Rita Erlich

Rita Erlich states that Good Enough to Eat is ‘a guide to some of the best foods in Melbourne’. It is that indeed and a very good one – and fun to read as well. But it has much more than a provincial value. Since Australian Book Review is a national journal, it is worth stressing that this book gives invaluable advice that is applicable anywhere – how to shop, what to look for, how to judge this or that purveyor, above all what questions shoppers should ask not only of the sellers but of themselves.

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In one of the more matter-of-fact paragraphs of that rare and sentient book, Celebration of the Senses, Eric Rolls reflects on how ‘until the nineteen-fifties eating was seldom an adventure in Australia’. The Greek community had taken over the country town cafes and ‘by serving food that was a parody of the worst Australian food they prospered astoundingly. Slabs of steak fried ten minutes too long came to the table with one or two eggs on top, and surrounded by potato chips, mashed potato, mashed pumpkin, sliced lettuce, tomato, canned carrots, pickled beetroot …

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