Posted by: Lisa Hill | July 24, 2019

Vale Margaret Fulton (1924-2019)

It is with sadness that I share the news that Margaret Fulton OAM has died, aged 94.  I wrote my Homage to Margaret Fulton 10 years ago, in 2009, when it seemed that she would always be with us…

Born in Scotland, Fulton migrated to Australia when she was three.  Her cooking career began in 1947 when she began teaching at the Overseas Corporation and introduced the pressure cooker to Australia.  She went to become a demonstrator and eventually ran a Tuesday cooking class at Sydney’s Bistro, which was the catalyst for her regular contributions to women’s magazines.  (This was when women’s magazines were useful, with recipes and knitting patterns and informative articles, not like the trashy things sold as women’s magazines today).

Now credited as Australia’s first ‘food-writer’, Margaret Fulton introduced generations of post-war domestic cooks to enjoy cooking and to be creative.  All of her cook books were informative and easy to follow, and they introduced novice cooks to essential techniques like making stock or featherlight pastry.  She progressed from having a cookbook section called ‘International’ to incorporating a wide variety of cuisines amongst the soups, entrees and main courses, so we learned to cook Chinese, Italian and French along with making biscuits, jams and chutneys.

I will always think of Margaret Fulton at Christmas, when I use her guide to cooking the perfect turkey, and use her tip for heating up the Christmas pudding, in the crockpot.  (Bung it in the night before, on low, with a cup of water under the pudding basin, and the pud will be piping hot, no stress, by the time you’re ready to eat it).

If ever an Australian deserved a State Funeral, it’s Margaret Fulton. She brought more happiness to Australian family life than anyone else I can think of.

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Some details of this obituary were sourced from Margaret Fulton’s Wikipedia page.


Responses

  1. Oh Lisa what a beautiful tribute to such a wonderful Australian who brought her Scottish heritage and shared it in this country always with a warm open disposition. I know she helped me bring good food to my young family of four children plus extended family for long spells sometimes. I was limited as a young wife of just eighteen years and her recipes educated and influenced my cuisine which gave me a reasonable reputation in the kitchen. And that she was Scottish with all the best qualities of that culture made me kind of proud too. Her lovely books are still used though a bit the worse for wear.
    A great Australian and I doubt we will see her like again. Kind of sad.

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    • Oh yes, my books have all lost their dustjackets and are bound up with library binding tape to keep them from falling to bits. Well-loved cookbooks are the history not just of a kitchen but also of family life, and I feel sorry for people who cook from an iPad because there is nothing for future generations to leaf through and say, oh, yes, I remember my mother cooking that.
      She was a great Australian and I have no doubt that she is mourned all over Australia.

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  2. I thought today when I was driving home and heard the news that you’d write this Lisa. I have her cookbook, of course. How many around our age don’t, but unlike you I really don’t recollect one recipe from it. The recipes I remember tend to come from those Womens Weekly Cookbooks. However, I agree that she was really important to changing our attitudes to food, cooking and eating – moving us from a very boring, plain past to something more interesting.

    (I wish I had a crockpot though, because I’d certainly use that method for the Christmas pudding. Mine always heats through on the stove, but it would be nice to have it out of the way!)

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    • The year my original Monier crock pot died after 20 years of service, I had to do it on the stove, and it was such a pain, constantly setting an alarm to tell me to check the water and filling up the pan… never again! I couldn’t buy an exact replacement, and the people at The Good Guys thought I was a bit odd bringing in my pudding basin to check that it would fit into the new one!
      The other recipe I always slow cook in a crock pot is MF’s recipe for pears poached in red wine. I learned from this year’s MasterChef that it’s a very old-fashioned recipe, but my guests always love it, love it to bits, and cooked in a crock pot it is the easiest and most delicious dessert, especially in winter:)

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      • I actually don’t find that an issue – these days I rarely check because I’ve never had it run dry It’s just the space the big pot takes up on the stove that’s the issue.

        But, those pears sound great. They aren’t easy to get right on a stove. I have a baked recipe now that I use, because it always works.

        You are almost convincing me about a crockpot, but as the Gums family will tell you, I hate appliances and have as few as possible. If I ever relented though, I think the crock pot would be the one.

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        • I hear you on appliances. Mastering the Art of French Cookery says you don’t need them, and it’s (mostly) true. I held out against a rice cooker for years until The Offspring convinced me otherwise, and at the same time somebody started selling a small one, perfect for two people. But all the other stuff? frypan, deep fryer, steamer, thingummy to boil eggs – seriously? NO wonder people are so badly in debt if they think they need all that stuff.

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          • I don’t even have a rice cooker, tho the offspring have tried, so I understand the pressure! I love rice and have my stove method which never fails. I have food processor, mixer, stick blender, toaster and microwave.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. I was also sad to hear this news. What a life she had.

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    • Yes… I always admire people who make their own careers… that is, the job doesn’t exist, so they create it:)

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  4. Amazing lady. Grew up with her cook books. She wasn’t regarded as being very ‘cool’ when my sister and I were in late teens/early 20s but we loved her and thought she was brilliant. Sounds like she led a very interesting life!

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    • Her daughter works in the food industry too. If I remember rightly, they collaborated together on The New MF Cookbook, which was about healthier eating, less fat and so on.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Such a beautiful tribute, Lisa. Very sad news.

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    • Hi Vishy,
      Is there anyone like her in India food culture? Someone who introduced Indian home cooks to different ways of doing things? I’m guessing not, because Indian cuisine is so varied and so delicious, why would anyone want to change it? Whereas most traditional British-Australian food was not very appetising at all!

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      • Hi Lisa, There were a few here who are famous for writing cookbooks and who brought different kinds of cuisine to Indian homes. Tarla Dalal is the most famous among them. In my own part of India, there was a writer called Meenakshi Ammal, who wrote books with recipes for every kind of traditional South Indian dish. But I don’t think either of them was as famous across India, as Margaret Fulton seems to have been across Australia.

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        • I think Margaret Fulton had that role because of two things: the booming economy here meant that households had money to spend, and they wanted to have nice food, especially since post war migration was bringing different cuisines to Australia. But also the rise of feminism meant that women weren’t necessarily taught to cook by their mothers any more. So a book that showed you how was invaluable.

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