Monday, June 29, 2015

Walkabout Chefs: A fresh look at aboriginal bush food by Steve Sunk and David Hancock.

WalkaboutChefs: A fresh look at aboriginal bush food by Steve Sunk and DavidHancock. Hardcover book with pictorial boards (no dust jacket) published by Skyscans 2006, 168 pages with colour photographs.

From the mangroves and beaches of Arnhem Land to the arid lands around Alice Springs, Steve Sunk has taught cookery in many Aboriginal communities. In Walkabout Chefs, Steve and photojournalist David Hancock have collaborated with Aboriginal cooks to produce a volume of truly unique Australian cuisine with ingredients that have been used for thousands of years. This is not just a book about cooking, but an insight into Australian Aboriginal culture through food, country and humour.”  

When I recently espied this book sitting half hidden on a shelf, I somehow knew it was something special... and that was before I starting flicking through the pages. The title was enough to get me to pick it up and then there's the photo on the cover showing chefs with Kangaroos (dead) and lots of children (alive) which are good indicators that there is something of interest going on between these covers. And when I stumbled upon the Dugong Steaks with Bush Fruits recipe whilst perusing the pages, my suspicions were confirmed. This book is truly out of the ordinary.


So where am I going to get some Dugong? It's not something that I have ever seen at Aldi... maybe I should out check the freezer section, they've got all sorts of stuff in there.* Sure, the Dugong recipe does offer alternatives (pork or chicken... both available at Aldi) as does the Sea Turtle Panfried in Wild Pepper Berry (fillet steak or chicken), but you know what, if you're going to cook something like Dugong of Turtle, you probably want Dugong or Turtle in the dish. So maybe I need to NOT cook these dishes from this book (… i just heard a Dugong and Turtle massive sigh of relief). Wallaby is a better option and there are quite a few around here (Clunes)... or rather there were up until I wrote about wanting to eat them.

This is a beautiful book which is not just a cookbook but is about “Australian Aboriginal culture through food, country and humour” with an emphasis on Gourmet tastes and experiences. I don't know if I would eat Dugong or Turtle**, but there are heaps of other things in this book that I would certainly like to have a taste of. Overall though, I think this book is more about ideas and experiences rather than filling bellies. Bon apetit.

In Australia, dugongs are protected under the Australian Government's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 (EPBC Act), which lists them as marine and migratory species, and various State and Northern Territory legislation.
Dugongs are an integral part of the traditional culture of many coastal indigenous peoples throughout the world. Dugongs may be legally hunted by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people under section 211 of the Native Title Act 1993 for personal, domestic or non commercial communal needs.
**... I probably would... as long as it was legal.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Candle 79 Cookbook: Modern Vegan Classics from New York's Premier Sustainable Restaurant by Joy Pierson

Candle 79 Cookbook: Modern Vegan Classics from New York's Premier Sustainable Restaurant by Joy Pierson. Hardcover book published by Ten Speed Press 2011, 193 pages with colour photographs.

“Continually rated as one of the best vegan restaurants in the country*, Candle 79 is at the forefront of a movement to bring elegance and sophistication to vegetarian cuisine. Not only is its fare local, seasonal, organic, and sustainable, but also so flavorful and satisfying that customers—vegan and omnivore alike—are constantly asking for recipes to cook at home. This collection answers that call, with simple yet impressive recipes for Chickpea Crepes, Ginger-Seitan Dumplings, Live Lasagna, Chocolate Mousse Towers, Cucumber-Basil Martinis, and more. Expanding the horizons of vegan fare with appetizers, soups, salads, mains, brunches, desserts, cocktails, and wine pairings, Candle 79 Cookbook invites every home cook to make truly green cuisine.”

I'm not thinking of taking the Vegan plunge. Nope, not for me. I did once commit to becoming a vegetarian... and lasted about 3 days (it might have been less)... I think it was bacon that turned me back so quickly. I am happy to admit that some of my favourite foods are vegetarian and even Vegan food does appeal to this omnivore. Looking at the list of recipes above who can't be impressed with the words Ginger-Seitan Dumplings and flicking through the book there are many tempting things that this hungry bookseller is tempted by, even if there isn't a skerrick of any long suffering dead animal in any of it.

Over the years I have encountered many distraught chefs/cooks concerned with what they are going to serve their Vegan friends or family. My mother was one of them. I remember one year it was about October when she told me she was having trouble sleeping because she didn't know what to cook for one of her grand children, a recent convert, at Christmas. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of Vegan fair in traditional German christmas dinners, hence her concern. Rather strangely i've heard of other families of all shapes and ethnicities, having the same problem with Vegetarians and Vegans. One guy I knew told me he ate from the one quiche (vegetarian not vegan) for over a week one christmas whilst visiting his parents in country New South Wales. Personally, I think a Vegan christmas cookbook could be a best seller as, from my experience, this is when non vegans need these recipes the most.

I know more than a few Vegans that I am happy to sit down and break bread with... and I think with a cookbook like this one ethically hovering around their kitchens, I could be tempted to break the vegan loaf a little more often.

*United States

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Association of Australasian Paleontologists.

Association of Australasian Paleontologists.

So who are these guys?

Try this for an answer:

Yep, they are “a specialist group of the Geological Society of Australia for palaeontologists”, which all sounds very academic... which is because it is all very academic.

 A selection.  See below for full list.

 I recently stumbled on a pile of their publications. Very technical “stuff” with lots of pictures and text that makes me weary just thinking about it. It's the sort of thing that a layman like myself could not even begin to imagine anyone reading for pleasure... but i'm sure there are those out there who love this stuff and dream of sitting down with a nice wine, some great music on the stereo and a copy of “Lower Devonian Pelecypoda from southeastern Australia” in their hands.

