2018 Presenters & Abstracts N-Z

In alphabetical order

Refuges of the Blighted Wilds

Virginia Nazarea, Yasuaki Sato, Constanza Monterrubio Solís, Terese Gagnon, Mike Anastario & Jocelyn Bosse

Modernity’s invasions and interventions have installed “miracle” crops, “plum” commodities, and “magic bullet” fixes into human consciousness and lifeways, but not without retort. In ecological edges and cultural folds, multi-vocal, multi-sensory, and multispecies kinships have emerged as refuges of practice and memory. We examine both persistent and emergent forms of co-creations and counters that affectively and effectively challenge global alienation and homogenization, or noplaceness. What accounts for the resilience of these refuges? Why do they constitute powerful terms of emplacement when they are in many ways out-of-place?


Conservation out of place
Virginia Nazarea
University of Georgia, USA

The conventional meaning of conservation dictates a scientific framework, a policy mandate, and a management plan. In the realm of plant genetic resources, or PGR, most of the effort has been invested in ex-situ conservation which means collecting germplasm from places of origin, be it in the wild or in farmers’ fields, and systematically characterising, evaluating, and storing these materials for posterity, breeding, and exchange. The system is driven by the threat of loss and the idea of salvage. Given this, the response—cold storage in progressively more controlled, more distant, and “blacker” boxes—make a great deal of sense.

Meanwhile, in secret places “far from pomp and pride”, co-being, enchantment, and memory entice people to hold on to things or assemblages of things—plants among them—that hold meaning and make life more whole, bearable, and interesting. More milieus than memorials, these presumably insignificant spaces account not only for the preservation but also the generation of the biodiversity that frameworks, mandates, and plans seek to conserve. This paper examines three such spaces—immigrant homegardens, “rustic” kitchens, and public seed libraries—to foreground conservation that is beyond design and out of the way (and in some ways, in the way).

Virginia D. Nazarea is Professor of Anthropology andDirector of the Ethnoecology/Biodiversity Laboratory at the University of Georgia. She has authored Cultural Memory and Biodiversity and Heirloom Seeds and Their Keepers: Memory and Marginality in the Conservation of Biological Diversity and co-edited Seeds of Resistance, Seeds of Hope:Place and Agency in the Conservation of Biodiversity. She serves as Series Editor for the University of Arizona Press’ recently-launched “Biodiversity in Small Spaces”. Her current research examines the repatriation of native potatoes from the International Potato Center (CIP) gene bank to the Quechua farmers in Cusco, Peru.


‘Then, and only then, could we move onto something sweet.’
Finding your place, knowing your place, keeping your place

Jacqui Newling
University of Sydney

Women have created and maintained their place in their homes, communities and broader society through the rituals of cooking, eating and sharing food in the domestic realm. This paper draws from family memoirs, oral histories, manuscript recipes and community cookbooks to present four short comparative case studies where food and cooking are forms of self-expression and identity in the home and wider community for women of different social standing and economic means in regional and urban Australian households in the first half of the twentieth century. They illustrate the importance of food in shaping and maintaining structural and organisational codes within complex systems of social and familial connection within and radiating from the domestic sphere.

Whether orchestrated as forms of social expression, expectation, aspiration, necessity or expediency, ritualised and performative culinary practices and routines demonstrate ways that women expressed, organised and distinguished themselves domestically and socially as cooks, hosts, guests, friends, family providers and community members. Some women adhered or conceded to social norms and expectations while others openly defied them. Their practices and performances show how these women have constructed and reflected their social identities, and established and asserted their places in the familial and social ecosystems in their communities, through food.

Jacqui Newling is a LCB Masters in Gastronomy graduate through Adelaide University and specialises in early Australian colonial foodways and culinary heritage.

As an interpretation curator and ‘resident gastronomer’ at Sydney Living Museums (SLM) Jacqui uses food to interpret and communicate history and heritage in a variety of mediums. She hosts regular Colonial Gastronomy programs and workshops at SLM’s heritage places and is ‘the Cook’ in SLM’s food heritage blog, The Cook & the Curator. Jacqui co-curated ‘Eat your history, a shared table’ exhibition at The Museum of Sydney (2013-2014), and is author of Eat your history, stories and recipes from Australian kitchens. (SLM and New South Publishing, 2015).

