In the 1970s (1975 to be exact) my mother and a friend, a very talented cook, published a cookbook for the National Trust. It was called Cork Fork and Ladle.
This cookbook was unusual for its time because it included recipes from many different people ranging from accomplished home cooks to restauranteurs. Some categories are hilarious - for example Bachelor Fare which include recipes from the famous Melbourne florist Kevin O'Neill. There are also categories for country wives, 'people from Sydney', creative people and so on.
It also had photos of some lovely objects which contributors collected (porcelain, glass bottles and so on) and most interestingly, their dining rooms.
It is a very special book to me because it includes a photo of the dining room from my now demolished childhood home. You can see this dining room includes a number of classic 1970s design features - slate floor tiles, indoor plants, clashing dinnerware. Apologies for the woeful scanned picture. The wall paper is in fact orange Thai silk.
My mother still has that oak table and the chairs and the dresser in the background (spoils of divorce). We have had many happy meals around it and it has that patina which only 300 year old wood has.
I have looked for this book on and off over the years, in antiquarian bookshops and on E-bay to no avail, Recently however I was killing time in Gertrude Street Fitzroy and visited the fabulous store Books for Cooks and naturally, there it was, in hard and softback versions.
The recipes range from hilarious to inspiring. It is a real window into the past. Some are a bit dated, but others are classic and can still be made with pride such as the foolproof recipe for zucchini fritters.
The one I always laugh at (but not in front of my mother as she takes offence) is the recipe for a Race Week lobster dish. Ingredients: lobster chunks, tin of pineapple, jar of mayonnaise. Method: mix together and serve.
I have often thought how successful a successor to this book would be - a naughties version where chefs, local cooks and caterers, celebrities, creatives and other interesting people could share their recipes and more interestingly perhaps, photos of their kitchens and dining areas.
How could that not be a cracking success what with the current interest (obsession) in how people live and what their home spaces look like? You read it here first.