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

A gourmet in the gold mines

Butcher's shamble, nr. Adelaide Gully, Forrest Creek. S.T.Gill.National Library Australia. Rex Nan Kivell Collection ; NK586/15

If I was going to do a ‘Julie and Julia’, the book I’d want to work through is Modern cookery for private families, first published 1845 by Eliza Acton’s (1799-1859). It is written with eloquence and grace, and with practical descriptions of mid-1800s English cookery.
It was sold in bookshops in the colony, and was the ‘go to’ cook book for prospector William Howitt, in the Ballarat goldfields in 1853.  Continue reading

First catch your eel…

Lindsay Adam from Fred's Bush Tucker showing visitors how eel is prepared for cooking at Elizabeth Farm. Photo © James Horan for Sydney Living Museums

It’s Eel Festival time! Come along to Elizabeth Farm in Parramatta this Sunday to celebrate the districts close ties with eels – including an opportunity to sample some freshly roasted eel, hot off the coals in the traditional manner. Continue reading

Signature dishes

No. 10 Bistro's take on Mrs Nisbett's ginger cake. Photo © Jacqui Newling for Sydney Living Museums

The recipes in our archives and collections remind us just how much personality and good will is shared in culinary exchanges, and the importance of memory in recipes that have been passed on by friends and neighbours, and down through generations.

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Curry stuff

Edward Abbott's curry powder. Photo © James Horan for Sydney Living Museums.

Although being immensely popular, Australia’s first published cookbook, Edward Abbott’s The English and Australian cookery book for the many and the upper ten thousand (1864), featured only one recipe for a ‘curry’. Continue reading