Postcard from McLaren Vale

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Autumn Vineyard Feature
Autumn Vines, McLaren Vale

Featured Image: McLaren Vale Vineyards

ORT_Logo Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony,  1 April 2022


Postcard from McLaren Vale

Other Postcards are from: Boudhanath StupaDubaiViennaRock of CashelLake Tabourie, Tongariro Crossing and Tupare Garden.

Australian outsiders often don’t think of South Australia. But, South Australia is an amazing tourist destination.

We came to McLaren Vale to house-sit a vineyard, a dog and two horses in early May for 5 weeks in 2021 between Covid lockdowns. We have a big family reunion over Easter in 2022 and have returned to house-sit the same place for around 5 weeks from 24 March to near the end of April in 2022.

McLaren Vale

45 minutes south of the city of Adelaide. The McLaren Vale wine area is a unique protected region just south of the Adelaide suburbs. With the Onkaparinka Gorge and surrounding rural area on the north, the beaches of Port Noarlaunga, Maslin’s, Willunga and Aldinga to the west, the Adelaide hills or Mount Lofty Ranges to the east and the rest of the Fleurieu Peninsula to the south (Victor Harbour and Goolwa/Coorong about 40 minutes away), McLaren Vale is an idyllic gem of sustainable vineyards and native bush.

The size of McLaren Vale is slightly variable the official size is 59 sq km but doesn’t include Willunga. My estimate is about 75 sq km or 7500 hectares. McLaren Vale is small by comparison with other wine areas. The Barossa, for example is 912 sq km. Hence McLaren Vale is very manageable for visitors.

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AA Gill British Pubs

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ORT_Logo  Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony, 1 December 2020


AA Gill & British Pubs

AA Gill & Jeffrey Steingarten

Two wonderful food writers are the late AA Gill, UK and Jeffrey Steingarten, USA. Both have a unique voice and have brought something special to ‘foodie’ writing. Both writers have created a persona, which whilst probably not true adds something immeasurable to their style.

AA Gill seems to be an angry, sardonic working or lower middle class intellectual with a ‘chip on his shoulder’. Although, this is not an adequate description. It is superficial, and certainly not true. He was upper middle class from a happy background.

What is true is that he spent his late teens and the whole of his twenties as a drunk.

Jeffrey Steingarten presents the persona of a New Yorker with obsessive compulsive behaviours. It is also probably not true, but adds an energy to his writing. I’ll cover him in a later article.

Steingarten tends to give you more information than you ever wanted to know, but in a very entertaining way. AA Gill gives you less than you want (fewer column inches).

I’ll concentrate on AA Gill, who wrote a few short articles on the British pub amidst a massive oeuvre of food and travel writing. Although he offended many people constantly, it was an integral part of his style. The quotations below are from Table Talk 2007 a collection of his column articles from the Sunday Times.

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International Peasant Foods

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Ucayali River, Pucallpa, Peruvian Amazon 1974

Featured Image: Ucayali River, Pucallpa, Peruvian Amazon 1974

ORT_Logo  Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony, 30 March 2020

International Peasant Foods

The idea for a restaurant called International Peasant Foods began in Winnipeg. The background is outlined in the previous article Winnipeg as the Center of the Food Universe in 1973. The article explains why only once in a lifetime can one be naïve about food and completely open to new dishes and taste experiences. Nevertheless, I still needed to experience more variety of ethnic or regional foods.

Beyond that the idea for an International Peasant Foods restaurant had a long-term gestation, which lasted through three long term relationships. The idea was freshest, however, in South Africa and in Australia in the late 1970s. The refinements later were small.

 

Cool Gay Men on Balcony, New York 1974
Cool Gay Men on Balcony, New York 1974

The International Peasant Foods restaurant idea, with a better restaurant name, didn’t ever eventuate. I knew all along, that creating and running a restaurant is a bone-numbing labour of love, which requires the dedication and physical hard work that has never been my style.

In my defence for never getting beyond the inclination, for most of my career I’ve earned more money by thinking and arranging, than by manual efforts. A character flaw in certain circles I’m sure.

I did engage in sustained physical effort for things that were deeply meaningful (such as zoological field work in natural environments), early on in my development.

International Peasant Foods evolved over twenty years. All my girlfriends who shared the idea with me in the two decades concerned, three of them, loved cooking and liked eating too, but it was only the last one who had talent to burn. She did cook for some years in an executive boardroom in London and thoroughly enjoyed it. But age caught up and made using her law degree a better option.

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Winnipeg Center of the Food Universe

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Featured Image: Front of La Vielle Gare Menu
Featured Image: Front of La Vielle Gare Menu

ORT_Logo  Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony, 21 February 2020


Winnipeg Center of the Food Universe, 1973

Background

I moved to Winnipeg as a PhD student in zoology at the University of Manitoba in 1973 and lived there for about 14 months. I have many memories of this time, but memories of food are particularly strong though the details are vague. Preliminary contact with Winnipeg newspapers and historical societies to verify my memory of restaurant names were fruitless. No helpful strangers. Memory is unreliable as I showed in False Memories & the Mill on the Floss, an article also set in Canada in 1973.

I’ll therefore take the Christopher Isherwood approach from Lions and Shadows 1937.

To the Reader, Christopher Isherwood, Lions & Shadows 1937
To the Reader, Christopher Isherwood, Lions & Shadows 1937

Christopher Isherwood’s autobiography of his school and university years is perhaps reminiscent of my situation in Canada. My recollections are not indiscreet and perhaps not entirely true.


Author, Manitoba Stampede, Morris 1973
Author, Manitoba Stampede, Morris 1973

Why was Winnipeg the Center of the Food Universe?

