The Monday Morning Cooking Club
authors of The Feast Goes On
Ten Terrifying Questions
1.To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourselves – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
We all live in Sydney, Australia but we have come from all over: Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, South Africa. And our family backgrounds are even more diverse, reflecting the Jewish community’s melting pot: Hungary, Poland, Russia via China, South Africa, England.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
When we were twelve we were all consumed with what was in our lunch boxes and pantries. Some of us were getting schnitzel on rye and really wanted Vegemite on white bread. Some of our pantries were stocked with kosher salami, dill pickles and poppyseed cake and all we really wanted were biscuits from a packet and bought jam swiss rolls. What did we want to be? Like everybody else!
When we were eighteen we were discovering our passion for food. Learning and loving to cook, throwing our first dinner parties and searching for good food. What did we want to be? Grown up and accomplished.
When we were thirty we were all consumed with motherhood, trying to find the time for a cup of tea and a delicious piece of cake and striving to find the right life/work balance. What did we want to be? Less sleep deprived than we were!
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
At eighteen, we were all so sure we knew more than our mothers. As we grow older and wiser, and have 18 year old daughters ourselves, we have learned the adage is true: ‘mother is always right.’
4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?
Growing up, more so than any one event, the continual celebrations that went on in all our homes each and every year for Jewish festivals (passover, Jewish New Year, Yom Kippur) and weekly Friday night feasts for Sabbath eve together with mothers who were committed and passionate about cooking and feeding their families. 2: On a larger scale, the immigration to Australia from countries as far and wide as Vietnam, Greece, Hungary, Russia and South Africa has given our lives in Australia a cultural and culinary diversity which has enriched our national makeup and palate. 3: The creation of our first book ‘Monday Morning Cooking Club – the food the stories the sisterhood’. The years we spent collecting, testing and preserving family heirloom recipes filled us with a great joy, and taught us so much along the way.
5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? aren’t they obsolete?
Printed cookbooks will never be obsolete. Some of us think that there is nothing more enjoyable than taking your latest cookbook to bed and reading it cover to cover, ogling the beautiful photos and feeling the pages between your fingers.
The Feast Goes On features the best loved and most delicious stories from the heart and soul of our community right across Australia. It is not a book of Jewish food per se, it’s a book of recipes from Jewish kitchens, collected from countries far and wide. The book speaks of a community drawn together by food, with intimate and moving stories of sharing and survival, love and hope, friendship and family. It is full of precious family recipes passed down from past generations through to recipes that will become instant family favourites.The book has recipes for every occasion – from every day eating to feasting, light lunches to fressing, comfort food to traditional dishes – which will nurture, nourish and inspire.
7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?
To find, collect, recreate and publish all those wonderful heirloom recipes from the older generation before they are lost forever. We believe the old recipes still fit so well into our contemporary world.
8. Whom do you most admire and why?
As a group, without a doubt, we place our grandmothers on the highest pedestal. We look back with wonder on how they managed to nurture and feed their families the most exquisite dishes without any of today’s mod-cons; plucking chickens to produce golden roasts, pickling and preserving anything and everything to get though the winter, home baked bread made from scratch, the lightest of chiffon cakes, flaky pastries crammed with dried fruit and nuts.
9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
Our goal is to create a contemporary face for Australian Jewish cuisine. One important part of this is to preserve those treasured recipes from the older generation for our generation, and from our generation for the future. The other important aspect is that we are a not-for-profit company and will continue to raise substantial funds for charity.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Always follow your dream, don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t be dissuaded by the ’NO’s’. Doors open at the most unexpected times!
Monday Morning Cooking Club, thank you for playing!
About the Contributor
Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.
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