile of publication in a series of scholarly publications that relate to her interests. Santich has published in Australian newspapers such as the Australian, food magazines such as Gourmet Traveller and in overseas publications including the New York Times and Slow, the quarterly magazine of the International Slow Food Movement. She has also published academically-inflected food writing in a range of national and international scholarly journals including the Journal of Gastronomy and Petits Propos Culinaires. Her most recent scholarly articles can be found in Meanjin (2002), Food in Australia (2002), Food & History (2003), the International Journal of Hospitality Management (2004), Nutrition & Dietetics (2005) and Bibliofile (2006) [14], providing further evidence of the diversity of the publication opportunities available for Australian food writers.


After dinner mints: recent trends in Australian women's food writing

Recent Australian food writing and publishing is expanding into yet other areas of publication and attracting broader audiences. Maggie Groff, for instance, attained bestselling success with comic food writing in Mothers Behaving Badly (1999) and her answer to domestic goddess-ness - 'fake the bake' (3) - in Hoax Cuisine: Faking it in the Kitchen (2001).[15] Both books offer advice on achieving 'Superwoman status' (Groff 2001: 13) with (much) less effort - that is, by taking a series of serious shortcuts that, despite the humorous framing, nevertheless work as recipes, cooking and other domestic advice. Extracts of Mothers Behaving Badly were published worldwide by Readers Digest, and in 2000 the ABC produced an audio version of the book. The success of Hoax Cuisine led to an eponymously titled regular column in the Sunday Life Magazine, distributed through the Sun-Herald Sunday and the Sunday Age. Groff's work has inspired a number of women comedic authors who together comprise what has been identified as 'a movement of mothers' who are 'uncowed by the pressure to be practically perfect in every way' (Anon 2003). UK author's Alison Pearson's bestselling debut novel, I Don't Know How She Does It (2002), features an exhausted working mother who takes Groff's advice and 'distresses' purchased pies for a school fete in order that they appear homemade. Australian Kaz Cooke's Kidwrangling (2003) similarly offers strategically realistic baby food suggestions in its advice.[16]

There are many other examples of other recent trends in Australian women's food writing. Journalist Stephanie Clifford-Smith has, for instance, written one of the first sustained biographical studies of an Australian food celebrity with her A Marvellous Party: The Life of Bernard King (2004).[17] Using interviews and weaving together the myriad of press commentary that King, the flamboyant 'supermarket chef', both generated and attracted, Clifford-Smith constructs an approachable culinary biography that also profiles the development of the Australian food media from the 1960s to 2000. An innovative anthology from the University of Adelaide's creative writing courses, Forked Tongues: A Delicious Anthology of Poetry and Prose (Clarkson et al 2002) is built around the form of a dinner, from entrée through main courses to after-dinner coffee, with each course introduced by a recipe from Adelaide-based chef Cath Kerry. All the editors and most of the contributors to this volume are Australian women writers.[18] Liz Byrski's novel Food, Sex and Money (2005, 2006) has a food writer as a central character.[19] In the widely reviewed Once Upon a Time in the Kitchen: Recipes and Tales from the Children's Classics (2005), cookbook writer, children's book author, children's television show compere and former Play School scriptwriter Carol Odell pairs a series of recipes that were, or could have been, enjoyed by some of children literature's best-loved characters alongside excerpts from the books in which they appeared.[20] Writing about food for children has been a subject of academic discussion (see, for example, Morrow 1999), but the focus has been largely on literary thematic/content analysis of these works, rather than the professional opportunities such writing offers its writers.

Food-based travel writing is similarly offering a range of opportunities for writers with Sally Hammond's Playing Chopsticks: Travels in China (2006) including recipes as well as information on chopstick etiquette and preparing perfect rice, and Ann Rickard's comic culinary travelogues - Not Another Book About Italy (2004), Not Another Greek Salad (2004), The Last Book about Italy (2005) and Flash & Brash with Fries on the Side: Doing California (2006) - winning her readers and awards including the Australian Society of Travel Writers' Travel Writer of The Year and the Jack Butters' Award for Travel Journalism Excellence (both in 2005).[21]


Planning the next meal: changes in the marketplace

This modest selection of Australian women food writers and the genres in which they write provide a wide range of models of authorial career success. For some, as for food essayist MFK Fisher, food writing is intrinsic to all writing practice: 'our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the other' (Fisher 1943: np). Other writers offer a range of purpose and motivation behind their practice, whether this is using food writing for primarily domestic, aesthetic, gastronomic or health reasons, or to explore personal or societal issues such as gender inequalities, juggling work and family or the problems facing the global environment. While some seek principally to entertain, others use food writing as a vehicle for commentary on such issues as sexual politics, poverty, aging or health or how one can take individual responsibility for a sustainable lifestyle.

