I am struggling to think about Sydney as a place, similar to what Michael Darcy says about the absence of smell from Sydney.

My strongest smell memory is around Cabramatta and its Asian food markets – the cooking aromas, not so much unpleasant, as confronting. A mix of strange, exotic, and hard work. Honesty. No pretence. Family.

Reminds me of shopping and cooking with my nan in her flat in Cabramatta. We would walk down the street with her granny trolley to the Asian grocery stores and she would buy all the ingredients and cook by taste, not following a recipe—that’s how I cook today.

Nan always said a bit of sugar in spicy foods and a bit of salt in sweet.


Fermented soy bean, fresh bean sprouts, Peking duck flesh and sweet and sour, dirty mop water, deep fried oil, shrimp paste


Lisbeth Conroy