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Tête-á-tête: Popular representations of the romantic dinner in post-war Australia

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This article examines the notions of the romantic dinner in post-war Australia, using material culture in the form of Australian food writing and advertisements in cookbooks and popular magazines from the post-war period (in this case, 1945–68). It investigates three closely related aspects of the ‘romantic’ dinner for two: the similarities and contrasts between the courtship restaurant ‘date’ and a specially prepared dinner at home; the way in which gendered roles are performed, confirmed and contested in these events; and the influence of American advertising, and its promotion of American cuisine and lifestyle, on the way the domestic meal was conceptualized and presented to housewives at this time. Bearing in mind that the social importance of food is reinforced because its preparation occurs on a daily basis and that the informative power of food and the material culture around food production is as yet only partially tapped, this analysis attempts to answer the question: was the romantic dinner for two an opportunity for romance, or was it a creation that reinforced post-war gender roles in Australia?
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Keywords: Australia; advertising; cookbooks; cookery; food writing; romance

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Central Queensland University

Publication date: March 1, 2020

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  • The Australasian Journal of Popular Culture is a peer-reviewed journal devoted to the scholarly understanding of everyday cultures. It is concerned with the study of the social practices and the cultural meanings that are produced and are circulated through the processes and practices of everyday life. As a product of consumption, an intellectual object of inquiry, and as an integral component of the dynamic forces that shape societies. The journal will be receptive to articles which focus on Australasian examples, or broader comparative and theoretical questions viewed through an Australasian lens.
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