Monday, December 14, 2009

Cork Fork and Ladle - a 1970s dining room from my childhood

Continuing on the dining room theme from Friday, I have been thinking about why I have a little thing for dining rooms. I think it is connected with my childhood (isn't that the way with most things?).

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.


My Passport to Style said...

Hi there, you write with such passion in such a intersting way love the images! Sharon xx

Millie said...

I'd buy a copy Jane - so get cracking girl! Love that dear old Kevin O'N. was listed as a batchelor, bless him!! My darling Mum made a particularly gourmet version of mayonnaise in the 70's. First open a tin of condensed milk.....yum!
Millie ^_^

Julie@beingRUBY said...

HI Jane
Boy you've struck a chord there. I was just telling Mise I have no memory left, yet this book sound very familiar. My mother had a cookbook very similar [if not the same]. The Bachelor section is what triggered the memory, not your usual cookbook section from the 70's.

I'd say Millie is right.. go ahead and give us the sequel!! Just leave out the pineapple chunks!

Have a great week xx Julie

debra@dustjacket said...

Oh wow, flashback, love the picture of your dining room.

Good on your mum for doing this cookbook, fantastic.

I think it'd be interesting to do another version, I love having a peek in people's kitchens and dining rooms.

Dumbwit Tellher said...

Jane what a perfect dining room in your childhood home. I am always saying how I love our dining room in our current home. My family likely thinks I'm nuts.I think it's such a special room in the house. Ours is large & when we move back to San Diego, it will be half that size D :
Your mothers cookbook sounds spectacular. I adore the title. I loved your idea too. Hope your weekend was grand?! xx

Amanda (Small Acorns) said...

How fabulous that you were able to pick up a copy of what is obviously special to you for so many reasons. An updated version would be great Jane - so what are you waiting for!!!!

Jacqueline @ HOME said...

What a fabulous cookbook and, I love the photograph on the front cover. I'm one of those shallow people who are tempted in by the front cover !!!!
The lobster recipe is hilarious.... can you call that a recipe ?!! That was typical of the times. Was it your mum that gave you your interest in food ?
Get going on the sequel, Jane. XXXX

Mise said...

What a treasure, especially for featuring your childhood dining-room. Yes, I'd be much more interested in a cookery book as a window on society than as a collection of recipes alone. Class issues, culture, the morals and whims of an age, they all come through in its cookery books. Would you consider writing the Busy Blogger Food Book, amply illustrated and commented?

Laura said...

Yes, I agree that you should carry on the family cookbook writing tradition! I would most certainly buy a copy. Your childhood dining room looks wonderful, and I only wish I could have seen the thai silk in person!

Monika said...

I am sure that it would be a huge success!! The dining room is wonderful, I think this look is still fashionable today.

James XVI said...

What great memories and great luck finding the book again! You have me thinking about childhood dining experiences and now I'm hoping I can find a photo of my own. Thanks for sharing this, and please do get started on the sequel.

Slices of Beauty... said...

Lovely, yeah get cracking on an updated version, love it!

cj said...

love this post and what a thrill of recognition to see Kevin O'Neill, the florist, name. When I had my first child (in Melbourne) I remember all the beautiful flowers that arrived from his florist shop. I still have the cards! Thanks for the memories

Anonymous said...

Hi Thanks for sharing this - I also recall this book as it was sent over from Australia to my Mum in NZ. All of the recipes good - it particular the salmon mousse....:)

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