Viewpoints from Aussie Cuisine

  • Our culinary adventure started much earlier then generally accepted, often only the last 20 years is recognised as our culinary evolution. Early in the 19th century menus would offer parrots, pigeons and kangaroo.

  • “Food tells you so much about the social interests of the day,” said research librarian Christina Ealing-Godbold. “The important thing about food is that it’s part of our culture”.

  • Kangaroo tail soup was a popular starter, made often with muscle joints rolled in flour and browned in the pan. A good starter was followed with a fish course usually served with a lemon sauce. The fish would typically be snapper, whiting or sometimes mullet, depending on what was in season.

  • Roast meat would then be served with stuffing, potatoes and minted peas. The meat was not always beef, but pigeon, parrot or turkey. Sometimes large cold cuts platters would be used as features, offering cold roast beef, pineapple ham, Queensland ham or York ham as well as cold ox tongue.

By Jessica Hinchliffe 

From parrots served at weddings, to ox tail for afternoon tea, Queensland’s dining past has been filled with creatures great and small. The State Library of Queensland recently unearthed menus found from social events held between 1900 and 1939. Weddings, local government association events and university dinner menus showed the varied foods that were eaten during the day. “Food tells you so much about the social interests of the day,” said research librarian Christina Ealing-Godbold. “The important thing about food is that it’s part of our culture and in Queensland we always had printed menus that included toasts to the parliament and the king.”

The starter

Starters were always oysters due to the many oyster farms found off the shores of Moreton Bay. “Oysters as well as oyster soup were a favourite and there were oyster bars everywhere in Brisbane at that time,” she told ABC Radio Brisbane‘s David Curnow. Kangaroo tail soup was another popular starter, made often with muscle joints rolled in flour and browned in the pan.

“In 1905 they would then simmer the kangaroo tail for a number of hours to make the soup,” Ms Ealing-Godbold said.

“Some recipes would tell you if you cooked the soup on a campfire, kamikaze insects would add protein to the pot unless you cover it.”

The main

According to the historical menus, every good starter was followed with a fish course usually served with a lemon sauce. “The fish would be snapper, whiting or sometimes mullet, depending on what was in season,” Ms Ealing-Godbold said. “Roast meat would then be served with stuffing, potatoes and minted peas.

“The meat was not always beef, but pigeon, parrot or turkey all featured widely.”

Large cold cuts platters would be used as features at dinners and afternoon teas for returned soldiers.”They would have cold roast beef, pineapple ham, Queensland ham or York ham as well as cold ox tongue.”

The dessert

The final course at many social events would include cold desserts such as jelly or ice puddings. “The commercialisation of gelatine made these desserts popular,” Ms Ealing-Godbold said.

“Jelly moulds were popular at the time and each had beautiful names after the princes and princesses of the day.”

Peach Melba, fruit salad, prunes in port wine and trifle sated many sweet tooths, but the dessert that always featured was charlotte russe. “It was invented by a French chef and was sponge fingers which lined a bowl and was then layered with jelly and filled with cream. “It was often served with ice-cream but it was decorated better than a trifle and the chef would cut shapes of fruit and lay it out on top.”

Reference:

Hinchliffe, J. (16 February 2017). Historical menus show parrot, pigeon, kangaroo were common fare at Queensland functions. ABC Radio Brisbane. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-16/queenslands-historical-menus-served-native-critters/8275986