A Matter of Taste
- Published 1st November, 2022
- ISBN: 978-1-922212-74-0
- Extent: 264pp
- Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook
Food is more than a matter of taste. From the comfort of the kitchen to the theatre of the restaurant, the glamour of the TV studio to the gloss of the cookbook page, the ways we frame and consume stories about food shape our cultural histories as much as our personal identities.
Edited by Carody Culver, Griffith Review 78 serves up a smorgasbord of essays, fiction and reportage about what we eat and how we talk about it. It explores food as spectacle and status symbol, as fad and fantasy, as capital and cultural currency. If we are what we eat, then who are we in the twenty-first century?
Taking in table manners, fast and slow food, the dilemma of diets and the ethics of production, from sautéed and sous vide to nothing but raw, Griffith Review 78 is polishing up the cutlery and preparing to put it all on a plate.
Listen to Editor Carody Culver being interviewed on the Books, Books, Books podcast.
In this Edition
Recipe for success
Fans used to approach my grandmother, Margaret, at events or book signings, professing their adoration and proudly presenting their 1969 yellow-bound original of The Margaret Fulton Cookbook. They’d tell stories about the book’s place in their hearts – it had been given to them when they moved out of home, or when they’d married, or it had been passed through two generations. Margaret would smile sweetly and flick through the pages as though looking for something. Then, often, she would close the book firmly and look mock-crossly up at them (I say ‘up’ because she was usually seated, but was also only just over five-foot-tall). ‘You’ve never cooked from this book. Where are the splatters, the markings of the kitchen, the stuck-together pages?’
The principal reason Ju/’hoansi didn’t seek to accumulate wealth or surpluses was because they were confident first in the inherent providence of their environment and second in their ability to exploit it – so they were content to focus their energies on meeting only their immediate material needs rather than on creating or controlling surpluses.
Anthropologist Solomon Katz proposed in the 1980s the intriguing ‘beer before bread’ theory, which suggested that early agriculturalists were driven to farming not by their wholesome desire for crusty loaves but by their lust for that other staple grain product: beer.
From the twelfth century in Western Europe, the apple, scientific name malus, became the forerunner for the unidentified forbidden fruit from the Garden of Eden, probably because its symbolism was already well established in Norse and Greek mythology, and the wordplay was irresistible: malus derives from the Latin word malum, which meant both evil or wrongdoing and fruit plucked from a tree.
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.
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?
Having and not having the cake
Everyone involved in Bake Off is always lovely; and that everyone involved is always lovely to each other I know my girlfriend credits with having helped her through the hardest months of her life, so I guess I owe it that as well.
I find I cannot cry on the day of the funeral or for many nights after the news of Ellen’s death and it is as if I am stunned by this loss, as if I am too close to this absence for it to mean anything yet, until two weeks later when I take the handle of the mould in my hands and lay the flat back of it against my cheek, and I cry and I cry.
Finding the fundamentals of culture
Valuing a job that creates something tangible is probably why, on leaving school, I opted to become a chef; I liked the idea of making food, and hopefully making people happy. It’s probably why I farm, because doing something physical, to produce something you can actually touch, is wired into me.
THE RUIN OF the new mother is the raspberry. I give Yasmin, her eight-month-old, the bursting prize of the red berry. I know what I am doing. Yasmin’s smooth, brand-name knit has never been stained, until today. I jerk the chain on my own passive-aggressive sabotage, but it’s...
Heat and hope and attention
Rules that were once rooted in religion have settled into our insides as secular, self-imposed rules about ‘good’ food and ‘bad’ food and, by extension, ‘good’ bodies and ‘bad’ bodies.
Eat me in the city
The idea of having my body lovingly prepared and cooked as a feast for friends seems like a particularly beautiful death to me, and one that needs careful planning and consideration.
Body of work
The ’50s were a time of tremendous optimism and energy, yet they also had a dark underbelly. It was a time when women’s roles were diminished – they were often expected to stay home and be housewives. In the US, African Americans were living under segregation, particularly in the south, which caused significant racial tension. There will always be negative and dark aspects whenever human nature is involved. My paintings straddle a fine line between humour and horror.
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.
Using identical, machine-made food items accentuates the traces of consumption. In works where participation is open to the audience as co-creators, I have found there’s not just one way to consume…
We were accidental arrivals, I think is the best way to put it. My parents were refugees from Poland. They were Jewish citizens of Poland and they basically flipped a coin and made a run for it.
Lunch at the dream house
There were columns. It was white. Palatial. ‘Just smile and nod,’ Paul said, as he drove towards the fountain where a replica of Michelangelo’s Bacchus stood in all his glory.
The long supper
Nadia herself was unremarkable. She spoke little and staked little claim. She ate in moderation (always in private). She exercised moderately (always indoors). Books were the exception; those, she binged.
The party for Crabs
As she lists the night’s specials, Claire attempts to figure out the party’s dynamic. Shared complexions make the elegant woman the little girl’s mother, surely. It’s the women’s relationship she can’t figure out. University friends? Distant cousins? Their conversation seems too polite for either. Unnatural.
We don’t stock Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook. I know this because Amanda thinks Gwyneth Paltrow is goofy, despite Amanda and Gwyneth Paltrow being the same person. Our customers are Gwyneth Paltrow’s target demographic. If Gwyneth Paltrow wrote a novel our book club would literally devour it.
I found Archie by the shallow end wearing a short terry-towelling robe open to the waist. Time and tide had left him shipwrecked and bloated, but you could still recognise him from the pictures on his album covers: same dark pouf and ducktail and duotone tan, only now he got his colour from a bottle and his hair from a can. He’d been drinking gin and tonic since happy hour started, brought out by an over-attentive waitress.
where Sacrificer and Sacrificee, still fragrant with
the Blood of Morning and Harvest, gather by twisted Beak and crooked Hand
Flowers and fruit
This arrangement like any other,
each the simulacrum of before.
the sky keeps
no secret but
A recipe for Rote Grütze
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