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‘Before we eat’, ‘When we eat’

Throughout thisTasmania you will find extracts of recipes from photographer and publisher Paul Country’s engrossing book When we eat: A seasonal guide to Tasmania’s fine food and drink.

A recipe from the book, accompanied by one of his tasty photographs, will be published under the Tastes of Tasmania category every Wednesday.

When we eatWhen we eat
A seasonal guide to Tasmania’s fine food and drink

By Liz McLeod and Bernard Lloyd
Photography by Paul County
Published by The Culinary Historians of Tasmania 2004
ISBN 0-646-44132-9

Here we have the main course, so to speak, following the delicious and tantalising entree that was the first book by the Culinary Historians of Tasmania — Before we eat.

Where Before we eat talked about Tassie foodstuffs and the people who grow, prepare and serve them, When we eat presents recipe after recipe that will have the armchair chef salivating and the earnest cook out in the kitchen sharpening up the knives.

As the authors say “its 328 pages lay out the journey of food and drink in Tasmania, from the wild to the table, and from the remotest past to the present”. The high priestess of good Aussie tucker, Maggie Beer, wrote the foreword.

In it she remarks how Tasmanian produce is beautifully fresh and fortunately now more widely available, adding that our biggest advantage is our seasonality:

This book
working with
the climate
rather than
against it

“Seasonality, eating food only at its peak, has almost disappeared Australia-wide but you have four distinct seasons here and this book has an especially Tasmanian calendar, indicating just when your (and only your) fresh Tasmanian produce is available … This book celebrates working with the climate rather than against it.”

The premium crops or catches of each season, many with recipes from leading restaurants all over the island, are introduced alphabetically.
Seasonal delights

And so, for Spring, we have a selection including anchovies, artichokes (Essence Restaurant in Devonport delights with Flinders’ Island lamb rump with artichokes, green olives, tomato and a parsley fetta butter), crayfish (plus recipe for Waji’s incomparable Crayfish Laksa, made with Waji’s own Laksa Paste that I can vouch is equally sensational with many other ingredients), and so on.

In Summer, with a nostalgic nod to those lazy hazy days spent at the shack, choose from berries of all kinds (try Freycinet Lodge’s White chocolate and blueberry creme brulee), stone fruits, cheeses, salmon and trout (a campfire recipe by Dennis Alexander, first published by the Hobart Walk Club in 1972, explains how to cook the latter to perfection) and other fish — like Mures’ Scallop pocketed blue eye.

For Autumn, you find apples, mushrooms, pepperberries and much much more.

Finishing in Winter with delicacies such as quinces and olives, plus its extra special bonus of mussels — with a swag of recipes from The Deck at Devonport, The Mussel Boys on the Tasman Peninsula, Meadowbank at Cambridge and others.

Did you say potatoes? Truffles? Venison or wallaby? And how about matching Tasmanian food with Tasmanian wine? All there in these pages of plenty, with wonderfully evocative photography, interesting historical snippets, along with harvesting, storing and cooking tips. LV

Before we eatBefore we eat:
A delicious slice of Tasmania’s culinary life

By Paul County and Bernard Lloyd
Published by The Culinary Historians of Tasmania
ISBN 0-646-42903-5

This is not a cookbook. Not a recipe in sight. Instead a glorious potage of what makes Tassie cuisine, the people who make it, and in slices of history, the people who helped make it — from the Aboriginal earliest inhabitants to the early settlers, determined to create an Antipodean England, to today when immigrants from all around the globe have put down roots here and added their touch of individuality.

Tasmanians drink more beer than anywhere else in Australia, and don’t drink as much wine (at least they didn’t in the 1995 National Nutrition Survey). But ate far more potatoes than everyone else in Australia. Food scientist Barbara Santich unearthed these statistics for her foreword to this delightful book. Tasmania still retains its own character, culture and distinctly different culinary history, all of which are featured.

Early advertisements are rivetting: “Lovely Women are Not Flat-Chested!’ trumpets one, offering Dr Falliere’s “Flesh-Food” to fill scrawny outlines. Early prices are tempting: Purity Food Markets (remember them?) offering Edgell’s Green Beans at 1/9d a tin and Bushell’s sweetened coffee and chicory for just 2/5d a bottle. Historical snippets from all eras add up to a highly entertaining as well as informative book. You don’t have to be a ‘foodie’ in the modern sense to eat it up.

Undoubted highlight is the series of Paul County photographic portraits, in “the spirit of visual puns, quirky juxtapositions and historical conjunctions” to quote the inside jacket blurb. Enjoy.

And for a taste of the quirky photography in this delicious book you have to view Paul County’s portfolio. PH