The Colonial Kitchen

Saturday night in a diggers hut (detail) 1865. Nicholas Chevalier in The Australian news for home readers. State Library of Victoria

While we’ve been dishing up small tasty morsels about food in colonial Australia, local Sydney author Charmaine O’Brien has created a banquet of tastes, both culinary and social, in her latest book, The Colonial Kitchen: Australia 1788- 1901. (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016). Taking us from hearth-side cookery in bushman’s huts to the most elegant dining rooms in the land, this book introduces us to homely housewives, servants struggling trying to meet the culinary needs of the squattocracy, influential cookery writers and entrepreneurial restaurateurs. Continue reading

A search for Mrs Gaffney, c 1890s, Tamworth.

Mrs Gaffney's date and nut cake from Eat your history, stories and recipes from Australian kitchens. (SLM and NewSouth Publishing, 2015). Photo © James Horan for Sydney Living Museums

Regular readers may remember we’ve been on a quest to identify some of the contributors the Meroogal manuscript recipe collection. The recipes appear to date from the 1890s. We do feel we might be on the right track Continue reading

The convict diet

Historical reenactors assemble outside Hyde Park Barracks. Photo © Fiona Morris for Sydney Living Museums

According to Francois-Maurice Lepailleur, a convict living at the Hyde Park barracks in 1840, “You don’t starve but you’re always hungry.” So what did convicts eat at Hyde Park barracks in the when it was home to over 600 male convict workers at any one time?
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A slip of the tongue

Supper table from Mrs Beeton's Book of household management, 1895. Caroline Simpson Library and Research collection © Sydney Living Museums

Unappetising as it might seem today, tongue was regarded a delicacy in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Tongue was on the menu at formal dinners, sociable breakfasts and wedding banquets, and at the gala ball held at Government House for the Prince of Wales,  Continue reading

A picnic at Lucknow

Old fashioned sticky buns at the Wentworth picnic at Lucknow, NSW. Photo © Jacqui Newling, Sydney Living Museums

On the Queen’s birthday holiday on Tuesday May 24, 1887, the miners at the Wentworth goldfields experienced a ‘unique and enjoyable event’ – a picnic with their families, hosted by the mine manager, Henry Newman and his wife.  Continue reading