Many of us in Sutherland Shire grew up with a copy of the Country Women’s Association Cookbook in the house. If your mother was adventurous, she might have a copy of the Golden Circle Tropical Recipe Book. Apart from these two publications, recipes were handed down from mother to daughter, swapped over the fence with neighbours or cut out from newspapers and magazines. Most housewives of the period cooked like their mothers had: the Sunday roast, chops, chips and beans with vegetables boiled to near extinction, and curried sausages or meat loaf to vary our diets.
The cookbooks that changed us
The Margaret Fulton Cookbook was first published in 1968. Packed with easy-to-follow recipes from all over the world, this book changed the landscape of Australian cooking. The excitement of ‘piquant’ sauces, Malaysian Beef Satay or Veal Scallopine alla Marsala nearly blew the collective mind of Australian cooks. Margaret Fulton’s epic work was followed in 1970 by the Woman’s Day Cookbook by Margaret Fulton and The Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbook.
While our mothers might not have embraced the change, the newly married took up the challenge of providing (almost) restaurant-quality food at home.
Eating out in the 1960s and ‘70s
Hark back to the restaurant scene in most of Australia in the 1960s. The Chinese restaurant was (and still is) ubiquitous in just about every town and city. Many Greek and Italian post-war immigrants and economic refugees opened restaurants but while Italians stuck to their national cuisine, Greeks rarely offered Greek food solely outside Sydney and Melbourne. Instead, they tended to serve seafood (as many Greeks arrived from islands where fishing was the primary industry) or ‘Continental’ food, which covered everything from Hungarian Goulash to Wiener Schnitzel or Chicken Kiev with Lobster Mornay or Thermidor for special occasions. In ethnic clubs, you might find a Polish or German restaurant but mostly, dining out meant Chinese, Italian or the Continental cuisine favoured by so many.
With new waves of immigration came new foods and flavours, and our willingness to embrace new cuisines. The first Lebanese restaurant opened in Sydney in 1967. From the early 1970s, we learned to love Vietnamese, Thai and Indian, then Korean, Mexican, Japanese and many others. Although ‘meat and three veg’ is still high on our preferred foods list, Asian stir fry and Italian is up there.
Remember Ben Ean Moselle?
It was our Italian and German immigrants who popularised wine drinking over our beer-swilling culture. Until the late 1960s, though, it was mainly professional men and connoisseurs who propped up our wine industry. Ben Ean, a new lighter wine style, targeted women and a new wine-drinking generation emerged. As tastes matured, wine drinkers sought finer styles without the cloying sweetness of Ben Ean and Lindeman’s stopped producing this wine in 1983.
1970s food and wine
Despite (or because of) influences from our migrants, the 1970s will be forever remembered by Anglo Australians for the following:
- Avocado vinaigrette
- Prawn cocktail
- Vol au vents
- Lobster Mornay
- Oysters Kilpatrick
- Chicken à la King
- Chicken in a basket
- Chicken Maryland
- Chicken Cacciatore
- Pineapple with everything from tuna casserole to pizza
- The smorgasbord
- Veal Marsala
- Veal Cordon Bleu
- Quiche Lorraine
- Beef Wellington
- Steak Diane
- Apricot chicken casserole (more French Onion soup mix)
- Pumpkin scones (Hello, Flo)
- French Onion dip and Jatz
- Black Forest gateau
- Lemon crepes
- Sunny Boys
- Choo Choo bars
- Red Tulip After-Dinner Mints
- Ben Ean Moselle
- Blue Nun or Black Tower Liebfraumilch
- Mateus Rosé
The real winner is spaghetti bolognaise, which has (in my opinion) become Australia’s de facto national dish. Head to any food court during the lunch hour in any town centre and see who’s lining up for ‘spag bol’. You might be surprised.
Can we help with advice on downsizing?
Having navigated the home sale and downsizing process not only for our real estate clients but also for members of our own family, it’s an area in which we’ve amassed a wealth of knowledge. So don’t hesitate to seek out our help – no obligations.