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Me and My Big Mouth: Living through Australia's food revolution by [O'Connell, Jan]
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Me and My Big Mouth: Living through Australia's food revolution Kindle Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Length: 278 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled Language: English

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Product Description

Me and My Big Mouth is a personal account of how Australian food has changed in the baby-boomers’ lifetime. It’s the story of a generation that can remember life before pizza – a generation that has seen the demise of the local grocer and, decades later, the resurrection of the small local deli.
As well as taking a nostalgic look at growing up in the 1950s and 60s, this memoir gives the reader an insider’s view of the “Mad Men” era of Australian advertising. It embarks on various culinary journeys: on the ‘hippy-trail from Kathmandu to London, in the old cities of Europe and around Australia’s perimeter, and finally comes to rest in country New South Wales. Accompanied by generous helpings of tasty trivia, it’s a story of technology, social upheaval and coming-of-age.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 801 KB
  • Print Length: 278 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Thinktag Books (17 August 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Australia Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00MU0NVKE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #106,808 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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I confess I have not read the whole of this book. But the sampler of pages of the Kindle edition is more than enough to justify my FIVE STAR rating. Try “Look Inside”, and see for yourself!! (The “Look Inside” pages are fine, and the chapter outline makes it clear exactly where and how this book is going!)
In passing, let me say that the American reviewer at Amazon (USA), understandably, just doesn’t get it. (I am writing in late December 2015 – other reviews from the USA and elsewhere may follow …)
This American reviewer, with the best of intentions, comments: “there was a moment at the end when [Jan O’Connell] goes to New York and can’t find anything good to eat and I found myself shouting at my Kindle ‘what the hell is wrong is you?!?!’”
I am sure that New York serves GREAT food, if you know where to look, and what to ask for. But an Australian travelling for the first time to New York, and hoping to find good food easily, might well be puzzled and disappointed, as Jan O’Connell tells us she was – and as the Amazon (USA) reviewer screamed about. (My wife travelled to New York in 1971 and had the same disappointing experience – an Aussie in New York who couldn’t find Aussie-sensible food in simple take-away – “to go” – street stalls and cafés . No dim sims. No chicko rolls.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A marvellously nostalgic exploration of how Australians lived after World War Ii and how they evolved 20 December 2015
By John Gough - Published on Amazon.com
I confess I have not read the whole of this book. But the sampler of pages of the Kindle edition is more than enough to justify my FIVE STAR rating. Try “Look Inside”, and see for yourself!! (The “Look Inside” pages are fine, and the chapter outline makes it clear exactly where and how this book is going!)
In passing, let me say that the American reviewer at Amazon (USA), understandably, just doesn’t get it. (I am writing in late December 2015 – other reviews from the USA and elsewhere may follow …)
This American reviewer, with the best of intentions, comments: “there was a moment at the end when [Jan O’Connell] goes to New York and can’t find anything good to eat and I found myself shouting at my Kindle ‘what the hell is wrong is you?!?!’”
I am sure that New York serves GREAT food, if you know where to look, and what to ask for. But an Australian travelling for the first time to New York, and hoping to find good food easily, might well be puzzled and disappointed, as Jan O’Connell tells us she was – and as the Amazon (USA) reviewer screamed about. (My wife travelled to New York in 1971 and had the same disappointing experience – an Aussie in New York who couldn’t find Aussie-sensible food in simple take-away – “to go” – street stalls and cafés . No dim sims. No chicko rolls. No Four’n’Twenty meat pies, …)
I suspect that you have to have grown up with street vendor American hot dogs, or chilli, or pretzels, other classic North American street foods, to acquire a taste for fluffy white buns, rather bland imitation German so-called frankfurts, Americanised sauerkraut, greasy over-spiced pseudo-Mexican beef-mince (ground beef, or hash) slops, …
But isn’t that what Anne Tyler’s classic novel, and fine film, The Accidental Tourist, is all about – going somewhere foreign and NOT finding your own comforting home-style food, and wanting a guidebook that tells you where your homesick appetites can be satisfied? As if you had never left home? Travelling was an “accident”?!
But I digress.
Like Jan O’Connell, I am a baby-boomer (born early in 1949), and I grew up in Melbourne. Like her, my family (luckily) had one of the early TV sets shortly after the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.
Like her, I relished Chocolate Royale biscuits, and White Knight peppermint toffee bars, and Hoadley’s Violet Crumble chocolate-coated honeycomb bars, and brown paper bags crammed with “broken biscuits”, …
Like her I relished Cornish pasties, and other home-made dishes that now cry out to be reinvented by Master Chef, or an equivalent.
Like her I was delighted, amazed, and eventually filled beyond capacity at home-style birthday parties with miniature (cocktail) frankfurts (irreverently referred to later, when I was an adult, by a naughty comedian, as “little boys”), with crimson tomato sauce, and “fairy bread” (white sliced bread, buttered and sprinkled with hundreds and thousands – known elsewhere as sprinkles, jimmies, non pareils, haagel or hagl), …