Food writing has not, however, always been seen as a particularly positive career choice for women. At times, colonial women diarists and letter writers used their food writing to express their frustration with arduous and thankless tasks of food preparation. Margaret Fulton was a young but ambitious single mother who needed to harness her skills to produce an income, and who - although she later reassessed the opportunities it had to offer - chose to work in food writing as it was one of the limited areas then available for a woman in the fields she was interested in: marketing, advertising and publishing. By the 1970s, the second wave feminist women's movement was based on the widely held belief (inspired, many believe, by Betty Friedan's 1963 The Feminine Mystique) that women should seek economic and personal reward in careers in professional and/or creative areas outside those of gendered domesticity (including cooking).

Since then, however, food writing has moved from the realm of what could have been called 'women's interest' - the recipe pages in magazines - to inhabit not only the mainstream, but also the big business, end of the global publishing industry, and male writers are increasingly being attracted to its various areas of interest. Internationally, for example, even serious literati Julian Barnes has published a collection of his food writing.[22] A key moment in this transition was the public acclaim with which Anthony 'the Jack Kerouac of the kitchen' Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (2000) was received, with fourteen weeks on the New York Times nonfiction bestselling list.[23] While this, as I have discussed elsewhere, exemplifies the personal-memoir-with-recipes crossover genre so successfully utilised by contemporary female as well as male celebrity chefs (Brien, Rutherford and Williamson 2007), the success of Bourdain's work also marked a paradigm shift in world food writing, with this hardboiled, testosterone-fuelled blood-guts-drugs-sex-and-violence inflected prose inspiring a new group of (almost exclusively male) food writers. Representative works in such a grouping could include Russell Davies' tribute to London's traditional cafés, Egg, Bacon, Chips and Beans: 50 Great Cafes and the Stuff That Makes Them Great (2005); Bill Buford's chronicle of suffering to learn to cook, Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany (2006); and the memoirs of notoriously foul-mouthed UK chef, Gordon Ramsay Humble Pie (2006) - published in the USA as Roasting in Hell's Kitchen: Temper Tantrums, F Words, and the Pursuit of Perfection (2006) - and Playing with Fire (2007). Jason Fagone's Horsemen of the Esophagus: Competitive Eating and the Big Fat American Dream (2006) - a 6,000-word excerpt of which was featured in the Atlantic Monthly in May 2006 - is his record of spending a year with competitive eaters, the USA uniquely hosting two organised professional leagues, with corporate sponsorship, live television broadcasts and substantial cash prizes for this 'sport'.[24] Then there is what has become a kind of sub-sub-genre in itself - 'global adventurous eating' or, perhaps, 'men eating badly' - with examples including Bourdain's own A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines (2002) and The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps, and Bones (2006); Jerry Hopkins' Extreme Cuisine: The Weird & Wonderful Foods That People Eat (with a foreword by Bourdain) (2005); Tom Parker Bowles' The Year of Eating Dangerously: A Global Adventure in Search of Culinary Extremes (2006); and Stefan Gates' Gastronaut: Adventures in Food for the Romantic, the Foolhardy, and the Brave (2005).[25]

Other notable trends in the most recent of international food writing and publishing - 'foodie [we]blogs' and food 'blooks' - have, however, continued to be dominated by women writers. As de Solier notes, the phenomenal growth in the 'foodie blog' documents a shift among 'foodies' (those passionately interested in food) from the consumption of food media to its production (2006). In Australia, this production has been dominated by women webloggers (de Solier 2006), with these bloggers' producing seemingly ever more sophisticated online musings on food preparation and eating, restaurants, chefs, provisioners and foodie reading habits. 'Blooks' - a new term but already under consideration for inclusion in the next edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (Gibson 2006) - are books that are either published online in a weblog or, more commonly, printed in traditional form but containing, or based on content from, a weblog. Julie Powell's Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Kitchen Apartment (2005), published in Australia (with an ironic nod to the masculine food books above) as Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously (2007) [26] is a food memoir which began as a weblog in August 2002, The Julie/Julia Project, detailing the author's quest to surmount the limitations of a life she saw as banal by cooking all the recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961) in her small apartment kitchen. Powell's online chronicles attracted a significant readership, with the ensuing book version selling more than 100,000 copies and winning the first Lulu Blooker Prize in 2006. While this most recent trend has been, to date, less notable in Australian food writing than in that of overseas authors, only those writers - and their publishers - know just what will be served up for reader delectation in Australia in the near, or more distant, future.

