Food corner

"To eat well in England you should have breakfast three times a day."

Somerset Maugham

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Symons on the importance of gastronomy

I came across this quote while doing research for my dissertation on Australian and British cuisines. I am lucky enough to be in email contact with Michael who said that he thought (when he saw my email address) that I meant One Dish Closer to Death! I thought this quote was quite funny in light of that. Indeed, that is certainly a valid way of looking at it, so make sure you enjoy it.

"I have done a quick calculation and decided that: You can reasonably expect 76,650 meals during your life, but to die only once. We can look on these everyday events as nourishment, sensual gratification, conviviality, cultural expression and, in accumulation, a commentary upon society and life. Surely that's enough for any intellectual."

Michael Symons

Symons, M. 1984. A Potted History of Australian Gastronomy. In Santich, B. ed. The Upstart Cuisine: Proceedings of the First Symposium of Australian Gastronomy, Carclew, Adelaide, March 12 and 13, 1984. Adelaide: No publisher given.


The bad teeth of British royalty

English royalty had a reputation for having bad teeth in the 16th century. Sidney Mintz quotes a German traveller of the 16th century who met Queen Elizabeth at court:

"The Queen, in the 65th year of her age (as we were told), very majestic; her face oblong, fair but wrinkled; her eyes small, yet black and pleasant; her nose a little hooked, her lips narrow, and her teeth black (a defect the English seem subject to, from their too great use of sugar)." 

Mintz, S. (1986 [1985]) Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History, London: Penguin. (p.134)



Pigsy Papas on pigs' bums

My cousin Kirsty knows a lot about pigs and eating them. She has a blog all about this. We were just chatting on Facebook about an impending trip to a Chinese restaurant which serves lots of offal...

Vicky: Yum yum, pigs bum! (literally)

Kirsty: Apparently they bleach pigs ring holes and pass them off as squid rings in China!!


von Bismarck on sausages

"Laws are like sausages. It's better not to see them being made."

Otto von Bismarck

Jessica B. Harris on Soul Food

My recent trip to Sydney, where southern soul food is currently all the rage, inspired me to share this quote...

Fried chicken at Hartsyard, Sydney

"Soul food has been defined as the traditional African American food of the South as it has been served in black homes and restaurants around the country, but there is a wide-ranging disagreement on exactly what that food was. Was it solely the food of the plantation South that was fed to the enslaved: a diet of hog and hominy supplemented with whatever could be hunted or foraged or stolen to relieve its monotony? Was it the traditionallly less-noble parts of the pig that were fed to the enslaved, like the chitterlings and hog maws and pigs' feet, the taste for which had been carried to the North by those who left the South in search of jobs? Was it the foods that nourished those who danced at rent parties in Harlem and who went to work in the armament factories during World War II? Was it the fried chicken that was served by the waiter-carriers who hawked their wares at train stations in Virginia or the chicken that was packed in boxes and nourished those who migrated to Kansas and other parts of the West? Was it the smothered pork chop that turned up in the African American restaurants covered in rich brown gravy or the fluffy cornbread that accompanied it? 

Soul food it would seem depends on an ineffable quality. It is a combination of nostalgia for and pride in the food of those who came before ... In the 1960s, as the history of African Americans began to be rewritten with pride instead of with the shame that had previously accompanied the experience of disenfranchisement and enslavement, soul food was as much an affirmation as a diet. Eating neckbones and chitterlings, turnip greens and fried chicken, became a political statement for many" 

Harris, J.B. 2011. We Shall Not Be Moved. In H. Hughes, ed. Best Food Writing 2011. Philadelphia: Da Capo Press, 9-115.