Like her, I was sometimes given the treat of being allowed to scrape out the mixing bowl when my mother was making a cake or pudding. Victoria sponge cake, Christmas pudding, Christmas cake, date loaf, apple and cinnamon cake, tea cake, … And the other bowl used to mix up the icing (which Americans insist on calling “frosting”).
I could go on. This book is a GLORIOUSLY SUSTAINED WALLOWING in childhood NOSTALGIA. Food – as Marcel Proust made clear with his fragrant mouthful of lime tisane-infused madeleine – IS nostalgic! Transcendentally!
But this book is more. Much more!
O’Connell tells us about her extended family, her friends, and her later life.
Centrally, O’Connell also explores the way Australian foods, and culture generally, expanded and flourished with the rise of multi-culturalism – at the time we called it “European migrants” and the first high-pressure steam-powered expresso coffee machines, and the move from chicken chop suey, and pork sweet and sour, bought at the local Chinese café, and brought home in the family’s aluminium billy (a camping boiler with lid and wire handle) or saucepan and lid from the family kitchen, filled at the café, and the FIRST pizza, and the FIRST Thai restaurant, and …
I could go on. This glorious book is a rich, rewarding reflection on how, and when, and sometimes why Australia changed to become the modern international melting-pot it now is.
Needless to say, this change has NOT been without a cost! O’Connell knows this very well.
We have lost, forever, the old-fashioned grocer’s shop – like her grandfather’s and her Nancarrow school-friend’s family’s with a long wooden counter-top, and behind that the high shelves of bulk biscuits in large tins, and the bins of bulk flour, and the large bars of Sunlight soap wrapped in greaseproof paper, and …
We have lost the thruppeny (three penny’s worth) bags of broken biscuits that sometimes had CREAM biscuits, or CHOCOLATE biscuits – remnants from the large bulk tins.
(My father brought home bags of broken “Continental” biscuits from the so-called Continental grocers of the Queen Victoria Market where he did the family shopping every Friday, and brought bag a greasy brown paper bag of Continental jam-filled ball-doughnuts to be reheated and relished on Saturday mornings, …)
We have lost the ability, in a good Milk Bar, to spend six pence (roughly equivalent to 5 cents, in the mid-1960s when pennies changed to cents, and maybe now worth as much as 50 cents or more – one dollar?tTwo dollars? in 2015 money) and get, for example, 6 vivid green jelly mint leaves, and 10 long-lasting off-white aniseed balls, and a packet of Whizz Fizz sherbet with a tiny plastic spoon, and … Lollies were different in those days.
Have I whetted your appetite?
Jan O’Connell’s Me and My Big Mouth is very highly recommended for ALL Australians who can remember buying loose lollies served in a small white plastic bag; or who can remember watching “Disneyland” on Sunday night, and “The Mickey Mouse Club” during the week, and “Father Knows Best” and “Leave It To Beaver”, and …
For those who remember when milk came in bottles, and (if you lived in a suburb) was delivered by a milk man driving a horse-drawn milk float (a special four-wheeled wagon), early in the morning, and when bread came as a whole loaf, UNSLICED, and could be bought, later in the day (if you lived in a suburb), from the back of the baker’s wagon – he would even break a two-part or double-loaf in half if the family only wanted a half of the whole loaf.
For those who can remember when SCHOOL MILK was delivered to the school in crates full of small glass bottles (one-third of a pint – 200 mls), and morning recess included handing out and drinking the milk, all the while hoping that the moving morning sun, or the summer heat, had not clotted the un-homogenized cream at the top of the bottle or curdled the milk – and if you were really lucky, using a flavoured drinking straw, and maybe playing with the aluminium foil bottle-cap, like mini-Frisbees before Frisbees were invented, …
For those who remember a mid-week evening meal consisting of FRITTERS – thick pancakes containing chopped leftover Sunday roast, or other foods, or sweet fritters made with the sliced bananas that had become too soft and patchy with brown to eat as fresh fruit, …
For those who remember BLUE cardboard packets of silver-foil wrapped soap-like blocks of Kraft (so-called) “Cheddar” – which you can still buy (!) – brilliant for cheese-on-toast, but otherwise gluggy, to say the least, and not remotely like actual “cheddar” (which was always called “tasty cheese”, and, like Stilton blue-cheese at Christmas, was for adults, and not for children). Or who remember glass jars with YELLOW labels containing spreadable Kraft “Velveeta” – which you can also still buy (but who does?), …
For those who can remember being served boiled tripe and chopped onions stewed in white flour-thickened sauce … chopped cow’s stomach! Really!?
For those who remember when a family could buy “on tick”, running an almost open-ended (credit) account with the local regular stores where the family shopped, with bills to be paid when the bread-winner was paid his weekly or fortnightly wage – and the pay came in a small brown envelope as CASH!
I could go on.
And it is highly recommended for curious younger Australians who would like to know something of the life and times of their parents, or their grandparents.
What the heck: it is highly recommended for ALL Australians!
John Gough – jagough49@gmail.com (Deakin University, retired)
1.0 out of 5 stars there was a moment at the end when she goes to New York and can't find anything good to eat and I found myself shouting at my .. 27 September 2015
By Daniel B Grimsey - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Too much about "me". Not enough about things that go in your mouth. Jan seems to have a broken keyboard, because from about halfway through every decade seems to be called the "70s", when she really seems to mean to 80s or 90s. This leads to much confusion and sentences such as "in 2001, just after the 70s had ended" or "from 1983 til the late 70s" (these aren't actual quotes but there are several very similar scattered through the book). Finally, there was a moment at the end when she goes to New York and can't find anything good to eat and I found myself shouting at my Kindle "what the hell is wrong is you?!?!"

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