A Timeline of Australian Food (Jan O’Connell, NewSouth)
Jan O’Connell’s A Timeline of Australian Food is a worthy and useful addition to the small but growing canon of Australian food history writing. Spanning 1860 to 2010, the book explores interesting facts and stories (some not well known) over the years, tracing the development of Australian food through agriculture, manufacturing, cookbooks, social history and popular culture. The bright, highly illustrated format, using images from contemporary books, advertising and popular culture, is engaging and entertaining. While the design is contemporary and accessible, the contents are quite scholarly and detailed (footnotes abound). Scholars and foodies will find much of interest, while secondary schools will find this a useful reference book. A Timeline of Australian Food expertly fills a gap in our understanding of Australian food history. If there is a quibble, it is only that the reader is often left wanting more, since the ‘timeline’ format restricts a deeper exploration of some of the more fascinating episodes. However, this leaves fertile ground for personal exploration and future books.
Tim White is the co-owner of Books for Cooks, Australia’s specialist culinary bookstore