From 'training in citizenship and home-making' to 'plating up': writing Australian cookbooks for younger readers

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Wessell, A & Brien, DL 2011, November, 'From 'training in citizenship and home-making' to 'plating up': writing Australian cookbooks for younger readers', The ethical imaginations: writing worlds papers - the refereed proceedings of the 16th conference of the Australasian Association of Writing Programs, Byron Bay, NSW, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW, pp. 1-11. ISBN: 9780980757347

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In term of popular literature about young people, cookbooks purporting to address children’s obesity and other diet related issues currently take a prominent place. Beside these, there is a growing related sub-genre of cookbooks for young people that are intended as guides use in practical food preparation. These include television tie-ins such as the globalised Junior MasterChef series as well as books by chefs, nutritionalists, activists, celebrities and parents, most of which have an almost rigidly proscriptive take on what, how and why children eat, and what and how they should eat. Working from Australian cookery instruction books for girls such as those by Flora Pell (1916 and later), through Margaret Gossett’s landmark Children’s Picture Cookbook (1947), to today’s plethora of children-targeted volumes, this paper addresses this Australian publishing phenomenon. It examines these books from the point of view of writers-as-producers as well as the intended consumers for these volumes, the various messages they convey, and what they reflect about food, society and writing for children in Australian popular culture.