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Extract from Philip Muskett's preface to The Art of Living in Australia.

ALTHOUGH this work fully deals with all the many matters connected with the art of living in Australia, its principal object is the attempt to bring about some improvement in the extraordinary food-habits at present in vogue. For years past the fact that our people live in direct opposition to their semi-tropical environment has been constantly before me. As it will be found in the opening portion of the chapter on School Cookery, the consumption of butcher’s meat and of tea is enormously in excess of any common sense requirements, and is paralleled nowhere else in the world. On the other hand, there has been no real attempt to develop our deep-sea fisheries; market gardening is deplorably neglected, only a few of the more ordinary varieties being cultivated; salads, which are easily within the daily reach of every home, are conspicuous by their absence; and Australian wine, which should be the national
beverage of every-day life, is at table — almost a curiosity.

But if there is one desirable form of food which we should expect to find in daily use by the whole community, it is surely the salad. More than this, it deserves to meet with favour as a national dish. It takes pre-eminent rank in Southern Europe, and is certainly entitled to occupy a similar high position in the Australian food list. Unfortunately there is just the same story to tell, and the strange neglect of salads can only be expressed by the term incomprehensible. It is a waste-saving dish; it is wholesome, in that it is purifying to the blood; it is full of infinite variety; and its low price brings it within easy every-day reach even of the humblest dwelling. But, as things are, even the salad plants themselves are represented by a meagre list, and are confined to only few varieties. And as far as salad herbs are concerned, they are literally unknown.

As it will be seen, a considerable portion of this work is taken up with the practical side of living, as exemplified by the Australian Cookery Recipes. From the very first it was recognised that it was imperative to include them within its compass. It occurred to me, however, that this important department would better be undertaken by someone thoroughly conversant with the subject. With this object in view, therefore, I submitted to Mrs. H. Wicken what I required. I knew Mrs. Wicken to be well qualified for the task from the following facts, namely, that she had previously been successful in her culinary writings; that she was a Diplomée of the National Training School for Cookery, South Kensington; and that she occupied the responsible post of lecturer to the Technical College, Sydney. My propositions were that the recipes were to be written purely for Australian use, and that they were to be of the strictly economical order. Mrs. Wicken accepted the task, and it can only be hoped that her efforts will meet with the approbation they deserve.

From the climatic standpoint alone it is safe to predict that the future Australian will be more nearly akin to the inhabitants of Southern Europe than to his progenitors in the old country; though, naturally, there will be considerable diversity between the native born of the various regions, covering as they do such a vast extent of territory. The ample opportunities for outdoor life will do much towards ensuring physical development. And, finally, the imaginative faculties will be very active, and it is quite permissible to hope that in time there will be a long roll of artists, musicians, and poets.

The Art of Living in Australia
Philip E. Muskett
ISBN: 9781920897659

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