Australia’s ‘first cookbook’ goes on show at exhibition celebrating early settlers’ culinary journey
Source: ABC News Australia
If so, the recipes can be found in what is considered Australia’s first cookbook, written by Tasmanian landowner Edward Abbott.
The English and Australian Cookery Book is on show at Tasmania’s state library in Hobart to coincide with the 150th anniversary of its publication.
Curator Ian Morrison said Abbott’s book was the first to include recipes using native ingredients.
The author suggests roast emu, which he says resembles coarse beef in flavour, as an alternative to the traditional roast.
Of roast wombat, he notes that some like its flavour but others “decry it”.
There is also a recipe for Pan Jam – a dish made from kangaroo tails.
Or consider whipping up a serve of Slippery Bob: Take kangaroo brains, mix with flour and water into a batter and cook in emu fat.
Sample these recipes from 1864:
- Slippery Bob: Take kangaroos brains and mix with flour and water, and make into batter; well season with pepper, salt etc; then pour a table-spoonful at a time into an iron pot containing emu fat and take them out when well done.
“Bush fare” requiring a good appetite and excellent digestion.
- Pan Jam: Roast kangaroos tails in the ashes with the skin on; when nearly done, scrape them well, and divide at the joints. Then put them in a pan with a few slices of fat bacon, to which add a few mushrooms, pepper etc. Fry gently and serve.
- Roast wombat: This animal feeds on grass and roots, and its flesh is eaten roasted; some persons like its flavour, others, again decry it. It is also cooked in steaks. Native porcupines are cooked in a like way.
State archivist Ross Latham says Abbott showed the way.
“We do see ourselves as a food superpower, but pretty much from day one entrepreneurs like Abbott tried to show that we’ve got a unique point of difference,” he said.
The book also praises the quality of fish teeming in Hobart’s Derwent River, but that is no longer the case after years of industrial activity.
Before the book’s publication, early settlers adapted British recipes to use local fare like wombat and echidna.
The problem faced by those early settlers is recorded in the 1831 journal of Tasmanian Mary Allport.
“It’s a completely different environment, the native flora and fauna were completely unfamiliar,” Mr Morrison said.
“She’s faced with an echidna for dinner and she adapts the recipe for suckling pig.”
Later she stuffed wallaby, adapting a Scottish recipe for hare.