Jacqui continues post-graduate studies in history at Sydney University researching food and food security in the founding years of colonial settlement in New South Wales and Norfolk Island.


In conversation
The getting of garlic: Australian food from bland to brilliant

John Newton with Charmaine O’Brien

A history of non-Indigenous Australian food told through a garlic lens. The white colonisers of Australia suffered from Alliumphobia, a fear of garlic. Local cooks didn’t touch the stuff and it took 200 years for that fear to lift. This fascinating, and at times controversial, food history of Australia shows we stubbornly held onto British/Anglo Celtic assumptions about produce and cooking for a long time, and these fed our views on racial hierarchies and our place in the world. Before Garlic we had meat and potatoes; After Garlic what we ate got much more interesting. But has a national cuisine emerged? What is Australian food culture?

Our produce and ingredients are more diverse than ever before, our chefs are acclaimed as some of the best in the world and unlike many of our great-grandparents, we are garlic eaters. But has what we eat changed as much as we think?

Charmaine O’Brien will be in conversation with John Newton about how Australia’s food has been out of place since European settlement based on his latest book The Getting Of Garlic: Australian food from bland to brilliant.

John Newton is a freelance writer, journalist, novelist and teacher. His books include The Roots of Civilisation: Plants that changed the world, A Savage History: Whaling in the Pacific and Southern Oceans and, The Oldest Foods on Earth: The story of Australian native food, with recipes, published in 2016. John has won many awards for his writing including the Golden Ladle for Best Food Journalism in the 2005 World Food Media Awards. In 2015 he was awarded a Doctor of Creative Arts from UTS.

Charmaine O’Brien thinks, writes, researches and educates about the social and cultural history of food and eating. She has a strong interest in Australian food history, particularly challenging the historiographical convention that colonial Australians were terrible cooks who ate an “abominable’ diet by examining the impact of class, gender and immigration on representations of food and eating habits. Her most recent work on this subject include The Colonial Kitchen: Australia 1788-1901 and ‘The Devil at Work: The cook in Australian colonial literature’. Charmaine has a PhD in creative writing with a focus on the psychology of creativity. She also holds a masters of coaching psychology and coaches creative development. She is internationally recognised for her work on Indian food history and culture, which includes The Penguin Food Guide to India, the first comprehensive guide to Indian regional food,Recipes from an Urban Village and Flavours of Delhi.


Meat, maté and the rise of the Gaucho
Diana Noyce

When Christopher Columbus (1451–1506) landed in the Bahamas Archipelago in 1492, it initiated the permanent European colonisation of the New World. Widespread transfer of plants, animals, culture, human populations, technology, and ideas between the Americas and the Old World established trade routes that became known as the Columbian Exchange. European traders returned to Europe with maize, potatoes, and tomatoes, to name a few, and became very important crops in Europe by the eighteenth century. A variety of crops and livestock arrived in the Americas, particularly beef cattle and horses. These introduced species may initially have looked ‘out of place’ in the Americas but they became an integral part of the landscape and culture of the native American. The native Americans soon found the cow to be very beneficial for them. Cattle provided meat, milk, tallow, hides, and a source of labour. Horses provided transportation.

As cultures merged, so did man and beast. The Gaucho, the nomadic and colourful horseman and cowhand of the Argentine and Uruguayan Pampas (grasslands) in South America, flourished from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth century and has remained a folk hero similar to the cowboy in North America. Gauchos were usually mestizos (persons of mixed European and Indian ancestry) but sometimes were white, black, or mulatto (of mixed black and white ancestry). In the mid- eighteenth century, when British, Dutch, French, and Portuguese traders provided a profitable contraband in hides and tallow in the frontier regions around Buenos Aires, gauchos arose to hunt the large herds of escaped horses and cattle that had roamed freely, bred prodigiously, and remained safe from predators on the extensive Pampas. Later, when the Pampas had been fenced into huge estancias (estates), the gauchos were hired as skilled animal handlers. The Gauchos who were at one with their horse subsisted largely on meat and maté, an herbal tea-like drink, served in gourd and drunk through a bombilla (a metal-like straw). Today, the Argentina’s continue the traditional of eating barbequed meat (Asado) and drinking maté which may seem to onlookers as old-fashioned, unimaginative and restrictive, but no so to the Argentinian.

