Rich Pickings

Jean Duruz
2011 Cultural Studies Review  
My dinner party piece (shaped from a fragment of memory that I've also written about elsewhere) is a performance of a dreary winter spent in England: 'It was London in the year 2000 ... threats of BSE, salmonella and foot and mouth ... a faltering Australian dollar and a buoyant English pound ... damp days made memorable by a local café' s lunch specialvegetable tikka baguette ...'. You can imagine the rest. However, the point of including this fragment here is not to mount an assault on
more » ... n assault on British industrial cooking or to flaunt an irritating (post)colonial defiance, claiming multiculinary superiority. Instead, I am curious about the taste of homesickness and longingunexpected hauntings of coconut milk, chilli, galangal and lemongrass on the tongue. For in England, I was homesick not for iconic Anglo-Australian foods (forget Vegemite and Anzac biscuits, and Violet Crumble Bars with their chocolate-honeycomb textures) but for distinctive tastes of a borrowed foodway (remember laksa instead). The imagined presence of this dish-Chinese rice-flour noodles blended with Malay spices, its origins in the Straits Settlements of Malacca, Penang and Singaporeproduced depths of yearning that, even now, seem almost inexplicable. Cultural writing on the literal and symbolic meanings of taste should have much to offer, analytically speaking, for appeasing nagging memories like these. Carolyn Korsmeyer' s edited collection, The Taste Culture Reader: Experiencing Food and Drink, is a case in point. Ambitious in scope, this collection of thirty-seven contributions and eight thematic sections, each section with an editorial preface, explores the 199 JEAN DURUZ-RICH PICKINGS
doi:10.5130/csr.v12i2.2351 fatcat:n5yorlwbffdldlo7xosirbdlue