The NY Times rediscovers Aussie cuisine via our new book
The newspaper’s Besha Rodell finds a definitive description of her country’s cooking in Australia: The Cookbook
Sometimes it's hard to tell where your own national cuisine ends and another's begins. Besha Rodell is an award-winning food critic for The New York Times and T Magazine, based in Melbourne, Australia, and even she has found it hard to describe her country’s native dishes and recipes.
“What is Australian food? Is there even such a thing?” she writes in a recent piece for the NY Times. “These are questions I’ve been asked so many times, and I admit to finding them incredibly frustrating. It doesn’t help that the answers are not simple ones.”
The answers are complicated in part because Australian food means different things to different people. There’s the dishes cooked on the island before colonization; the century and a half of time when, as Rodell puts it, "Anglo colonists mainly cooked to satisfy a craving for the foods of England," and the recipes from more recent decades, "when immigration has vastly changed the way Australians eat."
Thankfully, Rodell now has an answer to her question. In future, she will simply point questioners towards the opening chapters of Australia: The Cookbook, "the first titled ‘A brief introduction to Australian cuisine,’ and the second is an essay on Indigenous food by Jody H. Orcher, an Ularai Barkandji woman and director of Wariku Bushfood Infusions."
The book, written by Ross Dobson, is distinct not only for the way in which it includes pre-colonial, aboriginal cookery alongside more familiar Aussie dishes such as Lamingtons, but also the manner in which the book includes recipes for lasagne, an Italian recipe that Aussies have made their own.
Rodell has spent a while working in the US, and, in leafing through our new book, she realises that there are certain dishes that she never associated solely with her homeland, but that she hasn’t come across while in America. “There are so many recipes I’d not even thought of as Australian, but that I also hadn’t seen since I left,” she writes. “Zucchini slice! Rissoles! Melting moments biscuits!”
You can try all these dishes, and discover (or perhaps rediscover) this unique nation’s culinary heritage, by ordering a copy of The Australian Cookbook here.