Historic Aussie cookbook not for the faint of stomach

Parrot stew with a side of kangaroo brains anyone?

by: Neil Sands: AFP | 02 Jun 2008

An exhibition of historic Australian cookbooks has revealed the tastes of the country's pioneers, including recipes for bandicoot, kangaroo brains and black swans.

The curator of the State Library of New South Wales exhibition, Pat Turner, said the cookbooks showed how local cuisine developed from early days, when most Australians relied on British staples with a few curiosities thrown in.

In "The Antipodean Cookery Book", first published in 1895, Mrs. Lance Rawson has a stew recipe with listed ingredients including a dozen parrots "well-picked and cleaned."

Even less appetising is a recipe in Australia's first known cookbook, dating from 1864, for a dish called "slippery bob", consisting of kangaroo brains mixed with flour and water then fried in emu fat.

The book's author Edward Abbott described the delicacy as bush fare, admitting it required "a good appetite and excellent digestion" to stomach.

Aside from recipes that would leave most modern diners queasy the cookbooks also, reflect the social context in which they were written providing a glimpse at life outside the kitchen.

He adds the women should be "pleasant without too much coquetry."

Celebrity chefs of days gone by
Turner said the books also revealed that the celebrity chef is not a modern phenomenon.

"These people who wrote early cookbooks became quite renowned and attracted a large following, their books went into many editions," she said.

One of these was the formidable-looking Dorothy Floate, who won almost 1,300 prizes at cookery shows and whose "Secret of Success" cookery book was a runaway hit.

Turner admitted she will not be preparing forgotten delicacies such as "slippery bob" in her own kitchen.

"I'm not courageous enough I'm afraid," she said.

Please let us know if you have ever tried a "slippery bob", or something equally as gross?

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