Diana Noyce holds a Masters degree in Gastronomy from the University of Adelaide and has been researching and teaching food history and food culture for a number of years. She lectures at various institutes as well as cruise ships on aspects of food and culture and has presented papers at several conferences both in Australia and overseas, in particular, the International Commission for Research into European Food History, the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery,and the Symposium of Australian Gastronomy. Publications comprise book chapters, various journal articles including online journals as well as newspapers.


Experiment, adapt, innovate:
Fifty years of faux foods in the 
Australian Women’s Weekly
Lauren Samuelsson
University of Wollongong

Throughout its first fifty years, the recipe pages of the Australian Women’s Weekly (the Weekly) are scattered with recipes for mock foods. Holding little cultural capital as they were often a product of scarcity, mock foods have not garnered a great deal of academic attention. While faux foods have largely disappeared from the Australian plate, their enduring presence in the most popular Australian women’s magazine of the twentieth century speaks to their past popularity.

This paper argues that the Weekly was an unfailing supporter of women’s experimentation, adaptation and innovation in the kitchen, challenging suggestions that Australian women were responsible for a food culture that was boring at best, abominable at worst. Evidence of the Weekly’s culinary encouragement is no more evident than when looking at the mock foods published in both editorial and reader- submitted recipes during these years. These foods intended to impress and imitated either the taste or appearance of the ‘real thing’. They were primarily a product of economic or seasonal scarcity, although some were designed to reduce the housewife’s culinary workload or addressed health concerns.

Whether cheap cuts of beef were being passed off as roast duck, or cakes were being iced with mock cream, these faux foods not only reveal an interesting facet of Australian eating practices but also shed light on the interaction of class and gender in the kitchen.

Lauren Samuelsson is a history PhD candidate at the University of Wollongong. Her research looks at the way that the Australian Women’s Weekly contributed to the development of Australian food culture throughout the twentieth century.


Out of Place:
Foreigners in Provence in the eighteenth-century
Barbara Santich

‘Out of place’ in a foreign environment, travellers from England, Paris, Switzerland and other countries recorded their impressions of the towns they visited, the countryside they travelled through, the people they encountered. For every fault they noted in their letters and journals – the wind, the lack of carpets, bedbugs and inhospitable innkeepers – there were compensating advantages, in particular the warm, sunny weather. They praised the fresh fruit, seafood and game, admired the fertile countryside, enjoyed the liveliness of the port city of Marseilles and envied the joie de vivre of the ordinary citizens. Balancing such criticism against the praise in these travel narratives, with their glimpses of the people and their customs and traditions, offers a means of understanding a different France and gives insights into its foods and foodways.

Barbara Santich is a highly respected food writer, culinary historian and academic, with an abiding interest in French food, cooking and eating, currently focused on eighteenth-century Provence. Her book on Australian food history, Bold Palates: Australia’s Gastronomic Heritage, was shortlisted in the non-fiction category of the 2013 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards. Her latest work is her memoir of living in France, Wild Asparagus, Wild Strawberries.


The nature of folk knowledge about the diversity of bananas in Central Uganda
Associate Professor Yasuaki Sato
Osaka Sangyo University, Japan

The subsistence economy in Central Uganda is based on a system in which each household fulfils its dietary needs using food from a home garden, of which bananas are a staple. It is also one of the multiply useful plants, and there is a wide variety of bananas in each garden. The importance of bananas has been the purview of the field of agronomy, agricultural economics, and genetic resource sciences, but the cultural signification has received little discussion. This paper examines how peoples’ cognition and memories relate to the diversity of bananas in anticipation of illuminating the creativity of human- plant relationships.

