The week that was (19 May 2016)

- Trawling through the exquisite photos of The Terminus via the Lost Collective (and these beautiful country pubs) gave rise to thoughts about the traditional role of the pub as social hub in Australia. Historically they are demonised perhaps, as this article points out, because"we tend to fixate on the excesses – the drunkenness, the fights and the chauvinism" and yet traditionally they were so much more. Looking at pubs in working class areas such as Pyrmont, and thinking about the tiny cottages these people lived in, the pub was actually an extension of the lounge room.
It’s a beautiful French concept of socialising in a public space. As I understand it, this is why their bistros and cafes thrive. It is also why it is rare to be invited into a French home. I am pleased to see so many Sydney pubs being lovingly restored at the moment. 
- Of course, it’s not all bars and beers. I had an interesting conversation about the historical importance of the Greek milk bar recently and, as is often the case when you let a seedling thought take root, all of a sudden I'm seeing and and hearing it everywhere. I understand this is partly due to a recently published book of photographs of Greek milk bars/cafes around Australia, looking at the milk bar as “a kind of Trojan horse for the Americanisation of Australian culture, bringing in American refreshments, cinema, and music.”
- From the British pub to the American influenced Greek milk bar, there is, of course, a glaring sin of omission - any sign of a native culinary culture. John Newton is calling it “food racism” in this article (we are hearing a lot from John as he promotes his new book The Oldest Foods on Earth). The Waverley Root quote he opens his article with is somewhat hard to argue with: “food is a function of the soil, for which reason every country has the food naturally fit for it.” It's all about terroir.
- And for a TWTW first, a little on sport. This one comes via Alex Herbert, who questioned the use of “duck egg” to mean zero in sport (“He has clearly never eaten a duck egg and I'm clearly not up on sports saying meanings.”) I’m ashamed to note in all my summers watching the tests I had never questioned the term. Apparently it comes from the shape of the egg - it looks like a zero. For those who instead spent their summers watching tennis, you are not left out, apparently it is the English bastardisation of the French word for egg (l’oeuf) that is the etymology of the word “love” in tennis.

So, from four Australian stories I managed to link three of them to France. Tres bien. 
- The last word, and the most important this week, is for our dairy farmers. I have been trying to get my head around this for a week now, and I'm still not quite there. What I do know - both Murray Goulburn and Fonterra are retrospectively cutting the price they pay for milk (they represent around two thirds of Australian dairy farmers) plunging thousands of farmers into instant debt. They are suggesting this is to make up for a drop in interest from the Chinese market. Is this a story of mismanagement on behalf of these companies or is this actually about a flailing industry? And, irrespective of the reason and the market, this retrospective price shift astounds me. In fact it horrifies me. You can listen to what Waleed Aly has to say about it here, or read it in the Oz here. I am still dumbfounded. One thing is for sure and certain, we can’t complain if we keep seeking the cheapest. Good food costs money and we all march with our wallets.