I use ‘was’ rather than ‘is’ because it was a very long time ago and entirely personal.

Winnipeg in 1973 had a population of around half a million. It has grown very slowly since. The population in 2019 is 808,419. Winnipeg has more restaurants now but they don’t look unique on the net. One feels that they’d be typical of any English speaking small-city anywhere, nowadays. They were perhaps more culturally distinct then. Continue reading “Winnipeg Center of the Food Universe”

The Humble Percent & Food Labels

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Sugar Frosty Feature

ORT_Logo   Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony,  24 November 2017


The Humble Percentage and Food Labels

Introduction

Percent or (percentage) used to be spelled per cent (and sometimes still is). It comes from the latin per centum meaning by the hundred.

What percent means is changing any list of numbers that add up to an irregular total into a modified list that adds up to 100. Once you get used to it reading a table of percentages becomes familiar and comfortable. Percentages can also be expressed as fractions and odds (think racecourses).

For example, 50% is a half, or odds of 2 to 1 in racecourse parlance (still meaning 1 chance in 2, but expressed this way because you get $2 profit for every $1 bet). 33% is about one third, 25% a quarter, 20% one fifth and 10% one tenth. Continue reading “The Humble Percent & Food Labels”

Food in Chiang Mai 6: 2017 Update

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Featured Image Muang Mai Wholesale Market
Featured Image Muang Mai Wholesale Market

Featured image:Muang Mai Wholesale Market, March 2017

ORT_Logo   Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony,  4 May 2017

Food in Chiang Mai 6: 2017 Update

Denise and I left Australia on 16 January and returned on 7 March 2017. We stayed in Chiang Mai from 24 February to 5 March (10 days) a much shorter time than usual. We’d previously spent four weeks in Burma, attended a family wedding in Bangkok, and spent a few days at a resort in Hua Hin (not my favourite style or place, but family).

It is always nice to come back to Chiang Mai. It is one of my favourite places in Thailand — much cheaper than Bangkok, but more manageable also.

Chiang Mai has been changing rapidly over the past five years with continuing development. Chinese tourism is having a major impact (especially at Chinese New year) and will continue to expand. As in many places, the provincial government is not always making sensible decisions with regard to development.

Continue reading “Food in Chiang Mai 6: 2017 Update”

Food writing 3: More Articles I liked from Choice Cuts

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ORT_Logo   Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony,  7 October 2016

Choice cuts feature


Food writing 3: More Articles I liked from Choice Cuts by Mark Kurlansky

Writing about food some fine writers and articles

Introduction

In Food writing 1, I analysed Mark Kurlansky’s anthology Choice Cuts: A Savory Selection of Food Writing from Around the World and Throughout History, 2002. The book contains 234 articles, which covers the range of food writing from 500 BC to roughly the last thirty years.

It is my task here to continue the descriptions and commenting articles in the book that I feel worthy of following up on.

The Continuing List

This is the continuing list of the remainder of the 32 articles I liked in Choice Cuts. They are in the order they appeared in the book.

I’ll also cover the 40 others I felt worthy of mention later.

Continue reading “Food writing 3: More Articles I liked from Choice Cuts”

Food writing 2: Articles I liked from Choice Cuts

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orwell-feature

ORT_Logo   Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony,  11 September 2016

Food writing 2: Articles I liked from Choice Cuts by Mark Kurlansky

Writing about food some fine writers and articles

Introduction

In Food writing 1, I analysed Mark Kurlansky’s anthology Choice Cuts: A Savory Selection of Food Writing from Around the World and Throughout History, 2002. The book contains 234 articles, which covers the range of food writing from 500 BC to roughly the last thirty years. I said that I thought Kurlansky had done a good job of covering the breadth and depth of food writing. I then looked at the range of writers involved and gave a brief description of those who had four articles or more in the book.

My only qualms with Kurlansky’s range had to do with my wish to be entertained and informed through good writing. On these subjective criteria I chose 32 articles that I admired and another 40 I found of interest.

It is my task in this and the next article to give some descriptions and at least acknowledge articles in the book that I feel worthy of following up on. A somewhat daunting task I now realise.

Continue reading “Food writing 2: Articles I liked from Choice Cuts”

Food Writing 1: Mark Kurlansky, Choice Cuts

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Choice cuts feature

ORT_Logo   Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony,  1 September 2016

Food Writing 1: Choice Cuts by Mark Kurlansky, a look at food writing across history

Writing about food an introductory excursion

Introduction

I am a fan of Mark Kurlansky’s writing. I loved Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World, 1997 and The Basque History of the World (1999). Although I found Salt: A World History, a bit hard going 2002. Those of you who have been following my What is History? series will not be surprised about my liking for Cod.

Without going deeper into Kurlansky’s biography two things emerge from his first two books above, particularly the second, which is his passion for and love of food.

I picked up Choice Cuts secondhand from Canty’s bookstore. It was one of those books that one feels one has to read. Although I admit it languished on my bookshelves for two years before I began to read it. I found it fascinating but rather hard going too. I suspect many people buy Choice Cuts and only dip into it casually. It is quite tome-like at 473 pages and easy to consider as a reference book, but unlike Larousse Gastronomique, which is a reference book, though a wonderful one, it is possible to read Choice Cuts the whole way through.

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Food Catalogue 2016

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Ton Lamyai part of Wororot Market
Ton Lamyai part of Wororot Market

ORT_Logo   Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony,  1 July 2016


Food Catalogue, BreadtagSagas 2016

The articles so far are mainly about food in Chiang Mai, Thailand with two longer articles about mangoes and British food.

Continue reading “Food Catalogue 2016”