The most useful and most noble animal

Detail of a lithograph of a race horse

Skeleton. / The Celebrated entire Irish race horse .... / (detail), I.W. Dean, 1832. State Library of New South Wales: DL Pe 239

As we reach the end of October the racing season looms. So in honor of the nation’s hardworking milliners here’s a look at the start of Sydney’s annual horse races and its first track, and a drink to cheer on the horses – Huzzah!

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A bullock roasted entire

Illustration of a prize shorthorn

Shorthorn illustrated in Mrs Isabella Beeton, Beeton's book of household management. Ward, Lock & Co., London, 1907.

In an act of political defiance, William Charles Wentworth hosted a ‘grand fete’ at his home at Vaucluse on October 21, 1831. A ‘fatted ox’ was paraded around Sydney, adorned with ribbons, with a promise that it would be barbequed next day on a spit, for all to enjoy! 4,000 Sydney-siders of all ‘descriptions’ joined the party.

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A curious cookbook

Page from an 1832 cookbook manuscript

1832 cookbook manuscript, author unknown (detail). Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection, Sydney Living Museums

A mystery manuscript

For some time now I’ve been following Westminster City Archives’ The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies blog. It explores a manuscript cookery book of unknown origin, thought to have been written between 1760 and the 1820s. A team of volunteers have been experimenting with the recipes and researching their relevance in the Georgian and Regency England. It is an interesting project in itself, and I’m very excited by it, as we too, have a ‘mystery’ manuscript cookbook from the 1830s in our collection. Continue reading

The convicts’ vegetable garden

Unearthing vegatables grown in a kitchen garden.

Kitchen garden. Photo © Stuart Miller

It was the government’s responsibility to house, clothe and feed the convicts who were lodged at Hyde Park Barracks.  Their rations consisted of meat, flour (baked into bread), maize meal cooked into ‘hominy’, tea and sugar. The rations were to be supplemented with fresh vegetables, but one convict named Charles Cozens wrote that in 1840, the barracks’ soup only contained ‘a slight sprinkling of cabbage leaf’. Continue reading