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Past Perfect

Edition 83

The past, famously, is a foreign country – but in the twenty-first century, it’s one in which we increasingly seek solace. What fuels this love affair with recycling our history? What periods do we choose to romanticise, and how do our rose-tinted glasses occlude reality? Is all this nostalgia signifying – as the late Mark Fisher opined – the disappearance of the future? 

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Eat your words

Whet your appetite for great writing with this enticing buffet of food-themed fiction, memoir, reportage, conversations and more. 

Consuming content

‘Do food bloggers realize how awful their recipe pages are?’ a Reddit user innocently enquires in a thread I stumble across while googling food blogs bad. ‘Do they take reader satisfaction into account?’ According to more than 600 replies, the answer is largely no.

Lunch bars

From cream buns and vanilla slices to cheese-filled sausages and salad sandwiches, working-class culinary culture would not be the same without the lunch bar. Typically tucked away in a corner of the city’s suburban, industrial and commercial districts, lunch bars have sustained the work force with an array of no-frills fast food since the 1950s.

The fight for the white stuff

Although non-dairy milks are hardly unique to the US, there seemed something distinctly ‘American’ about the consumerist techno-utopianism of engineered nutrition. In its seductive promises and dazzling abundance, in its massification and drive for profit, and its bold-yet-arrogant ambition, the world of plant milks became a metonym for everything I loved and loathed about US culture. Give me a carton of Blue Diamond Almond Breeze and you have given me America.

Confected outrage

Many of us can name our favourite childhood lollies. But what if a lolly’s name, or the name of another popular food item, is out of date? What if it’s racist, harmful or wrong? What happens when the name of a lolly doesn’t work anymore?

A serving of home

I think we should be proud of where we come from and be proud of what this country can offer us. We’re unique in our food culture here – we should be embracing it, and we should ask for native produce.

Big Blueberry

Today blueberries are grown across the globe. In Australia, blueberry production tripled in the five years to 2021, and the fruit is grown almost year-round – a perpetual river of fructose and antioxidants shipped across the country…

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Being David Cohen

Recently, I typed ‘David Cohen’ into Google Books, just for the modest thrill of seeing my name appear. The thrill quickly gave way to dismay when I saw how many other writers there are named David Cohen: dozens of the bastards.

To speak or not to speak

What does silence say about our views, the way we use our platforms, our moral capacities, our ethics, our willingness to be silenced or the (always unstated) pecuniary and reputational purposes for which many use public social media profiles? It’s also helpful to consider the implications of silence.

Mix ’n’ mash 

There’s a huge amount of luck and discovery involved with the collage technique where – if it’s not reaching the randomness of aleatory music – it’s pretty darn close to genuine randomness and dumb luck.

A less artificial future 

Humans have been making automatons since the time of the Ancient Greeks. Disruption due to technology is nothing new. We need to think critically about this fourth industrial revolution, remembering the lessons of the past. The rapid scientific discoveries, exponential technological advances and widescale job losses have all been seen before.

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