Monday, January 17, 2011

Consuming passions - the culture of food writing


Late last week I received an invitation via my good friend Dr Space Junk to participate in a food blogging event - yes DSJ knows me well. However, rather than just blogging about food we've eaten, or food we'd like to eat, or food we've cooked, or food we're thinking about cooking, this is a blog event about writing about food.

Walk in the park BHG I hear you say.

Well, yes.

And no.

And as I've been thinking about this post, and what it will contain, I'm taken back to - of all things - one of those team building events that one is often submitted to in the workplace. In this one all participants were asked to bring an item of significance with them and the rest of us had to see if we could conjure up which one of us it belonged to. I bought along a plastic spade from my days as a sandcastle architect. Resplendent in hot pink it has little seagulls and wave ripples moulded into it.

This spade, correctly or not, represents to me seemingly endless summers spent at Silver Sands beach in the outreaches (then) of the Adelaide suburbs. This was an idyllic location, and certainly the best of my childhood memories. Family upon family crammed into this beach house (many thanks to google.maps).

In the days before we were concerned with skin cancer, and with feminism and multi-culturalism on the rise a motley crew of women, children and men, Anglo, French, Italian, Greek, gay, straight were all crammed into the three bedrooms. I particularly remember the curtains the room where the children slept and I fell out of the top bunk without waking. I also remember the year I broke my foot and couldn't go because of the perilous stairs. I remember the sand running out of our swimmers in the downstairs shower and the musty smell that came out of the shed that contained surfboards and the ping pong table. I remember hot, hot days and cool nights of cricket in the backyard. I remember FABULOUS 1970s brown bottle glass in the windows which now, sadly, seems to have gone.

But aside from these drifting memories of the pre-iPod Australian summer, I remember two things. And both of these things relate to the long dining table, which probably wasn't as long as I remember it. I remember intricately prepared dinners where everyone, kids included, pitched in. I remember going out to the local farms to pick ears of corn and fresh berries that ended up on that table. I remember making fresh pasta and mousaka and wonderful crisp salad. And I remember the variety of languages spoken and the cultures that made up that commune.

Looking back at that plastic spade that I chose to bring along to my team building day, it represented the dining table. And I realised that's where two of my greatest loves in adult life emerged: food and language (and dinosaurs, but that's another post).

On an unconnected trip to a local ramen restaurant one of my friends commented on her inherent distrust of people who eat to live rather than live to eat. That summer holiday dining table certainly made me one of the later. And so now I talk about food, think about food, think about eating food (yes, I'm thinking about eating ramen as I type this), and I write about food. Even though I have famously said that this is no longer a food blog, you only need to look at the list of blogs that I follow to know that that's not really true (mmmmm... and the amount of time I blog about food).

This is a long (very long) and involved way of letting you know that good.is is starting a week of food blogging posts from an interesting and eclectic bunch of bloggers with an interest in food, and an interest in writing about food, or writing about the cultural implications of writing about food.

At some stage this week I will be blogging about cultural heritage, interpretation, and food. Now I have set the scene and provided the background of life dedicated to bigger thighs, stay tuned!

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