People perceive the multifaceted nature of bananas as if they “dialogue” with bananas. Interviews and cognition tests identify four categories: 1) groups equivalent to species or sub-species, 2) landraces, 3) genealogical lines, and 4) individual plants. Each of these units for distinguishing the banana plants has its own socio-cultural context. Meanwhile, the associated knowledge consists of folk-classification systems used in their daily lives and shared widely with relatives and neighbors and personal experiences that depend on individual backgrounds and shared only with their household members. This research found that people allow accumulation and ambiguity of their knowledge, and coexistence of different knowledges. Even when new experiences contradict with existing systems, they do not rewrite their knowledge, but accept overlaps between old and new understandings, as reflected in the arrangement of bananas in their gardens. Thus, the homegarden is a unique space for embracing the diversity of memories.

Yasuaki Sato is Associate Professor at Osaka Sangyo University, where he teaches the relationship of culture and biodiversity. His ethnobotanical research examines the livelihood system based on bananas in the world, especially East Africa and Papua New Guinea. He is a co-author of Cooking Banana in Africa, and the author of Life-world of Banana Cultivators in Uganda: An Ethnoscience Approach (in Japanese). His current project focuses on the dietary education in consideration of local wisdom in rural Uganda through a participatory method.


The sandwich as offering or, how to localise out-of-place ingredients and people
Jenny Smith
University of Southern Queensland

Benjamin Carle took 10 months to prepare an ‘authentic’ Provençal pan bagnat, declaring a mass-produced sandwich to be a ‘symbol of a loss of savoir faire and rampant consumerism’.  The result was a very good but very expensive pan bagnat – Carle fished for tuna, raised chickens for eggs, sowed wheat and built a vegetable garden on his Paris roof-top.  It is presented as an exercise in autonomy, yet it also represents how out-of-place ingredients can become localised, and how food thus produced can become a ritual offering.

In Tasmania, my ‘new’ farmer research participants can be thought of as being out-of-place – most were not born in Tasmania, none of them are farming land upon which they grew.  These out-of-place people are raising out-of-place plants and animals, and eating out-of-place food.  In the process, they too could be considered as regaining a certain savoir faire and reacting to rampant consumerism.

This paper will argue that as people are learning how to become farmers, they are learning how to become locals through the local food they produce and the local networks they are forming.  This paper will also explore the idea that the consolidation of these networks through rituals of togetherness and the sharing of their locally-produced foods assists in these out-of-place people and their out-of-place ingredients becoming local.

Jenny Smith is a PhD candidate at the University of Southern Queensland, living and researching in Tasmania.  Her research is focussing on people who are new to farming in Tasmania; what motivated this change in lifestyle, how they are learning to farm, how they are learning to feed themselves and their local communities. Jenny has an MA from the University of Cambridge in Archaeology and Anthropology, but most of her working life has been involved with Aboriginal cultural heritage management in Western Australia and Tasmania.


Walking through food history
André Taber

According to scholars of heritage interpretation, central to the concerns of a tour guide is ‘the significance and uniqueness of a place’. Ponsonby is an inner suburb of Auckland, New Zealand, known for its history: a dense concentration of some of the oldest houses in the country and Victorian/Edwardian-era blocks of shops, as well as its ‘colourful’ past as a working-class and immigrant area. Ponsonby is also known for food. Since the 1970s gentrification has turned it into one of the city’s top café and restaurant strips. But no-one had put the two together and acknowledged food history as part of Ponsonby’s uniqueness and significance until I started a local food history walking tour. In this paper I will describe my experience of researching and planning the heritage interpretation for the tour, and share some of the difficulties I encountered. I will examine my experiences using the six principles of interpretation defined by Freeman Tilden, the founder of heritage interpretation theory: relate, reveal, art, provoke, whole and children.

André Taber is a journalist, researcher and author whose interest is mainly in food history. He has written two books: A Buyer’s Guide to New Zealand Olive Oil and The Great New Zealand Pie Guide. He has been a regular presenter at the New Zealand Symposia for Food History and contributor to The Aristologist. In 2016 he added ‘tour guide’ to his resumé with a walking food history tour of his suburb, Ponsonby.


