The de Maliez mystery – in search of the governor’s French cook

A drawing of first Government House, Sydney, showing the surrounding gardens, water and meeting of Aboriginal and European peoples.

Governor's House at Sydney, Port Jackson 1791 by William Bradley. State Library of NSW Safe 1/14

Historical research is a curious thing. You find a fleeting reference or snippet of information that prickles your interest about a place, a person, an object or an incidence, then find yourself chasing leads that might shed more light on the subject. In this case, it is the mystery of Governor Arthur Phillip’s ‘French cook’.

Continue reading

Ladies who lunched

The Womanhood Suffrage League of NSW

The Womanhood Suffrage League of NSW by Freeman Bros Studio, 1892. State Library of NSW ON 219/96

Nicola Teffer, curator of the Celestial City exhibition, is our guest blogger this week, giving us an insight into the ‘ladies who lunched’ in the late nineteenth century…
Sydney in the 1870s was no place for a lady. Not only were there no public toilets for women, the city offered few places where they could eat and drink.  Pubs were off-limits, and cafes, oyster saloons and cigar divans were a bit too racy for girls keen to protect their good reputations.

Continue reading

Nicola Teffer

Curator Nicola Teffer with Sydney Living Museums chairman Michael Rose, the Hon Helen Sham-Ho OAM and Sydney Living Museums director Mark Goggin in the Celestial City: Sydney's Chinese Story exhibition.

Curator Nicola Teffer with Sydney Living Museums chairman Michael Rose, the Hon Helen Sham-Ho OAM and Sydney Living Museums director Mark Goggin (left to right) in the Celestial City: Sydney's Chinese Story exhibition. Photo © James Horan for Sydney Living Museums

Nicola Teffer is curator of Celestial City: Sydney’s Chinese story, showing at the Museum of Sydney until 12 October 2014. Sydney’s Chinese story is intrinsically linked with food. The Chinese community has supplied, served and inspired hungry Sydney-siders from market gardens, merchants’ shops, street hawking businesses and Quong Tart’s tea rooms, synonymous with Sydney in the late nineteenth century. Nicola joins The Cook and the Curator as guest blogger, relating food stories prompted by the Celestial City exhibition.

Continue reading

Quong Tart’s famous tearooms – and scones!

Quong Tart teapot detail

Quong Tart teapot (detail). Private collection. Photo © Jamie North for Sydney Living Museums

Quong Tart, celebrated in the Celestial City: Sydney’s Chinese story exhibition currently showing at the Museum of Sydney, played a significant part in Sydney’s colonial history. The exhibition explores many aspects of Quong Tart’s life, but he is famously remembered for his tearoom establishments, which helped revolutionise casual dining in the city in the late 1800s. Continue reading

The hare and the … kangaroo

Kangaroo steamer

Kangaroo steamer. Photo Jacqui Newling © Sydney Living Museums

But of all dishes ever brought to table, nothing equals that of the steamer. No one can tell what a steamer is unless it has been tasted: it indeed affords an excellent repast. Australia, Henry Melville, 1851.

Following Scott’s cry of Tallyho! last week, and the focus on wild game, we salute the kangaroo (yet again), colonial style. Continue reading

First, catch your bandicoot

Stag trophy in the vestibule at Rouse Hill House

Stag trophy in the vestibule at Rouse Hill House. Photo © James Horan for Sydney Living Museums

Here at the Cook and the Curator conversations often have a circuitous feel to them. This week a chat about Mrs Rawson’s 1879 Queensland Cookery Book and recipes for stewed bandicoot (to the incredulous horror of our colleagues who were listening in) ended up with the taxidermed trophies in the front hall at Rouse Hill House – and the broader topic hunting in the 19th century. Continue reading

Dining by lamplight

The Rouse Hill dining room by candlelight

The Rouse Hill dining room by candlelight. Photo Scott Hill © Sydney Living Museums

Currently at various Sydney Living Museums Houses we’re running a series of night time tours, where you can see the houses as their original occupants saw them lit by candle and lamplight. Which raises the vexing question of just HOW should you light the historic dining table? Continue reading

Celebrating knowledge and sharing of tastes

Detail view of 'Edge of the Trees' art installation, First Government House Place (forecourt), Museum of Sydney.

Detail view of 'Edge of the Trees' art installation, First Government House Place (forecourt), Museum of Sydney. Photo © James Horan for Sydney Living Museums

From the edge of the trees the Gadigal people watched as the strangers of the First Fleet struggled ashore in 1788. This installation by Janet Laurence and Fiona Foley symbolises that first encounter. Wander through trees embedded with materials and language evoking the layers of memory, people and place. 

Museum of Sydney, built on the site of first government house, is in part, a monument to the commemorate first contact between British colonisers and Sydney’s Indigenous Peoples. The Edge of the trees art installation on the museum’s forecourt and interpretive displays in the museums help relate Aboriginal Peoples’ part in Sydney’s story – past and present, and NAIDOC week celebrations in Sydney continue to celebrate each year. Sydney Living Museums is hosting a NAIDOC open day at Rouse Hill House and Farm this weekend. Continue reading

Previously on the menu