Confirming the status of certain dishes popularly accepted as ‘regional’ proves particularly difficult when hard evidence is sought from localised cookbooks. Attempts to track the recipes for such dishes back in time add a further dimension to the problem. Because regional cuisines are necessarily founded on regional dishes, their status becomes problematic in turn. This article considers the criteria by which certain dishes are deemed ‘regional’ (by regulation, professional judgment or popular association); and, by examining several dishes widely associated with New Zealand cuisine, shows how such labeling can conceal (or at least obscure) more culturally nuanced and complex histories. The examination of dishes through their proxies, recipes, shows that an evolutionary approach, combined with the concept of the culinary tradition, offers a clearer perspective on the phenomenon of localisation than the ahistorical concept of a regional cuisine.Regional dishes, regional cuisine, cultural evolution, culinary tradition, Southland, New Zealand, Euroterroirs
John E. Crowley opens his paper ‘The Sensibility of Comfort’ with an observation of the English from Spaniard, Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella. Writing in 1808, Espriella notes:
There are two words in their language on which these people pride themselves, and which they say cannot be translated. Home is the one, by which an Englishman means his house… The other word is comfort; it means all the enjoyments and privileges of home; they have enjoyments which we never dream of (1999: 1).
As far removed from ‘home’ as an English person could ever imagine, one form of ‘comfort’ for the first settlers of New South Wales could be found in something as simple as a cup of tea. The First Fleet arrived from England in 1788 with a two years’ supply of salt provisions but tea and sugar were not included in the government rations. Among the native vegetation around Port Jackson (now Sydney) that was deemed edible by the European settlers, one species in particular stood out from the others, according to extant records from the time: smilax glyciphylla, a native sarsparilla, which the colonists named ‘sweet tea’. By 1788 tea was entrenched in British culture and rather than being the luxury item it had previously been, was regarded by many as a necessity. More importantly, for the early colonists, in an unknown place in uncertain times, sweet tea provided a necessary ‘comfort’ and was regarded as a health-giving restorative. According to First Fleeter, Captain Watkin Tench, this indigenous tea alternative “was drank universally” (1793/1998: 18).
This article began as a gastronomic investigation into ‘sweet tea’ from the colonists’ perspective. That is, with an interest in why we eat what we eat, or in this case, drink. It documents the Europeans’ attitudes towards this native resource as a tea. By examining contemporary letters, diaries and journals that refer to sweet tea, several key points in the broader gastronomic context emerge. First, the investigation provides fresh insight into the colonists’ engagement with their new environment, exposing differences across the social tiers. Second, the importance of tea as a cultural entity is evident, as a marker of civility among the higher social orders and a necessary comfort in the lower social stratum. In this context tea is indicative of the extent that colonists, including convicts, maintained a right to ‘comfort’, despite Port Jackson being a penal settlement, in providing themselves with at least one enjoyment and privilege from home: drinking tea.Convicts, First Fleet, comfort, native food, tea
Resisting Ages-Old Fixity as a Factor in Wine Quality: Colonial wine tours and Australia’s early wine industry
A leading Australian wine writer agrees with wine scientists that it is possible to make wines “that taste of where they’re from” but argues that Australian growers focus more on regionality than the micro-sites of terroir (Allen, 2010: 19–20). It is ironic, then, that the most successful Australian export wines are cross-regional blends with consistent taste rather than aroma, bouquet or flavour discernable from discrete places (Banks et al., 2007: 33). Some Australian fine wine producers see this subversion of the perceived value of regionality as a barrier to greater industry success and are focusing on connection to soil as an indicator of wine quality; identifying family links with “patches of dirt” to emphasis the heritage of their wines (Lofts, 2010: vx). But my argument here is that the Australian industry is still so young compared with Old World wine regions that a seemingly natural balance of wine and place—exemplified in the notion of terroir—is still taking shape. The genesis of the Australian wine industry lay in movement rather than fixity as colonists brought plant stock, and vine growing and wine making knowledge, from the Old World to the New.Wine history, Australian colonial history, Australian agricultural history, environmental history
Joanna Henryks and Bethaney TurnerAbstract