Gender, food, and kitchen space in Yoshinaga Fumi’s manga
Xuan-Bach (Alex) Tran

There is an old Japanese belief that men should not cook at home as the domestic kitchen belongs to women, where foods are prepared femininely and mundanely. If a man should ever cook, he must celebrate his cooking in a professional kitchen and in a manly manner. Although this gendered myth is old and probably out-of-date, its political and gendered mindset towards food and kitchen space in the Japanese culture has not faded completely just yet.

This research examines manga (Japanese comic) works of Yoshinaga Fumi, an extraordinary manga artist who is an openly feminist and a food lover in both her real life and her works. Being an experienced Boys’ Love manga artist (a genre which depicts same-sex relationships), Yoshinaga has cleverly subverted the old belief of the gendered kitchen by bringing several factors into and out of both the domestic and professional kitchens. While the exoticness has been familiarised, the mundanity is eventually celebrated. In her kitchen, masculinity is found in the most feminine food; and the legendary chef turns out to be an (also) legendary gay man. The award-winning artist has converted the kitchen space into a place for conversation between different sociocultural agencies, where conflict happens and resolves, and progress is made in a comical and entertaining way.

Alex Xuan-Bach Tran graduated from Swinburne University in 2012 and William Angliss Institute (Australia) in 2014. His background is cooking and  culinary management with roughly 4 years in business consultancy, training, and marketing. Besides, Alex is also a cookbook author, food and travel writer, and editor in Vietnam. From 2015 to 2016, he worked as South Vietnam General Manager for KAfe Group (Vietnam). He has just finished his Master of Gastronomy program at Auckland University of Technology (New Zealand) in 2018, and is planning to start his PhD in the coming year. His research focus includes Vietnamese and Japanese culture and society, popular culture,gastronomy, gender, and identity in everyday life.


Forced Fruit:
Transplanting the tropics in early modern Europe

Dr Garritt (Chip) Van Dyk

Exploration and trade introduced new and exotic comestibles to Europe in the early modern period. While spices and stimulant beverages did not suffer in transit, perishable goods from the European colonies, such as tropical fruits, did not always survive the voyage from the West Indies to Britain. Imported exotic fruits were both novel and rare, fit to be presented as gifts to kings. One fruit, however, captured the European imagination, with its spiky crown and thorny exterior: the pineapple.

The pineapple became a status symbol for elite entertainment. Those unable to purchase one, could rent one by the day, for use as a centrepiece. Displaying, or eating, pineapple as a sign of social status was soon replaced by efforts to grow the tropical fruit in Europe. Botanical collectors and royal gardeners, from the Netherlands to Russia, pioneered techniques in hothouse propagation in their quest to produce the exotic plants in Europe.

This paper explores the early modern mania for growing a tropical food in Northern Europe. Apart from the logistics of transport, why did elite consumers pursue the propagation of pineapples? Removed from the exoticism of its origins, how was it perceived as a foodstuff? How did the technology to grow pineapples develop, and what were the wider, and lasting, implications of hothouse botany?

Dr Garritt (Chip) Van Dyk is a Junior Research Fellow, Enlightenment Studies, in the Sydney Intellectual History Network. His research explores the relationship between food and identity, using economic history to examine both commercial and cultural exchange in early modern Europe. He received the Sophie Coe Prize for Food History for his research on the role of English consumers in the development of effervescent wine. Chip also brings the perspective of a practitioner to his research, as a former chef, and student of cookery and pastry at Le Cordon Bleu and Ecole Lenôtre.


Food journeys on the refugee highway

Paul van Reyk

In her speculative fiction novel Mara and Dann, Doris Lessing gives a graphic picture of food security for a group of refugees fleeing drought and an oppressive regime towards an uncertain but hoped for new country. What little individuals and families can take with them they hoard and do not share with others. At nights they have to be alert to raids on their meagre stores. When a pleasure aircraft crashes, they surge to it and grab what food they can uncaring of the injured passengers. When they pass through towns they are denied access to stores and again resort to stealing. Is this picture true to the experience of refugees who have arrived in Australia? What were their food journeys as they made their way here? What did they eat in their homelands? What did they eat in refugee camps? What changes in foodways have they had to adjust to along the way and on starting life in Australia? How important is it to maintain food practices of one’s homeland in the transition to food practices on one’s new home? These are people forced ‘out of place’ and their food journeys are rarely told.

