Cookbook Review: Adelaide Central Market: Stories, People & Recipes, by Fiona Roberts and Katie Spain • Glam Adelaide

Cookbook Review: Adelaide Central Market: Stories, People & Recipes, by Fiona Roberts and Katie Spain

Delicious seasonal-driven recipes from stallholders’ families, producers and chefs, served with the memories of the traders of yesteryear and today.

Warms the heart like a big cup of coffee at Lucia’s

The Adelaide Central Market is one of the largest undercover fresh produce markets in the Southern Hemisphere, with over 70 traders, 1 million kilograms of fresh produce sold every month and over 9 million visitors every year. In true Aussie style, it began in 1869 because a group of market gardeners were fed up with conditions in the East End so they set themselves up somewhere else, and it was an overwhelming success from the start.

This book warmed my heart like a big cup of coffee at Lucia’s followed by pastries at any (or realistically, all) of the many amazing bakeries in Adelaide’s own Central Market. It follows the history of the market over the last 150 years, with anecdotes that bring to life the characters who have been a part of the place throughout its history. 

To add to this, there are also recipes from market sellers and from other famous chefs and cooks, such as Maggie Beer, inspired by market produce. At the start of each recipe, there is an introduction from the person whose recipe it is as to why it is something special. They also provide a bit of their own history. Each recipe has a clear list of ingredients, cooking times and serving sizes and pictures.

The recipes are grouped according to seasons using seasonal produce. This makes it easy to find something that might suit a particular time of year. Even for a relative amateur like me, there are plenty of recipes that aren’t too difficult at all and many others might look complicated but reading through, they are well explained and logical to follow.

Nashi Pear Slaw (page 328)

Flicking through all of the amazing looking recipes, I decided the weekend was the perfect opportunity to make a completely different type of salad so I made the Nashi Pear Slaw. Recipe in hand, I went to the shops and bought items I had never even though of putting in a salad – fish sauce, brown sugar, lime, shallots…

I was lazy and chucked the red cabbage in the food processor and really should not have! Rather than it being shredded, it ended up well-blitzed. This did not change the flavour however. It tasted brilliant!  Much better than a lazy garden salad, it looked colourful and the lime, lemon and brown sugar beautifully offset the fish sauce and soy sauce. I absolutely will make this again as it really made me look like an expert, too!

This book captures the vibe, the sounds, the smells… the total sensory experience that it is to work at and visit the Adelaide Central Market. I will never forget working for a lovely Greek lady named Jenny many years ago in the Market – she was smart, funny and never stopped talking, to me, to customers, to delivery people, you name it. One day, she and her son were being so loud that I couldn’t hear a customer talking so turned around to tell them to stop arguing. She looked at me and yelled, “What do you mean arguing? We’re talking. We’re Greek!” We also regularly discussed books and if a customer happened to walk up, they would be questioned about their favourite book and regaled with a review of Jenny’s favourite, The Good Earth by Pearl Buck. Our customers just knew that shopping with us was always an experience!

Both authors, Katie Spain and Fiona Roberts, have an impressive array of degrees and writing (books, magazines and newspapers), not to mention their own current foodie careers. Fiona now lives in the Adelaide Hills and runs a food consultancy company titled Fiona Roberts Food and Katie writes for a number of magazines and is a regular on FIVEaa and ABC Radio. This book is an ode to their passion for food and for the people behind it all.

Just like the Central Market, this book can’t be pigeon-holed as one thing for one person. It works as a coffee table book with pictures and short anecdotes to browse through. It’s a history book with tales of Adelaide over the last 150 years, and as a recipe book with practical, gorgeous recipes to drool over.

Reviewed by Michelle Baylis

Distributed by: Wakefield Press
Released: December 2018
RRP: $79.95 hardcover

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