Thursday, 3 January 2008

The Cookbooks that ate the Dining Room


We all love our books but dread the day when we have to move them. The floors are being done next week and everything has to be cleared and stashed away from the dreaded dust machine. I am not sure what's worse: floor sanding dust? or plaster dust? I think plaster has away of creeping into places that you never imagined even sawdust could enter. But there is one compensation for having to move a library and that is you can reacquaint your self with some of your best mates.
Suddenly a job that may have taken a couple of hours if it was moving furniture could easily end up a whole day especially if the weather's too hot to do anything useful in the garden. Then comes the moment when you are sure that the copy of de Croze is missing, that can eat up another hour. Time can stand still while you visit Chapelle and just have a little peek into Blue Trout and Black Truffles and then see what Ketner's has to say about, well just about anything! .
Its been a great day of rediscovery.

This group of ephemera holds a special place in the collection. In 1986, at least I think it was then [and now I can't check because the box is under a massive pile in the ladies loo] I read an article about Betty Austin, the head librarian at the Emily McPherson college who was compiling a bibliography of all Australian cookbooks prior to 1941. Over the years I have been a keen op-shop obsessive and have collected old cookbooks and had quite a stash at the time.
I went to see Ms. Austin and we quickly established a strong friendship over our mutual interest. She showed me through the library's collection and I even had a couple that she had not seen. During that time the Emily Mac library became place that I enjoyed visiting whenever a culinary question came up. [ Now you can ask the Magic Robot on the right]
Betty completed the bibliography and kindly sent me a copy that holds this whole collection together. Diane and I are still op-shop crazy but now of course its the fifties to eighties that we waste our hours on. The older bits of cooking ephemera are much harder to find. One of the small sub-sets in this collection are the wonderful but rather sad booklets given to injured returned servicemen after the First and Second World Wars to raise money.
It must have been a horrific comedown after losing your limbs in the Somme to go door to door selling little cookbooks. But they do give a very clear picture of the home cooking of the time.
The next stage of putting all the books back is also very important, after some more distractions a new order is achieved. The pile of must-read-agains grows and the cull that you know you should make somehow stays in the background. Although I must admit I love to cull a few copies bought in a moment of weakness or utter folly. What was I thinking?
Now if you have my copy of Austin de Croze please return it along with Frank Moorhouse's Loose Living. Which, if you haven't read I can heartily recommend to anyone except the person who's got my copy. Late fines apply.
And finally a small Crumb from Robert for all you Mr. Natural fans.

6 comments:

t h e - g o b b l e r said...

George, you are sitting on a goldmine, dont ever sell your collection!
My cookbook collection (though obviously meagre in comparison to your library!) is one of my most treasured things & I'm always on the scout at op shops for obscure titles-I still haven't got the elusive 'Summer' cookbook from Bernard King, having snapped the other three seasons books years ago.
The search continues!

PS Thanks for the link to my site.

Sunnybrae and all who sail in her said...

Thanks Mr G
If you can get your hands on Frank Moorhouse's Loose Living do so. Not that rare and not exy. Its right at the top of my favourites list and has to be read at least once a year. The de Croze has still got me worried it came from Jill Norman from E David's collection. Still losing sleep over that one. Will let you know if I see Bernard in my travels. Link my pleasure, the writing is excellent.

bukowskireincarnate said...

but do you have "love and knishes"?

Sunnybrae and all who sail in her said...

Not yet

PS Lost your last comment on Mr Grumpy. We all know that he and Ms Barista have already changed the face of your community. Better a pussy than a real G O Man. But don't tell him
73 cents worth of mixed lollies please?

richard. said...

hello george any advice on how to get the word out about a book that i have comming out in four weeks?
r

Sunnybrae and all who sail in her said...

Richard? which Richard?
Any publisher worth his retainer will have all the bases covered but please send details of your book and we will give it good look here on the blog. In the first instance send review copies to all the Magazines and Newspapers and then ring me later.

Best of luck with it.