This panel will comprise two women refugees who have established food enterprises in Sydney, an Ethiopian and an Assyrian. SAG attendees will lunch on food from the women’s food enterprises following the session.

Paul van Reyk is a food writer and food activist. Paul has published articles in Gastronomica (“Antipodean Psittacophagy, Gastronomica 5, no. 2, Spring 2005), Artlink (“Food Slut Manifesto”. Artlink 24, no. 2, 2004), Divine (“Samphire: A tale of culinary obsession”, Issue 27, September/November 2001; “Roll on Oztralia”, Issue 29, May/July 2002; “Metroagriculturalist”,Issue 39, March/May 2005; “Dirty Food”, Issue 40, August/October 2005). He has presented papers at the 11th SAG (“Conquered cuisines”), 14th SAG (“Utopias/Dystopias: Upepsia/Dyspepsia”); 15th SAG (“Valley FoodLink; A hand up not a hand out”), 16th SAG (“Jumbucks, bream, and dole bread: Australian songs about rivers and food)”; and presented a paper at Cookery Books as History, a conference by the Research Centre for the History of Food and Drink, University  of Adelaide, 2006 (“Thamboom Hodie, Lumpraya Curry and Blancmange. A chundu or two of the domestic economy of Dutch Burgher women in Sri Lanka in the early to mid 20th century through a reading of the domestic cookery book of Ada de la Harp”.) His article “The Bland or the Bountiful?: Notes on Australian dining between World Wars 1& 2” was published in Petit Propos Culinaire in 2016. Paul was on the organising group for the 13th SAG and is a member of the committee for the 22nd SAG. Paul manages compost.sydney, a website for new Australian writing on food. Paul has also published an annotated ebook facsimile copy of the Cookbook of Ada dela Harpe. Paul is currently writing a history of food in Australia for Reaktion Books.


Schooling youth and shaping diet:
What’s out of place on menu?

Associate Professor Adele Wessell
Southern Cross University

The Female Orphan School provides a useful starting point for considering changes in food items and eating practices at schools. The role of schools in shaping food choices has received increasing attention, particularly in the UK, the US and Australia, which have shared gastronomic traditions and food systems underpinned by their colonial heritage, commitments to industrialisation and capitalism and a common anxiety more recently around the health impacts that can also be related to those. While the moral imperatives around what is ‘good’ food and what is ‘bad’ (as well as the terms) have changed over time, the utility of food making and provision for social and moral purpose has long converged with the history of schooling.

The principles of contemporary Australian food values find expression in canteen guidelines, a long way from the rations provided to girls at the Orphan School. While the changes reflect knowledge about health and nutrition, they are not free of political implications and assumptions about learning, issues of equity and access. The National Health School Canteens Guidelines (2014) underpin canteen policies, guidelines and practices with a focus on students ‘making healthy food choices at school and in life’ (Victoria 2017). Its principle object is health in relation to nutrition, rather than nourishment more broadly, and assumes the school has obligations with regard to student’s food choices and, integrated into the curriculum, that people choose food based on knowledge of its nutritional qualities and experience, as if these are neutral and can be separated from pleasure or culture. This paper will consider the historical contexts and meanings of food and nutritional discourses as they are produced in Australian schools. The Research team (including Elaine Swan, Deana Leahy, Emily Gray and Sian Supski) have expertise in the fields of history, sociology, education and cultural studies of food and are working together on a range of publications and activities related to museums and learning about food.

Associate Professor Adele Wessell is a food historian based at Southern Cross University.She is the editor of Locale: Pacific Journal of Regional Food Studies and teaches Gastronomy and Communication. Her research is focussed in two areas – small scale food production and cookbooks.

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