CQUniversity researcher Jill Adams doing research on cooking by Australian women in the 1950s and early 1960s.
CQUniversity researcher Jill Adams doing research on cooking by Australian women in the 1950s and early 1960s. Geoff Potter

Aiming to dismiss meat, 3 veg myth

WHAT was really put on the table in the 1950s and '60s?

A researcher wants to test the popular notion that old-fashioned cooking was all about meat and three vegetables.

Jill Adams, an external PhD student at CQ University , is looking at cookery of the early 1950s and '60s for her thesis.

"There's this idea that in the '50s we all ate meat and vegetables and housewives were pretty unhappy," she said.

"I want to have a look at that view of the 1950s and challenge it."

Ms Adams has collected 200-300 cookbooks from the era as part of her research.

But she is hoping that women who attended cooking demonstrations, particularly by visiting American chef Dione Lucas, can shed some light on cooking trends.

Lucas had trained at Cordon Bleu in Paris.

She also had her own weekly television show in the United States during the 1950s.

The Women's Weekly brought her to Australia to host cooking demonstrations in the capital cities in the1950s.

Ms Adams stumbled upon news of the demonstrations in an old Women's Weekly supplement from the era.

"Women flocked to her cooking shows and she inspired a lot of women to be a bit more creative in the kitchen," Ms Adams said.

"She was very much of the belief that cooking was a creative art and not a drudgery."

Ms Adams said her research had led her to believe that Australian cooks were more creative during the time period than people realised.

"I'm finding more and more that women were experimenting and getting out to new restaurants and wanting to try new recipes at home," she said.

"Australia had beautiful ingredients and people were experimenting at home.

"Most people who you talk to remember meat and three veg, but there was a lot of other stuff happening as well," she said.

Ms Adams, who is based in Melbourne, travelled to Noosa this week to meet with one of Lucas' descendants who also happened to be visiting the Sunshine Coast.

She anticipates returning later this year.

She would like to talk to any women about the cookbooks they used and their memories of cooking during that time.

She would particularly like to meet anyone who attended a Lucas cooking demonstration.

For more information on the recipe research, phone 0431 038 810 or email agoodbrew@mac.com.

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