Consumer behaviour in the organic market has been the focus of numerous studies. However the research does not produce consistent results and fails to explain why around 60% of consumers switch between organic and conventional food on a regular basis. This article explores this ‘switching’ behaviour and identifies the need to look beyond reasons such as cost and availability. It then highlights inconsistencies that exist in this market and explores these using the concept of paradox. The aim is to provide insight into the complexity and ambiguity of consumers’ experiences in the arena of organic food. This is done through three studies exploring different perspectives on consumers and organic food in Canberra.Organics, Canberra, consumer behaviour, ethical consumption
La Isla Grande de Chiloé, located off the southern coast of Chile, is the second largest island on the Pacific coast of South America. 2002 census figures identified the population of the island and its smaller outliers (henceforth referred to collectively as Chiloé) as close to 155,000, representing approximately 1% of Chile’s overall population. An undeveloped regional ‘backwater’ for most of the 19th and 20th centuries, Chiloé has risen to play an increasingly prominent role in the national economy since the establishment of commercial salmon aquaculture in the region in the early 1980s. This article examines the environmental, social and cultural impacts of the salmon industry in Chiloé with particular regard to regional food culture. Assessing these impacts, the article also analyses the manner in which local artists and writers have deployed traditional folkloric figures and motifs to critique the industry. In these regards, the article addresses the tensions and intersections between two contrasting impulses: the modernisation/industrialisation that has resulted from the region’s incorporation within a global salmon aquaculture enterprise; and a more cautious local engagement with modernity that attempts to value and sustain aspects of pre-modern Chilote culture in contemporary contexts.Chiloé, salmon, aquaculture/mariculture, cuisine, tourism, folklore, visual arts
Tony Whincup and Ross HemeraAbstract
A hangi, or traditional method of underground cooking using steam from heated stones, is historical and contemporary, symbolic and utilitarian, communal and individual; and reaffirms cultural values and beliefs. It is a central and vital component in the maintenance of tikanga (Maori cultural customs and practices). Within the ever-changing technologies of contemporary life the hangi adapts and survives while maintaining its core cultural meaning. This photo essay records the established practice on an urban marae. Although traditionally procured materials of wood and stone were not available the ‘waste’ from contemporary life—old sheets of corrugated iron, wooden produce palettes, the couplings of discarded railway lines and yesterday’s newspapers—were brought in as alternatives in order to carry on the practice of ‘putting down the hangi’. This adaptation speaks much for the cultural significance of the hangi and its dialectical relationship in establishing and maintaining a sense of identity for both the individual and the community.
The pleasure and pride experienced in producing a hangi is not so much about individual involvement but rather in contributing to the community. The hangi is a part of an encompassing practice of upholding mana (the supernatural force in a person, group of people, place or object) and manaakitanga (prestige through hosting and hospitality) that is inextricably a part of an underpinning Maori worldview. This article focuses upon the hangi as a part of the powhiri process in which manuhiri, or visitors, become one with the tangata whenua, ‘the people of the land’, with reference to a particular hangi that took place in Maraeroa Marae, Porirua in December 2009.hangi, tikanga, marae, marae atea, tikanga, mana
In the 1930s Henry Willson and Sydney Jacka, two young men from Euroa in central Victoria, imported some live specimens of Rana catesbeiana (the American bullfrog) to farm for edible frog legs. Despite the arrival of two separate batches of frogs from the United States, efforts to establish a farm were unsuccessful. Only the year before, another anuran—the cane toad (Rhinella marina)—was imported into Queensland as a biological control for native beetle pests on sugar cane. The cane toad was overly successful in adapting to new surroundings. This article gives a brief history of the biology and use of frogs, especially when used as food, before exploring the impetus for Australia’s first frog farm at Euroa. Today, wild or farmed frog legs are an important diet item in many countries, but not in Australia. Extinctions and diseases of frogs and toads in some parts of the world—including Australia’s rainforests—are of great concern to biologists and ecologists. Introductions of the American bullfrog and cane toad have been linked here and elsewhere with the spread of disease and with frog population declines. The article concludes with some historically informative recipes for frog legs and related dishes.Euroa, food history, frog legs, frog farm, Rana catesbeiana