Notes and works cited

[1] All figures in the above discussion are in Australian dollars at the value when cited, unless otherwise noted. return to text

[2] Daniel Ironmonger provides a useful definition of the household (or domestic) economy as 'the system that produces and allocates tradeable goods and services by using the unpaid labour and capital of households' (Ironmonger 1993), where households are as much producers of resources as consumers of these resources. In 1994, Ironmonger coined the term 'Gross Household Product' (GHP) for the value added by households through this (still) largely invisible economic activity (Ironmonger 1994). return to text

[3] Michele Cranson: marie claire Zest, Murdoch Books, Sydney, 2003; marie claire Luscious: Simply Delicious Food, Murdoch Books, Sydney, 2005; marie claire Comfort: Real Simple Food, Murdoch Books, Sydney, 2006. This marie claire cookbook series was pioneered in Australia and, with over 1.75 million copies in print worldwide, foreign editions are available in Spain, France, Germany, Holland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Greece and Hungary. return to text

[4] A recent example was the 'A la carte: food and fiction' session at the Sydney Writer's Festival (2 June 2007), featuring Marion Halligan (discussed above) and Joanne Harris - the UK author of six novels including the Whitbread Prize-shortlisted Chocolat, Doubleday, London, 1999 and its sequel, The Lollipop Shoes, Doubleday, London, 2007, and two cookbooks. return to text

[5] Brunel University's Working Class Autobiographical Archive, which includes over 230 autobiographies, with half by women, provides considerable insight into the question of how 'literary', for instance, a narrative by a working-class woman might be, John Burnett noting that 'the first and most obvious characteristic of working-class autobiographies and diaries is the generally high quality of the writing itself' (1976: 13). return to text

[6] Linda Jaivin, Eat Me, Text Publishing, Melbourne, 1995; published as Mange-moi (trans Nathalie Vernay), Florent Massot, Paris, 1999. return to text

[7] Marion Halligan's novels: Self Possession, University of Queensland Press, St. Lucia, 1987; Spider Cup, Penguin, Ringwood, 1990; Minerva, Port Melbourne, 1996; Wishbone, William Heinemann, Port Melbourne, 1994; Minerva, Port Melbourne, 1995, 1996; Lovers' Knots: A Hundred-year Novel, Heinemann, Port Melbourne, 1992; Mandarin, Port Melbourne, 1993, 1996; Minerva, Port Melbourne, 1993; The Golden Dress, Viking, Ringwood, 1998; Penguin, Ringwood, 1999; The Fog Garden, Allen & Unwin Crows Nest, 2001, 2002; The Point, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, 2003a, 2004; The Apricot Colonel, Allen and Unwin, Crows Nest, 2006; Murder on the Apricot Coast, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, 2008. Her collections of short stories: The Living Hothouse, University of Queensland Press, St. Lucia, 1988; Bolinda Press, Melbourne, 1991, 1988; The Hanged Man in the Garden, Penguin, Ringwood, 1989; The Worry Box, Minerva, Port Melbourne, 1993; Collected Short Stories, University of Queensland Press, St. Lucia, 1997. Halligan's book of stories and essays inspired by photographs from the National Library of Australia's Pictorial Collection, Out of the Picture, National Library of Australia, Canberra, 1996; and children's book: The Midwife's Daughters, illustrated by D Mackintosh, Mammoth, Kew, 1997. return to text

[8] Marion Halligan's nonfiction and theatrical works: Eat My Words, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1990; with Stephen Leek, Kilcallow Catch: A Musictheatre Work for Kids, Australian Music Centre, Grosvenor Place, 2002; Gastronomica(s), 1994; Cockles of the Heart, Minerva, Port Melbourne, 1996; with Lucy Frost, Those Women Who Go To Hotels, Minerva, Port Melbourne, 1997; The Taste of Memory, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, 2004. return to text

[9] Magaret Atwood, The Edible Woman, Andre Deutsch, New York, 1969; Isak Dinesen, 'Babette's Feast' in Anecdotes of Destiny, Michael Joseph, London, 1958, 26-65; Nora Ephron, Heartbreak, Vintage, New York, 1980; Laura Esquivel, Like Water for Chocolate (trans C and T Christensen), Doubleday, New York, 1992, first pub. Como Agua Para Chocolate, 1989; Joanne Harris, Chocolat, Viking, New York, 1999. return to text

