Margaret Fulton Brought the World to the Australian Table

Margaret Fulton Brought the World to the Australian Table

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This week’s issue is written by Tacey Rychter, an audience editor and writer based in Sydney.


When news broke Wednesday that Margaret Fulton, the best-selling Australian cookbook author, died at 94, many people posted photos of their copies of her books in tribute, the pages crusted and spattered with generations of food debris. Is there a greater compliment?

An Australian Julia Child of sorts and a brilliant communicator, she propelled nearly an entire generation, mainly of Anglo women, toward a more adventurous and open-minded family table.

“There’s no doubt that she’s a pivotal and very important figure in our culinary and cookbook history,” said Tim White, the co-owner of the Melbourne bookstore, Books for Cooks.

Her record for the number of cookbooks sold in Australia “will probably never be beaten again.”

A Fulton in nearly every home

It’s hard to overstate her commercial and cultural power. Her first book, “The Margaret Fulton Cookbook,” published in 1968, had a first print run of 100,000 copies — an extraordinary achievement at the time — and went on to sell more than 1.5 million copies.

By some estimates, there was a time when one in five Australian homes, if not more, had a Margaret Fulton book.

For those who didn’t grow up with Margaret Fulton, it might be hard to see why she was as impactful on Australia’s cooking culture as she was. The retro, moody food photography is kitsch now, and the illustrated, step-by-step guide to eating spaghetti might seem a little silly to a modern audience.

But her starter guides to international cuisines like Chinese and Italian, which patiently explained new ingredients like soy sauce, were a first touch point for many seeking bolder flavors.

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