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! .
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.