Milk Bar era

Who remembers the era of the Milk Bars here in Australia? The days where shops were not open past 5pm on a weekday, closed by lunchtime on a Saturday and did not re-open until Monday morning. It was a real treat to go to a Milk Bar.

This was back in the period when predominantly all meals were home cooked, most people had a vegetable garden and fruit trees and some folks even had chooks. Fresh produce was swapped with neighbours and family. If people wanted to catch up, it was mostly done so at home over a home-cooked meal or baked goods for morning or afternoon tea. Rarely did people ‘eat out’.

Even when people were travelling, a thermos would be packed along with cool drinks and a picnic basket or hamper with plenty of supplies of fruit and home baked goodies to last the trip. Even a stop at a Milk Bar when travelling was a real treat too. How special was it to buy an ice-cream or a cold drink!

These days are so very different. Over and over again catching up with friends involves setting a date and choosing a venue to meet up at for a coffee, a meal or drinks. We often have no idea where the food we consume was grown, purchased from nor who cooked it.

Times have changed so very fast. Milk bars and the old-style cafes are a rarity, so much so that a well-known café that is closing down in the Blue Mountains in NSW has been receiving a lot of media coverage. The end of an era coming to a close soon where mere memories will be replacing the chance for a real life experience.

I have been seeing lots of photos of late of old Greek cafés and the Milk Bars of yesteryear; times when food and life was much simpler. I just spent a weekend away where I dined in modern cafes and a restaurant. I appreciate being able to do this yet I long for some of the old-style cafes and milk bars to remain. A nice balance of the old and new would seem ideal. I am always on the lookout for and love seeing some of these old buildings and am even more excited when they are still operating as they did many years ago.

Perhaps it is just nostalgia or a longing for time to not go so fast that holds my interest in these places. Perhaps it is the coverage I have seen in articles and the media of late also. Whatever it is, I like being able to have the opportunity to both eat out with loved ones and also make home cooked meals from local fresh produce.

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