Iconic cookbook turns 80

Iconic cookbook turns 80

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Best-selling author Liz Harfull will be guest speaker at the event.

Byford will host an afternoon tea to celebrate one of Western Australia’s most iconic cookbooks. 

The Country Women’s Association (CWA) Cookery Book and Household Hints continues to boast high sales more than 80 years after it was first published, making it one of the most successful cookbooks in Australia’s history. 

The afternoon tea is being hosted by the Byford and Districts branch of the CWA and will feature a talk from best-selling author and community historian Liz Harfull. 

Though it faced many challenges in the five-year path to its publication, CWA Stalwart and widowed mother-of-six Agnes Barnes guided the project to its completion in 1936 despite being in her late 50s when she took it on. 

The cookbook’s release launched Ms Barnes into the public eye, as she was regularly requested to judge cookery competitions and write a regular column in the Perth Daily News offering cooking advice. 

Ms Barnes was awarded honorary life membership of the CWA two years before her death in 1947. 

Agnes Barnes, compiler of the CWA Cookery book.

Ms Harfull has been conducting extensive research into close to 1000 different community cookbooks as part of her latest book Tried Tested and True. 

The book featured in the food heritage section of last year’s Gourmand World Cookbook Awards where it was named ‘Best in the World.’ 

It features a compilation of the best untold stories and treasured recipes from 70 different Australian cookbooks, including four from Western Australia. 

The CWA cookbook was among those featured, and Ms Harfull will be delving into the story behind the popular cookbook during her talk at the afternoon tea.

She said she hopes to see some old copies of the cookbook at the event and hear stories of people’s favourite recipes and who made them. 

Ms Harfull said she focussed on cookbooks that were produced with the intention of raising money for worthy causes, such as those that helped build schools, churches and swimming pools or treated the sick and disadvantaged with the funds they raised. 

“Many of them were humble publications but it’s true to say that the home cooks who compiled them changed Australia,” she said. 

Also included in Tried Tested and True were three other Western Australian cookbooks; Myra Edgar’s Strathalbyn Cookery Book published 1920, Elizabeth Jolley’s Cooking by Degrees compiled in the early 1960s to raise money for Save the Children, and the Historical Cookbook published in the 1970s by the Eastern Goldfields Auxiliary of the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

The afternoon tea will take place this Saturday, March 14 at Byford Hall, booking and more information can be found by contacting Christine on 0439 999 270 or Susan on 0402 358 738