Annual Eel Festival

Fred from Fred's Bush Tucker holds an eel ready for cooking at Elizabeth Farm Photo © James Horan for Sydney Living Museums

Each autumn we celebrate Darug culture at our annual Eel Festival at Elizabeth Farm at Parramatta. This family-friendly event honours Parramatta’s namesake, the eel, and its significance to the local Burramattagal people, who would gather in autumn to trade goods and share stories and food.

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Yana Nura

A school student exploring the Yana Nura garden at Museum of Sydney. Photo © Declan May / James Horan Photography Pty Ltd for Sydney Living Museums

A native garden among the skyscrapers

Yana Nura, “to walk on Country” is a native garden at the Museum of Sydney that invites visitors to reflect, reconnect and learn about Aboriginal culture, past and present, on Gadi Country. Located on the outdoor mezzanine that overlooks the site of Australia’s First Government House and the area that the first colonial garden was installed on Aboriginal landscape, in 1788.

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“Boil 6 hours”

‘Christmas Pudding’ in The Book of Christmas (1888) by Hervey Thomas Kibble, illustrated by Robert Seymour https://archive.org/details/bookofchristmas00herviala/page/n34

With thousands of hectares ablaze with bush-fires across the country, and temperatures topping 40 degrees Celsius in many regions week, including Sydney, the extremes of our environmental and climate crisis are omni- and ominously present, reinforcing the resounding message that we cannot sustain our current energy-hungry lifestyles.

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A box of Christmas mangoes

This week we welcome guest author Dr. Madeline Shanahan to the blog. A historian and archaeologist, Madeline was a guest speaker at this year’s Spring Harvest festival at Elizabeth Farm, where she talked with Jacqui about spices. Earlier this year her new book – Christmas Food and Feasting – was published, looking at how the concept of the ‘Christmas dinner’ evolved, both in Britain and throughout the English-speaking world. So pull up a crate of mangoes and carve up the pudding as we dive in! [Eccentric images supplied by yours truly]

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Seething!

A stewpan. Detail from Francatelli's cooks guide and advertiser, page 5. Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection

When you read 19th century cookbooks the terminology can be unfamiliar. Take this definition of stewing: “the act or operation of seething, or boiling slowly.” [1] Boiling sure, but ‘seething’?

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Under pressure

Sheep or pig bones excavated at the Mint. Sydney Living Museums. Photo (c) Jamie North

Eagle-eyed reader Ariela asked about an usual item listed in the ‘third drawer down’ – Slacks patent digester! So chop up your turnips and gather those leftover bones – this week we’re in for for some thrifty high pressure cooking.

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Spring Harvest at Elizabeth Farm

Spring Harvest Festival at Elizabeth Farm, Parramatta. Photo © James Horan for Sydney Living Museums

“It is now Spring, & the Eye is delighted with a most beautiful variegated Landscape – Almonds – Apricots, Pear and Apple Trees are in full bloom. The native shrubs are also in flower, & the whole Country gives a grateful perfume.”
Elizabeth Macarthur to her friend Miss Kingdon, Parramatta, 1798  Continue reading

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