Book Review: Kitchen Table Memoirs




Kitchen Table Memoirs would make a gorgeous present for mother’s day. It is infused with the love of family and the triumphs and tragedies played out around the kitchen table. It brought back to me fond memories of growing up in the seventies in Sydney, watching Countdown on a Sunday night, jumping on a trampoline endlessly throughout the school holidays, and the joys and tortures of sitting at the table while family dramas played themselves out.

Prominent Australian writers and foodies have donated their stories:

  • Denise Scott remembers her mother’s kitchen table as a hub of activities including tea drinking, smoking, sewing and tanning children for gym competitions. She describes what it feels like to witness her mother’s Alzheimer’s as she reshapes the history of the kitchen table to help her cope.
  • Dan Stock describes his experience working and eating as a chef at the River Cafe.
  • Helen Garner reflects on the different tables she has purchased for different phases of her life.
  • Annabel Langbein enjoys sharing a workers lunch in Italy.
  • Valli Little describes a kitchen table left behind with her parents in England when she leaves to live in Australia.
  • Martin Brown points out the merits of table climbing learned while living in a shared household as a student.
  • Elizabeth Cashen reveals what she learned at the table as a patient at an Eating Disorders Clinic during a difficult period in her life.
  • Barbara Santich’s childhood table taught her to enjoy the preserving of fruit, jam making, bread baking and the happiness of preparations for Christmas lunch.
  • Jean Kittson describes the journey a table takes from generation to generation with her working class family in the countryside. The table is a country where babies are bathed, pipes are smoked and family tragedies and triumphs are played out.
  • Tony Wilson’s brother is laid out on the kitchen table after a trampolining stunt gone wrong.
  • An adult Jane Caro tries to talk to her mother at the table about growing up that she has revisited in recent therapy .
  • Jessica Adams realises that growing up in Australia had a lot to do about sitting down to dinner in front of Countdown every Sunday night.
  • Bruce Esplin talks about what it was like to sit for his wife Roz’s Archibald portrait prize entry.
  • Gemima Cody grows up in the school of hard knocks and travels the world to find her way back home.
  • Spiri Tsintziras sits at the family table at her parents’ house with her own kids.
  • Ben Robertson finds a love of family and his table.
  • John Tully works as a chef in the Antarctic and prepares an extravagant Midwinter dinner.
  • Stefano de Pieri enjoys the ritual of an Italian Sunday lunch with his family and friends  in Australia.
  • George McEncroe is one of a family of seven so table room was at a premium growing up. She now has four of her own small children and the table conversation is priceless.
  • Simon Marnie talks about finding and eating Australia’s first truffle and the genius of chef Tim Pak Choy.

A percentage of royalties from each book sold will be donated to Foodbank, Australia’s largest food relief agency.

Note: I was given a copy of Kitchen Table Memoirs to review for MumsDelivery.


10 thoughts on “Book Review: Kitchen Table Memoirs

  1. WM says:

    It’s a beautiful idea to make a kitchen table an ‘axis’ of memories’s book. I’m impressed. A book likes this could be created everywhere … Congratulation to editor!

    • What I liked about it was that I could relate to so many of the stories because of the similarities I had growing up in Australia. I wonder if it would be as meaningful for someone who has grown up elsewhere. Probably!

  2. Lakshmi Loves To Shop says:

    A great book review…I’d like to read it. Every night we sit around the kitchen table and recount the days happenings…I’m just waiting for Rahul to return home from work so we can do just that 🙂

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