[10] Margaret Fulton, The Margaret Fulton Cookbook, Paul Hamlyn, Dee Why West, 1968, revised and updated ed with S Gibbs, J Brown and S Gibbs Publishers, Sydney, 2004; The Best of Kelloggs Recipes by Margaret Fulton, Woman's Day, Sydney, 1968; The Margaret Fulton Crockpot Cookbook, Books for Pleasure/Paul Hamlyn, Dee Why West, 1976; Margaret Fulton's Encyclopaedia of Food and Cookery: The Complete Kitchen Companion from A to Z, Hardie Grant Books, Prahran, 1983, rev. and updated ed 2005; A Passionate Cook, Lansdowne, Sydney, 1998; I Sang for My Supper: Memories of a Food Writer, Lansdowne Publishing, Sydney, 1999; with B Beckett, Cooking for Dummies, Hungry Minds, Warriewood, 2001; Margaret Fulton's Kitchen: The Much Loved Essential Recipes from a Lifetime of Cooking, Hardie Grant Books, Melbourne, 2007. return to text

[11] Stephanie Alexander, Stephanie's Menus for Foodlovers, Methuen Haynes, North Ryde, 1985; Mandarin Australia, Port Melbourne, 1991 and 1993, Viking, Ringwood, 2003; Stephanie's Feasts and Stories, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1988, 1989, 1992; Stephanie's Australia: Travelling and Tasting, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1991; Stephanie's Seasons, Allen & Unwin, St Leonards, 1993, 1994, 1998; The Cook's Companion: The Complete Book of Ingredients and Recipes for the Australian Kitchen, Penguin, Ringwood, 1996, 2004; Recipes My Mother Gave Me, Penguin, Ringwood, 1997; Stephanie Alexander & Maggie Beer's Tuscan Cookbook, Viking, Ringwood, 1998, Penguin, Camberwell, 2003; Stephanie's 21 Years of Fabulous Food, Stephanie's, Melbourne, 1998; Stephanie's Journal, Viking, Ringwood, 1999; Cooking & Travelling in South-West France, Penguin, Camberwell, 2002; Lantern, Camberwell, 2006; with Anna Dollard, Kitchen Garden Cooking with Kids, Lantern, Camberwell, 2006. return to text

[12] Barbara Santich's books: The Original Mediterranean Cuisine: Medieval Recipes for Today, Wakefield Press, Kent Town, 1995; Chicago Review Press, Chicago, 1996; Looking for Flavour, Wakefield Press, Kent Town, 1996; What the Doctors Ordered: 150 Years of Dietary Advice in Australia, Hyland House, South Melbourne, 1995; Apples to Zampone: Where to Buy the Best Food in and around Adelaide, Wakefield Press, Kent Town, 1996; rev ed, Wakefield Press, Kent Town, 1999; McLaren Vale: Sea & Vines, Wakefield Press, Kent Town, 1998; In the Land of the Magic Pudding: A Gastronomic Miscellany, Wakefield Press, Kent Town, 2000. return to text

[13] Marion Halligan and Rosanne Fitzgibbon eds, The Gift of Story: Three Decades of UQP Short Stories, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, 1998; Marion Halligan (ed), Storykeepers, Duffy and Snellgrove, Potts Point, 2001. return to text

[14] Barbara Santich's recent scholarly articles: 'Regionalism and Regionalisation in Food in Australia', Rural Society, 12.1, 2002, 5-16; 'Why Study Gastronomy?', Meanjin 61.4, 2002, 171-174; 'Revenge, Cannibalism and Self-Denial', Food & History, 1.1, 2003, 85-94; 'The Study of Gastronomy and its Relevance to Hospitality Education and Training', International Journal of Hospitality Management, 23.1, 2004, 15-24; 'Paradigm Shifts in the History of Dietary Advice in Australia', Nutrition & Dietetics, 62.4, 2005, 152-157; 'With Fork and Pen in Nineteenth-century Paris', Bibliofile, 11.4, 2006. return to text

[15] Maggie Groff, Mothers Behaving Badly, Random House Australia, Milsons Point, 1999; Hoax Cuisine: Faking it in the Kitchen, Simon and Schuster, East Roseville, 2001. return to text

