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nationalities), is the film’s great strength. Hamer is on record as saying that he had wanted to call his film, Prayers of the Kitchen, but was out-voted by his producers, and probably rightfully so – a little too serious, a little too obvious. The day I was invited to speak at this year’s Watermark Literary Muster, I was listening to endless Schubert songs, recordings made over thirty-five years ago by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau with the accompanist Gerald Moore. They had, in fact, been given to me by a chef, Damien Pignolet, a very talented and particular cook, and knowledgeable music lover, who belongs to the same, now almost-superseded generation of Australian cooks as myself. Listening to Schubert lieder in the kitchen, I had begun to clean out the fridge. Or perhaps that should be the other way around – I was scrubbing the fridge shelves and while doing so listened to Schubert lieder. I began to think about the ridiculous juxtaposition of sublime Schubert songs and fridge, music and Nifti. The day before I had listened to, and spent much of the time watching, Tatiana Nikolayeva perform Shostakovich’s ‘24 Preludes and Fugues’; spellbound by this old woman, who could be mistaken for a babushka with the worn hands of a washerwoman, performing her close friend’s most intimate and remarkable piano music. I toasted some bread and poached an egg, ate both, cleaned up and continued to watch the DVD and listen to the music. My kitchen is part of a large room, the only separation between the dining table and the sofas and the small television screen is a very wide timber bench. It is stacked with books and journals and acts as a kind of private lectern. To read I turn away from the stove, the sink, the fridge but at one end of this bench are bowls and plates of vegetables and fruit. The necessary acts of collecting produce from the garden, of cooking, tasting and digestion give me pleasure but are a part of commonplace, daily life. Sometimes the produce is exceptional, sometimes not, the food prepared is sometimes ‘passingly excellent’ (Ishmael’s wonderfully exact verdict on a clam chowder in Melville’s Moby Dick). Most of the time it is

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