I’m a gastronomer. My computer spellchecker tells me this is not a word (the Macquarie Dictionary, however, does!) – but as a philosopher takes their title from the pursuit of philosophy, I believe gastronomer follows the same logic from gastronomy. By my family’s reckoning, however, I’m a gastronaut. I explore the world of food with an inquiring mind and a deep curiosity – not simply about the food itself, but about why it is a food. How did that item become acceptable as a food and how did it arrive at our tables? In fact, to me, gastronomy is about people – what people do to and with food to make it a part of their lives.
As the HHT’s resident gastronomer, I’ve taken a hands-on role to investigate the type of food that was served in our historic houses – from the gruel served to convicts at the dreaded Hyde Park Barracks to the feasts found on the finer tables of Sydney’s elite. Immersing yourself in a heritage environment gives a real sense of time and place, and, more importantly, a sense of the people who inhabited these spaces – those who dug the gardens, gathered the firewood, walked the floors. Their time has passed but their legacy remains – and while I can’t meet them for a chat, I can get a taste of their lives!
I’m a curious cook. I experiment with recipes and ingredients that have somehow dropped from our repertoire or become lost in time – or perhaps their relevance has simply been overlooked. Testing, tasting, sharing – hit-and-miss at times – but also learning when things go terribly wrong! This blog gives me an opportunity to satisfy my curiosity about our food heritage and to share some of the rich stories – and recipes – that sustained those who helped to create our history.
I’m hoping that you will join me on this culinary adventure.