Earliest food memories include the luxury of roast chicken, my father's sausages and onion gravy which waited for the rest of the family when we returned from church on a Sunday morning, my mother's sponge covered in cream and strawberries, the roast duck at Christmas and the watermelon both brought home by my father, plucking the duck after dipping in the hot water in the "copper". Fishing for whiting and mud crabs.
Arriving in Sydney in 1961 and being knocked over by the exotic dish called "spaghetti bolognese". The food in the Navy, "scran" as it was called, very plain, that varied from bad to edible and even looked forward to some things. The crunch came when I left the Navy and set up home and had to start cooking and quickly learnt it was something I enjoyed. Taught myself the basics then French, Indonesian, Indian, suddenly went back to the food of my childhood, corn beef, steak & kidney, then Greek, Italian and soon the whole Mediterranean. Stephanie Alexander, Maggie Beer, Elizabeth David, Jane Grigson, Anne Willan and a host of other writers became my guides to gastronomy, I developed a passion for literature on food and cooking. I now mostly cook by instinct, make it up from what ever is to hand, and can never remember the exact ingredients or quantities.
Food and Museums
Interest in food extended beyond the love of cooking, it also was also translated into a practical interest for my work in museums.
At both the Australian Museum and the Australian National Maritime Museum I was responsible for the organisation of catering - variously: the cafe for the public, the hire of spaces in the museum and the associated caterer and the food & wine for official museum functions. One event in particular was the spark that started my later interest in developing public programs at the Maritime Museum - The Australian Symposium of Gastronomy wanted to use the Atrium space at the Australian Museum for one of the Symposium functions, the centre piece of which involved a decorated cake in the shape of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, along with, in minature, a recreation of the !988 fireworks display. Apart from being "rapped over the knuckles" for allowing this to happen inside the building, the event opened up the door to the possibilities of food as theatre and as a public program.
At the Maritime Museum, I initiated and encouraged a "Food at Sea" theme out of which a series of public programs were developed by an enthusiastic team into weekend festivals , as well as a number of themed dinners.
Writing, Dinner & Event programs
- Have a Maderia my Dear Signals magazine Sept 2008
- Scurvy Dog Dinner - Barley Gruel
- Titanic Dinner
- Food at Sea – Eating and Drinking with Sailors 1500 to 2000 ISBN 0 642 708185 - 2 sections RMS Titanic & RMS Queen Mary