[16] Allison Pearson, I Don't Know How She Does It, Chatto and Windus, London, 2002; Kaz Cooke, Kidwrangling: The Real Guide to Caring For Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers, Viking, Camberwell, 2003. In November 2002, also in the UK, Stephanie Calman launched the 'Bad Mothers Club' website and wrote and published two spin-off books in 2005 and 2006: Stephanie Calman, Confessions of a Bad Mother: In the Aisle by the Chill Cabinet No-one Can Hear You Scream, Macmillan, London, 2005; and Confessions of a Failed Grown-Up: Bad Motherhood and Beyond, Macmillan, London, 2006. return to text

[17] Stephanie Clifford-Smith, A Marvellous Party: The Life of Bernard King, Random House Australia, Milson's Point, 2004. return to text

[18] Clarkson, R, K Harrison, G Hudson, L Jedynak, E Sallis and S Schultz (2002) Forked Tongues: A Delicious Anthology of Poetry and Prose, Wakefield Press, Kent Town, SA. return to text

[19] Liz Byrski, Food, Sex and Money, Pan Macmillan, Sydney, 2005, 2006. return to text

[20] Carol Odell, Once Upon a Time in the Kitchen: Recipes and Tales From the Children's Classics, Citrus Press, Broadway, 2005. return to text

[21] Sally Hammond, Playing Chopsticks: Travels in China, New Holland, Sydney, 2006; Ann Rickard, Not Another Book About Italy, New Holland, Sydney, 2004; Not Another Greek Salad, New Holland, French's Forest, 2004; The Last Book about Italy, New Holland, French's Forest, 2005; Flash & Brash with Fries on the Side: Doing California, New Holland, French's Forest, 2006. return to text

[22] Julian Barnes' The Pedant in the Kitchen, Guardian/Atlantic Books, London, 2003 collects his articles on the trials of the home cook published in the Guardian Review. return to text

[23] Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, Bloomsbury, New York, 2000. return to text

[24] Russell Davies, Egg, Bacon, Chips and Beans: 50 Great Cafes and the Stuff That Makes Them Great, HarperCollins Entertainment, New York, 2005 (this book was also shortlisted for the 2006 Blooker Prize); Bill Buford, Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany, Alfred A Knopf, New York, 2006; Gordon Ramsay, Humble Pie, Roasting in Hell's Kitchen: Temper Tantrums, F Words, and the Pursuit of Perfection, HarperCollins Entertainment, New York, 2006; Gordon Ramsay, Playing with Fire, HarperCollins Entertainment, New York, 2007; Jason Fagone, Horsemen of the Esophagus: Competitive Eating and the Big Fat American Dream, Crown Publishers, New York, 2006. return to text

[25] Anthony Bourdain, A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines, Bloomsbury, New York, 2002; and The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps, and Bones, Bloomsbury, New York, 2006; Jerry Hopkins, Extreme Cuisine: The Weird & Wonderful Foods That People Eat, Bloomsbury, London, 2005; Tom Parker Bowles, The Year of Eating Dangerously: A Global Adventure in Search of Culinary Extremes, Ebury Press/Random House, UK, 2006; Stefan Gates, Gastronaut: Adventures in Food for the Romantic, the Foolhardy, and the Brave, Harcourt, Orlando, 2005. return to text

[26] Julie Powell, Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Kitchen Apartment, Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2005; Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, Penguin Books, Camberwell, 2007. return to text

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This article was researched and written with the support of a Manning Clark House Fellowship. A special thank you to Marion Halligan and Clare Hoey for their focused discussions on this topic, and to the referees of this article for their insightful and useful comments.


Associate Professor Donna Lee Brien, BEd (Deakin), MA (UTS), PhD (QUT), Grad Cert in Higher Ed (UNE), is Head of the School Arts and Creative Enterprise at Central Queensland University, Australia and President of the Association of Writing Programs. Her biography, John Power 1881-1943, is the standard work on this expatriate artist and benefactor, and she is co-author (with Tess Brady) of the popular self-help books Girl's Guide to Real Estate: How to Enjoy Investing in Property and Girl's Guide to Work and Life: How to Create the Life you Want. With special interests in writing pedagogy, creative nonfiction including food writing, biography and self-help writing, and collaborative practice in the arts, Donna has an MA and PhD in Creative Writing, both by creative work plus exegesis, and has published on shaping and supervising the creative arts research higher degree. Past Founding Editor of dotlit: The Online Journal of Creative Writing and Assistant Editor of Imago: New Writing, Donna is currently an Associate Editor of New Writing: the International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing (UK), and on the Board of Readers for Writing Macao. In 2006, Donna was awarded a national Carrick Institute Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning. <dbrien@une.edu.au>


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Vol 12 No 1 April 2008
Editors: Nigel Krauth & Jen Webb