‘Gather in to grace our feast’

Burning of the Garden Palace, Sydney, September 22, 1882, as seen from Macquarie Street. Gibbs, Shallard & Co., 1882. Supplement to the Illustrated News, October 25, 1882. Image courtesy National Library Australia. PIC Drawer 2505 #S3158

Burning of the Garden Palace, Sydney, September 22, 1882, as seen from Macquarie Street. Gibbs, Shallard & Co., 1882. Supplement to the Illustrated News, October 25, 1882. Image courtesy National Library Australia. PIC Drawer 2505 #S3158

In September 1879 Sydney presented itself on the world stage by hosting an ambitious International Exhibition, which ran until April 1880. The exhibition was held  with typical Victorian pomp,  Continue reading

Spring harvest festival Elizabeth Farm

Pickling workshop with Cornersmith at Elizabeth Farm Spring Harvest Festival  Photo © James Horan for Sydney Living Museums

Pickling workshop with Cornersmith at Elizabeth Farm Spring Harvest Festival Photo © James Horan for Sydney Living Museums

We’re gearing up for a fresh and tasty Spring Harvest Festival day at Elizabeth Farm this Sunday, September 25.  From the basics of bread making and butter churning to planting, pickling and preserving garden produce, we draw on traditional artisan practices that filled pantries in the colony in the early 1800s. Continue reading

Bread and dripping, an ‘institution’

Kim Connor's homemeade bread and dripping made using 19th-century methods. Photo © Kim Connor

Kim Connor's homemeade bread and dripping made using 19th-century methods. Photo © Kim Connor

Kim Connor is currently undertaking an internship at Hyde Park barracks as part of her research project ’Feeding the confined’ for her honours studies in archaeology at Sydney University.  Kim’s particular interest is the diet of the women at Hyde Park barracks when it was the Immigration Depot and the Destitute Asylum between 1848 and 1886. Kim is our guest author this week, as with true gastronomic gusto, she not only reads about the types of food that the women ate, and how it was prepared, she attempts to recreate some of the food to support her thesis. What was the food like? Was it enough? And for today’s story – just how bad does bread and dripping taste? Continue reading

Kim Connor, intern, Hyde Park barracks

Hyde Park barracks intern, Kim Connors examining bones from the barracks archaeology. Photo © Fiona Starr Sydney Living Museums

Hyde Park barracks intern, Kim Connors examining bones from the barracks archaeology. Photo © Fiona Starr Sydney Living Museums

Kim Connor is an Honours student in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sydney. Her thesis, ‘Feeding the confined’ is an analysis of the animal bone from Hyde Park barracks in order to investigate the diet of the women of the Immigration Depot and the Destitute Asylum (1848-1886).

By studying the bones, I’m discovering other unofficial ways that the women supplemented and varied their diets. One of the big surprises has been how much evidence there is for meat that wasn’t on the official ration: rabbit, chicken and other fowl, oysters and even crab! Explaining why there is a difference between the archaeological record and the historical sources is key to understanding how these institutions worked, and the experience of the women who lived there.

Kim also writes about historical food for her blog Turnspit & Table with ’an anti-miserablist approach to historical cooking’ and is a regular participant in the Historical Food Fortnightly.

Do try the chow-chow

Ginger and melon jam heading to the table. Photo (c) James Horan for Sydney Living Museums

Ginger and melon jam heading to the table. Photo (c) James Horan for Sydney Living Museums

Today piles of fresh ginger are everywhere in grocers and supermarkets. In early 19th century Sydney (as with much of the world) your options were restricted to dried, powdered, preserved in sugar or in a zesty marmalade-like mix known as chow-chow. Continue reading

Cayenne and chilli ‘peppers’

Chillis in the kitchen garden at Vaucluse House. Photo © James Horan for Sydney Living Museums

Chillis in the kitchen garden at Vaucluse House. Photo © James Horan for Sydney Living Museums

If pepper is the king of spices, then the chilli must certainly be the knave – the bright upstart who threatens to oust the king from his throne. In many cuisines this is now the case, with chilli the dominant ‘hot’ spice, due to its prevalence in India and Asian countries. The English, and by default, colonial Australians, embraced chillis in full force in the C19th century.

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