Cooking with Baz: How I Got to Know My Father

Sean Dooley

Cooking with Baz: How I Got to Know My Father
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Cooking with Baz: How I Got to Know My Father

Sean Dooley

‘Baz and my culinary tastes had, like virtually everything in our lives, moved in different directions. He was a meat and three veg kind of bloke. Me, well, I didn’t know what kind of bloke I was.’ Sean’s dad, Baz, believes in making the most of the good things in life - beer, races and footy. Sean is a studious, birdwatching kind of guy. When Sean’s mum, Di, starts treatment for cancer, it is cooking, of all things, that brings father and son together. Baz starts whipping up Japanese fish parcels and braised lamb shanks with polenta to tempt Di’s flagging post-chemo appetite and Sean is impressed. When Baz gets the bad news that a lifetime of drinking and smoking has caught up with him, it’s suddenly Sean’s turn in the kitchen … As much about the changing landscape of Australian male culture as it is about losing loved ones, Cooking with Baz will make you laugh and get a lump in your throat, often at the same time. And you’ll think about what ‘family’ really means.

Review

Sean Dooley’s father Baz is your typical Aussie larrikin who loves his pub, his mates, his meat and, when he finally returns home many hours later to a cold meal, his family. Part autobiography, part memoir, this book is an amusing look back at Australian suburban life in the seventies and eighties with an artistic mother married to a loud-mouthed bookmaker from the wrong side of the tracks. Sean works with his father as a bookie to pay his way through university but chooses bird-watching and literature over interminable drinking and yarn sessions at the bar.

Among the smiles this memoir evokes is the unconditional love shown by Baz towards Di when she is dying from her second bout of cancer. Emaciated, bedridden, in pain and having no appetite, Baz goes to extraordinary lengths to tempt her palate with an array of his deliciously home-cooked meals. It is during these heart-wrenching times that Baz and Sean reconnect and discover the glories in the common ground they thought they’d lost.

Sean Dooley was a Readings Glenfern Fellow.

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