These all obviously came from the one collection as I did find them in the one spot patiently waiting to be unearthed by moi. And unearth them I did with only a small amount of hesitation based upon my own lack of understanding and complete ignorance on the finer points of Paleontology. Upon getting back to Huc & Gabet headquarters I quickly discovered that these publications are not that common. Even the association doesn't have these listed on their website, which I can only assume is because they don't have any copies for sale... or they are a bit slack in putting the info on their website. Either way, if you look around the interwebs you'll see that these books are not that common. This can only be a good thing for a bookseller like myself... and for those wanting a glass of wine, some good music and a copy of “Late Proterozoic and Cambrian microfossils and biostratigraphy, Amadeus Basin, central Australia”.

Here is the full list of what I currently have listed:

Late Proterozoic and Cambrian microfossils and biostratigraphy, Amadeus Basin, central Australia by Zang, Wenlong and Malcolm R. Walter.

Studies in Australian Mesozoic Palynology, edited by P. A. Jell.

Permian Productidina and Strophalosiidina from the Sydney-Bowen Basin and New England Orogen: systematics and biostratigraphic significance by D.J.C. Briggs (Memoir 19 of the Association of Australasian Paleontologists).

Palaeobiogeography of Australasian faunas and floras, edited by A. J. Wright, G. C.Young, J. A. Talent and J. R. Laurie. (Memoir 23 of the Association of Australasian Paleontologists)

Studies in Australian Mesozoic Palynology II, edited by J. R. Laurie and C. B. Foster. (Memoir 24 of the Association of Australasian Paleontologists)

Australian Ordovician brachiopod studies, edited by P. A. Jell.

APC94: Papers from the First Australian Palaeontological Convention, held at Macquarie University, February 1994, edited by P.A. Jell.

Early Cretaceous (Neocomian) flora and fauna of the Lower Strzelecki Group, Gippsland Basin, Victoria by S. McLoughlin, A.-M. P. Tosolini, N. S. Nagalingum and A. N. Drinnan. (Memoir 26 of the Association of Australasian Paleontologists)

Early Cambrian fossils from South Australia by Stefan Bengtson, Simon Conway Morris, Barry J. Cooper, Peter A. Jell and Bruce N. Runnegar.

Lower Devonian Pelecypoda from southeastern Australia by Paul A. Johnston.

Palynological and palaeobotanical studies in honour of Basil E. Balme, edited by P. A. Jell and G. Playford.

Lower Devonian bivalves from the Reefton Group, New Zealand by Margaret A. Bradshaw. (Memoir 20 of the Association of Australasian Paleontologists)

Fossil Cnidaria 5: Proceedings of the Fifth International Symposium on Fossil Cnidaria, including Archaeocyatha and Spongiomorphs held in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 25-29 July 1988 edited by P. A. Jell and J. W. Pickett.

Dorothy Hill Jubilee Memoir: Proceedings of a meeting organised by the Association of Australasian Palaeontologists, a Specialist Group of the Geological Society of Australia Inc., at The University of Queensland, 9th and 10th September, 1982 edited by J. Roberts and P.A. Jell.

Devonian and Carboniferous Coral Studies,edited by P. A. Jell.

Archaeocyatha from lower parts of the lower Cambrian carbonate sequence in South Australia by David I. Gravestock. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Playtime in Pussyland by Louis Wain,verses by Norman Gale (Father Tuck's “Wonderland” Series).

Playtime in Pussyland by Louis Wain,verses by Norman Gale (Father Tuck's“Wonderland” Series). Paperback book/booklet published by Raphael Tuck & Sons Ltd (no date, early 20th century), unpaginated with monotone and colour illustrations. (Cover describes the book as “Untearable”. The pages are made of paper and cotton stuck together. One of the pages has started to pull apart (see photo).). (The book measures 27cm across and 21.5cm down and is a few milimetres thick.  There are 14 pages with page one being on the inside front cover and page 14 on the inside back cover.)  

This is one of those books where I really had no idea... I mean REALLY no idea. Sure, one can be aware of Louis Wain and aware of his collectability and then you come across something like “Playtime in Pussyland”... which is such a great title, but a title that is sadly missing from many bibliographies... which I guess is probably because it is so incredibly rare.

Louis had a penchant for drawing cats. Yep, he drew a lot of large eyed anthropomorphised pussycats over his long life (1860 – 1939). You could even say he had an obsession with drawing cats... at least that's what many people thought and still think about Louis's legacy. Part of the overall mystique surrounding Louis is that he was eventually locked up for mental health reasons which were probably somehow associated with cats. He did manage to continue drawing despite personal setbacks and in later years started producing some distinctly psychedelic pictures of... you guessed it, cats. There's a lot of discussion on the interwebs about whether he was crazy or just obsessed and there's even one theory that he became schizophrenic due to a parasite in cat poo!!! ?*

A later cat picture by Louis Wain (not in this book)

This book is in worn condition. It is a kids book and was obviously played with, pondered and amazed over by many children over its lifetime. To avoid damage the publishers Raphael Tuck & Sons Ltd decided to make the book “untearbable” which suprisingly it has managed to do over it's life. I find the damage that is present quite interesting and the photos below demonstrate some of the long term wear and age that the book has undergone.

The photo with what looks like a rip is actually the paper splitting over the top of the “untearable” backing which in a few spots has come apart demonstrating why the book is untearable.

This copy of Playtime in Pussyland is the only copy I can find currently for sale on the internet. It is seriously rare and something that I am proud to be able to offer to buyers. Whether it sells or not, is another thing. What I particularly like is that I have learnt something new... even if it does involve cat poo.