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Paul Van Reyk – True to the Land, A History of Food in Australia

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Resharing this rich conversation with Paul Van Reyk (S2/Ep13) all about his excellent book True to the Land – A History of Food in Australia published in 2021. Great listening for a wet old weekend, our changing foodways & climate, & with so many fascinating insights about our rich, diverse food histories that include Chinese contributions since the gold rushes and more.

Why now? topical & connecting with recent Eps - Grazing Down the Lachlan, a curated foodie event that in '22 celebrated Chinese cuisine & bush foods from the region; and great conversation with Michael Claessens, Food In The Capital /Canberra Region Food Collaborative (...and the sensational Victualis Dinner I was lucky to get to ... am still savouring the delicious slow cooked beef with lilly good). 

Paul is a food writer, a regular presenter at the Symposium of Australian Gastronomy, and is passionate about our food history and foodways. His wonderful book travels far and wide to tell the interwoven stories of the history of the food of Australia, spanning 65,000 years from its beginnings with the First Nations people and of the impacts of colonization on those foodways and people. It’s a fascinating story that shares tales and linkages to show how our foodways and change within them are closely interwoven with social, political, and immigration policies, twists and turns over time, as well as the influences of scientific and technological advances that together shaped and got us here to ‘Modern Australian’ food.  

With Michael Symons and others, Paul contributed to the first Symposium of Australian Gastronomy that was held in the early 1980s, and Michael’s book, One Continuous Picnic: A History of Eating in Australia (published in 1982) was, until now, the most comprehensive food history of Australia. Paul pays tribute to and builds upon the work of Michael and many other great chefs, food writers, and researchers. 

As Paul shares in conversation, a driving passion was to include more of the story of the foods of First Australians (and impacts on them), of migrant Australians, and of everyday women – oft-neglected –  in how our diverse food cultures and love for them evolved and is shared. And the environment, the land – and how true to it – our foodways have been and could be in the future is very close to mind and hand throughout this great book.        

“From millennia-old fish traps to television’s MasterChef Australia, by way of damper and mutton, lamingtons and Anzacs, True to the Land charts the evolution of Australian food and agriculture, acknowledging the contributions of the many cultures that make up contemporary Australia” 

Barbara Santich, Professor Emeritus, The University of Adelaide

True to the Land – A History of Food in Australia is available from Booktopia, Angus & Robertson, and Dymocks bookstores. 


True to the Land:

Nourishing Matters: nourishingmatterstochewon

Foodswell: foodswellaustralia


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