Deborah Solomon grew up in a home of great music and exceptional food. Sunday lunches were legendary, with no sign of a leg of roast lamb. Tables were laden with the exotic dishes from everywhere her parents, Reuben and Charmaine, had lived and travelled. Family and friends ate enthusiastically, followed by hours of jazz played by talented family members plus some of the great musos of the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and ‘90’s.
As a young woman, Charmaine trained as a journalist in her homeland, Sri Lanka, a country where all middle classes had servants to clean and cook. When she arrived in Sydney, she was accomplished only in cooking cakes and other delicacies, not day to day meals.
Charmaine’s love of the food of Sri Lanka was not easy to satisfy in the early 1960’s unless she cooked it herself. Treasured handwritten recipes from her mother and aunts came with care packages including tins of the exotic spices and ingredients so hard to find in Sydney at the time.
Charmaine found that combining her love of cooking and her journalistic skills was her strong suit. As a self-taught cook she had an intuition for explaining a recipe in a clear and easy-to-follow manner.
Her career spanned four decades as a food writer in newspapers, Belle Magazine and Family Circle. She was Woman’s Day Food Editor in the 1980’s, made many television appearances and wrote over 30 cookbooks, the most famous being ‘The Complete Asian Cookbook’. It is still in print, has sold over a million copies and has been translated into at least five languages.
Reuben, who had been a professional musician since the age of 19, also dabbled in cooking, in a much more jazz musician-like way, with considerable improvising.
Growing up in this home it was hard not to be swept up by either the music or the cooking.
Debbie chose food, finishing her education studying a Diploma of Home Economics at East Sydney Technical College. She has worked at The Regent Hotel in Sydney, Quincy’s Restaurant and both Woman’s World and Woman’s Day magazines. She has written a cookbook, taught at colleges and both the AEG and the AGL Cooking School as well as presenting on television programmes.
Now running ‘Spices’, the curry paste business set up by her parents, she is busy enjoying cooking for friends and family, loves gardening and travelling.