Ordinary Lifestyles: Popular Media, Consumption and Taste

By David Bell; Joanne Hollows | Go to book overview

6 Monoculture versus
multiculinarism
Trouble in the Aussie kitchen

Felicity Newman and Mark Gibson

In a recent essay on transformations in Australian society and culture since the Second World War, writer and social commentator David Malouf settles on food as a particularly potent signifier of change. As a point of reference, he remembers the diet of his childhood growing up in Brisbane in the 1930s and 1940s. Despite his Lebanese background, this was overwhelmingly derived from the British Isles:

For tea at night, Shepherd's Pie or Irish Stew … Or pork sausages
with mashed potato or mashed pumpkin, and peas of an
unnatural greenness from the good pinch of bicarb that has
gone into the boiling water. Or corned beef and cauliflower with
white sauce. At the weekend, a baked dinner – beef with
Yorkshire pudding. And on Saturday mornings the week's
leftover bread turned into cold Bread Pudding. And the
puddings! Diplomat Pudding, Golden Syrup Pudding, Queen of
Pudding.

(Malouf 2003: 9)

Then, after the war, ‘things changed’:

There was an intermediary period in the ‘50s when food was
represented on menus all up and down the country by T-bone
steak, often in the form of ‘Steak and the Works’, which in
Brisbane at least meant spaghetti, chips and salad (nothing more
transitional, surely, than this early version of fusion) or Wiener
Schnitzel. The first clear move from an entrenched English style
to a rather eclectic ‘something different’, half Italo-American,
half Central European, and the first timid indication that we
were ready to break away and experiment.

(p. 11)

The trend reached its full-blown extension in the 1980s and 1990s, with the development in Australia of a certain West Coast American/

-82-

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